Ohio’s first lady helps kick off campaign


United Way begins ‘United For Impact’

By Charlotte Caldwell - [email protected]



Ohio first lady Fran DeWine, left to right, talks with Shelby County Libraries Executive Director Suzanne Cline, of Sidney, and Teen Coordinator Cindy Timmerman, of Minster, at the Shelby County United Way campaign kick-off. The kick-off was held at The Palazzo in Botkins on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Ohio first lady Fran DeWine, left to right, talks with Shelby County Libraries Executive Director Suzanne Cline, of Sidney, and Teen Coordinator Cindy Timmerman, of Minster, at the Shelby County United Way campaign kick-off. The kick-off was held at The Palazzo in Botkins on Thursday, Sept. 8.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

BOTKINS – The Shelby County United Way kicked off its 2022 campaign “United for Impact” on Sept. 8 at The Palazzo event venue in Botkins with multiple speakers, including Fran DeWine, the first lady of Ohio, who talked about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program in Ohio.

Scott Barr, United Way president and CEO, introduced DeWine by mentioning that Shelby County is the leader in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Ohio with over 65% participation, He and DeWine credited the donors and Wilson Health’s efforts to enroll all babies born at the birthing center for this success. DeWine also mentioned the combined efforts of the Shelby County United Way and the libraries in the county.

“Our United Ways and our libraries have been two of the greatest forces to running our program, and hearing that both of them are working together, and I think that’s what makes it so successful here,” DeWine said.

“Kids only grow up once, and they grow up fast, and we need to help that growth with the best shot at success that we can give them,” DeWine continued. “Reading is one of the single greatest things we can do for our kids and with our kids, and the earlier we do it the better.”

DeWine closed her remarks with a quote from Dolly Parton about the power of books: “The seeds of dreams are often found in books, and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

The theme “truly is symbolic of this county and our giving ways,” according to Duane Gaier, the 2022 Shelby County United Way campaign chair. The pacesetters, which are a group of businesses that help the annual campaigns get started, have raised $244,526 so far this year.

The goal this year is $1.35 million, and some efforts the organization has made to reach this goal are to add Jackets United and Rivals United competitions in local school districts. The Jackets United competition is between the Sidney City School buildings, and Rivals United includes other school districts in the community. The first Jackets United winner was Emerson Primary School, and the first Rival United winner was Fairlawn Local Schools. The board also hired Community Development Director Emily Neu to assist Barr and to raise more funds.

Neu is a past board member and board chair of the Alpha Community Center and the founder and current board chair of the Mercy Mission House with over 25 years of business-to-business marketing and sales experience. She spoke about the new marketing efforts the organization has developed, like a campaign website and campaign materials such as a Shelby County map showing agencies throughout the county and a sheet showing where all the money raised goes.

She also announced the new APEX award, which will be given out yearly starting next year and will recognize a non-profit human services staff member and volunteer for their hard work and commitment to helping others.

“This is my first campaign as a United Way employee, but I’ve been involved in many campaigns on the agency side,” Neu said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of those funds that are so needed for the United Way, and those funds allow the directors to do the hard work every day that they do. And it’s just amazing when you spend any time with any of our agencies, you see the impact they make on the community and all of the hard work that goes into it.”

Other guest speakers were Carla Bertke, the executive director for the Rehabilitation Center for Neurological Development who explained the center’s offered programs and some of the patients who have benefited, and Bridget Davis, the director of the Shelby County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.

Davis has been the CASA director for 17 years, and she shared a moment where she almost reached her breaking point because of the poor living conditions for children that she has seen until she received a graduation announcement for a girl whose case she worked on over a decade ago.

“When you do what we do, it’s hard. And I came across a time this year, I wanted to quit. I was done. Not because I didn’t like my staff and my volunteers; I was done with crappy parents and crappy situations,” Davis said tearfully. She called Tim Newberg to the stage who adopted the girl and her brother, and he shared a poem written by his adopted daughter about her life. He said she is now a freshman in college studying to be a childcare provider so she can give back to the services that helped her.

“Don’t ever think your money don’t go anywhere, because it goes to real people,” Newberg said.

The United Way campaign will conclude on Thursday, Nov. 3, with a celebration from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sidney American Legion.

For more information on the 2022 Shelby County United Way campaign, visit shelbycountyunitedway.org/.

Ohio first lady Fran DeWine, left to right, talks with Shelby County Libraries Executive Director Suzanne Cline, of Sidney, and Teen Coordinator Cindy Timmerman, of Minster, at the Shelby County United Way campaign kick-off. The kick-off was held at The Palazzo in Botkins on Thursday, Sept. 8.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/09/web1_SDN090922FranDeWine.jpgOhio first lady Fran DeWine, left to right, talks with Shelby County Libraries Executive Director Suzanne Cline, of Sidney, and Teen Coordinator Cindy Timmerman, of Minster, at the Shelby County United Way campaign kick-off. The kick-off was held at The Palazzo in Botkins on Thursday, Sept. 8. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News
United Way begins ‘United For Impact’

By Charlotte Caldwell

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.