Making a difference
Stories about United Way beneficiaries prompt 100 percent giving at Express-1
Editor’s note: The United Way of Southwest Michigan is in the middle of its annual fund drive. This story, provided by United Way staff, gives one example of how United Way dollars are helping the community.
“Megan” was just 11 years old when she worked up the courage to share a horrible secret that she’d been keeping for more than three years: Her mother’s boyfriend had been touching her in ways he shouldn’t have been.
Megan was tired of living the nightmare that her life had become. She was tired of trying to stay awake until her mother got home from work, tired of finding reasons to sleep in her brother’s bedroom and tired of pretending to be asleep when she heard the footsteps in the hall.
Megan had lots of good reasons for not telling. She was afraid no one would believe her because her assailant had told her no one would, and he said that she’d just end up in a foster home if she ever told. And she wasn’t sure that maybe this wasn’t somehow all her fault.
But she was tired of it, and it was happening more often. So Megan found the courage to tell her favorite aunt, who believed her and found! her help.
Megan came to the Children’s Assessment Center and told her story. She told it slowly and hesitantly – in fact, she put a blanket over her head for the really difficult parts. But the CAC is a place where kids can tell their stories with the help of a soft blanket or a can of play dough. She only had to tell it once where prosecutors, police and Child Protective Service workers could hear. Then, she could return to the center for continuing therapy while the case was criminally prosecuted and after it was over.
The Children’s Assessment Center, a United Way funded agency, will assist in the prosecution of offenders and treatment of child victims in about 400 cases this year.
It was from hearing stories about children like Megan that made every employee at shipping company Express-1 in Buchanan choose to give to United Way this year.
“We heard about the Children’s Assessment Center,” said Jeff Curry, president of Express1. “That agency just really hit home. Many of us didn’t even know it was there or how important it was to our community.”
Express-1, a United Way pacesetter company this year, sent employees
to tour some United Way agencies and bring the stories back to the workplace. What they saw was the safety net of services United Way supports.
“United Way is like the mutual fund manager for benevolence and charity in our community,” Curry said.
“Face it, when you write a check to a charity, you give it and hope they are doing the right thing. No one has time to review the agency’s financial statements or interview their staff. United Way does that for you. They make sure you have the right balance of agencies and that they are all good agencies.”
The end result was a successful United Way campaign at Express- 1. The company reached 100 percent employee participation. (On a bet, one of the male managers had to wear a dress to work for a day if the company reached that goal.) It raised 150 percent of its goal, bringing in pledges of more than $25,000.
IPC Print Services in St. Joseph, another pacesetter company, also used information about specific United Way ag! encies to help boost its employee giving. IPC increased the funds raised to support United Way by 60 percent over last year and raised $34,516, said campaign coordinator Dawn Howley.
“I was blown away by people’s willingness to step up and give,” Howley said. “I think a real key to our campaign was having speakers come in from the different agencies that United Way supports. Our employees were able to see where the money went and how it helped people. Some people learned of services that were available to them or their families that they didn’t know about.”
United Way campaign Chairman Randy Reimers said the United Way wanted to expand its donor base this year.
“Our goal in this year’s campaign was to get one more person involved and to raise one more dollar than we have ever raised,” Reimers said. “With the campaign cabinet alone we have 12 more people involved and we have six new comp! anies running campaigns who have never run campaigns before.”
For more information on the United Way or to make a donation, call 925-7772.
John Madill / H-P staff
Pictured at Express-1 are (from left) Keith Avery, partner development; Larry Larson, vice president of operations; Jody Mattingly, customer service manager; and Jeff Curry, president. The company had 100 percent participation in United Way.