By Charlotte Caldwell
BOTKINS – The Shelby County United Way (SCUW) kicked off its 2023 campaign “Because of You” on Sept. 14 at The Palazzo event venue in Botkins with a new record for revenue at kickoff.
SCUW Board of Trustees Chair Ashley Himes provided an introduction and shared what she was grateful for within the organization. She said the success of the organization in 2022 and the pacesetter campaign before this year’s kickoff is “Because of You,” referring to the audience.
Current SCUW President and CEO Scott Barr then discussed the 110% Club, which is a way to recognize company and individual donors that increase their gift by 10% or more from the previous year’s annual campaign. Barr said the 30 organizations who participated in the pacesetter campaign, which begins before the campaign officially kicks off, responded to the challenge and set a record for revenue at kickoff with total contributions at $331,343. The total kickoff contributions last year also set a record at $244,526.
Barr also mentioned the APEX Awards which were recently given to Mercy Mission House Executive Director Emily Neu and the late Pastor John Geissler, the founder of Agape Distribution. After, he introduced the incoming SCUW president and CEO, Karla Young. She was born and raised in Fort Loramie and spent the last seven years as the executive director of the Wilson Health Foundation.
“In 2022 partner agency programming served almost 15,000 residents in our community. Our investment to Shelby County was $1,019,445. With out of county designations, our investment to the region was over $1.1 million. We continue to support 27 partner agencies and awarded 44 grants through our special projects, POWER, and student United Way grants to organizations, churches, collaborations, teachers and programs rely on your support.
From a revenue standpoint, once all campaigns were finalized, we are excited to see the 2022 campaign grow for a second straight year and reach over $1,370,000. The organization is writing more grants and visiting more prospective partner companies to diversify and grow revenue. We know over the next two years we must be over $1.5 million to meet community and agency demand.
Highlights from our partner agencies and programs include Dolly Parton Imagination Library reaching 77% participation rate with almost 28,000 books mailed annually; Mercy Mission House Emergency Shelter providing over 7,500 nights of shelter with over 25 family units signing leases; Compassionate Care serving over 2,000 Shelby County patients, of which 95% are employed and providing $1.3 million of prescription assistance to the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters held a 50 bigs in 30 days campaign and had record volunteer engagement, and the Alpha Community Center is on pace to serve 40,000 meals this year between all mission teams on the campus,” Young said.
David O’Leary, CEO of the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, spoke about the need for childcare in the county in the past approximately 40 years and how the YMCA has expanded its childcare facilities over that time, including its most recent expansion at Fair Haven.
“As I mentioned, the need is great in our community, and over these past 39 years, the United Way has supported the YMCA with over $3 million. Said better, the members of our community are very generous donors, in this room and throughout the community, probably thousands or tens of thousands supported families, mothers, fathers and children with quality childcare at an affordable cost,” O’Leary said.
Amy Simindinger, the director of the Imagine Making Positive Accountable Changes Together (IMPACT) Program and the juvenile court liaison for the Midwest Regional Educational Service Center of Shelby County, discussed how the United Way helps the IMPACT Program. She said the program was created in 2011 for children who were struggling in the community and in school, and since 2022, they have helped 575 families.
“Because of the United Way, this resource is available in Shelby County to our schools, to our families, to all of the agencies sitting here, to help families connect when they’re at their lowest,” Simindinger said.
The United Way campaign will conclude on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. at the Historic Sidney Theatre.
For more information about the Shelby County United Way, visit shelbycountyunitedway.org/.