United Way Kicks Off Community Campaign at Annual Day of Caring

On Thursday, September 17, 660 volunteers spread out in teams around Ottawa County to help with 57 projects at non-profit organizations during Greater Ottawa County United Way’s 15th annual Day of Caring. Volunteer teams from businesses, organizations and various groups worked throughout the morning and afternoon doing landscaping and yard work, removing invasive species and trash at parks, processing donations, painting, and more. Director of Volunteerism Shannon Morton said, “United Way, and all of Ottawa County’s nonprofits could not be more thankful for the outpouring of generosity shared by our community members on this year’s Day of Caring. These dedicated volunteers demonstrate how we can all come together to LIVE UNITED.”


At 11:30 am, volunteers gathered at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds to enjoy a volunteer appreciation lunch, donated by A.D. Bos Vending Services of Holland and Tyson Foods of Zeeland, and prepared and served by A.D. Bos. Water was donated by Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.


As the volunteers enjoyed their lunch, Greater Ottawa County United Way kicked off its 2015-16 Community Campaign. Campaign Chair John Gork (wife, Martha Gork is also Chair) announced a campaign goal of $2.5 million. John Gork said, “When you give to United Way, United Way is able to leverage every dollar into $3.25 worth of community benefit. That is an incredible return on investment. Additionally, all dollars invested by our community stay in Ottawa County. A gift to United Way has a powerful impact in your local community.”


Campaign Chair Martha Gork added, “We live in such a beautiful community that it’s hard to imagine there are people in our community who are struggling. But the statistics tell us that 35% of working households in Ottawa County don’t make enough to reach the basic survival threshold. This translates to more than 32,000 households in our county who are unable to make ends meet. Greater Ottawa County United Way is working to address the underlying causes that keep these households from succeeding.”


As an incentive to attract new givers to the campaign, campaign sponsors have underwritten a “Two Tickets to Paradise” campaign drawing.  Anyone who pledges $1 per week for the first time or increases their pledge by $1 a week will be entered into a drawing to win a trip for two to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. Details can be found at www.ottawaunitedway.org.


United Way staff shared that for the past 12 years, the Tri-Cities Lighthouse Leadership Challenge by an anonymous donor has been a powerful beacon for residents of Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg. More than one million dollars in new and increased leadership gifts has been raised through that challenge, and it’s back for its thirteenth year, with a $30,000 challenge grant. 


For the second year, residents of Holland, Zeeland, West Olive, Jamestown, Jenison and Hudsonville can double their new and increased leadership level donations. Anonymous donors have committed $30,000 in matching dollars for new and increased leadership gifts from residents of southern Ottawa County as well.


United Way President Patrick Moran said that, while the dollars raised are important, an even greater emphasis belongs on the differences those dollars make in the lives of people. “Education, Financial Stability, Health, and Basic Needs are the building blocks of a better life,” he said, describing United Way’s areas of focus. “Right now 56 effective programs of 42 local nonprofit agencies are changing the lives of tens of thousands of our neighbors because our community supports United Way,” he added. He also noted that United Way is involved in many initiatives and collaboratives in Ottawa County as well.


The United Way Board of Directors and staff would like to thank the generous corporate partners and volunteers who make the annual Day of Caring possible. The Day of Caring lunch was provided by donations from Christian Reformed Conference Grounds, A.D. Bos Vending Services, and Tyson Foods of Zeeland. Day of Caring and Community Campaign expenses are underwritten by our generous campaign sponsors. Pinnacle sponsors are Fifth Third Bank and WHTC/The Van radio. Platinum sponsors are: Consumers Energy, The Grand Haven Tribune, The Holland Sentinel and WGHN radio. Gold sponsors are: A.D. Bos Vending Services, Inc., DeNooyer Chevrolet, Fox 17, Haworth, Huntington Bank, Johnny Advertising, JQ99/The Pledge radio, Manpower and West Michigan Community Bank. Silver sponsors are: Barber Ford, Itex Trade Exchange/West MI Barter Co., PADNOS, and Varnum Law.