The Barry County United Way 2016-17 campaign, “I Live United, Do You?” kicks off Thursday, Sept. 15 at 8 a.m. at Barry Expo, midway between Hastings and Middleville.
“Join us as 8 a.m. as Campaign Chairman Matt Goebel challenges us to learn about how, with your help, the dollars raised in our community continue to change lives in the area of education, health and income,” said BCUW Director Lani Forbes. “I Live United, Do You?” is the theme for this year’s campaign. Wes VanderWilk, a Thornapple Parks and Recreation volunteer who has direct experience with the impact that one act of giving can create, will speak at the kickoff.
Businesses and organizations that have already completed campaigns will report, the musical talents of the Hastings High School Band and a continental breakfast will complete the morning.
Right after the kickoff, more than 300 volunteers will work on a wide variety of indoor and outdoor projects for Day of Caring, taking place Thursday and Saturday, Sept. 17. Volunteers are still needed for both days. To help, call Morgan at 945-4010.
This year’s campaign goal will exceed $600,000 based on the requests of currently funded programs. //
Last year over $565,000 was raised and 100 percent was distributed to programs and services in Barry County and the agencies designated by the donors. “We are very fortunate that the Florence Tyden Groos Administrative Endowment Fund, held by the Barry Community Foundation, assures that 100 percent of dollars raised go directly to programming.” Forbes said.
Forbes explained what kind of a difference the price of a cup of coffee a week can make. A gift of $5 a week through BCUW can buy 80 cases of soup for a food pantry, 26 winter coats, 29 containers of baby food or 32 sheets of dry wall for a Habitat for Humanity house. Last year, residents of the community used the services of Barry County United Way and 21 partner agencies 79,000 times for some of just some of those purposes, she said.
More than 70 percent of BCUW funding comes from employee payroll giving and 12 percent comes from employers matching the employee’s gifts.
A weekly payroll contribution of $1 a week purchases 48 jars of baby food at Manna’s Market, $2 a week will buy a crib for a safe place for a child to sleep through the Family Support Center, $5 per week provides maintenance for a medical transport van through American Red Cross, $10 a week provides three youths with the opportunity to participate in the Leadership Youth Quest program and a $20 per week can provide 360 nutritionally balanced meals for a homebound older adult.
Thirty four programs in Barry County rely on the support of the United Way. Family Support Center Executive Director Karen Jousma said: “Through the support of Barry County United Way and the Barry County community the Family Support Center has positively impacted the lives of over 30 families a year to ensure infant safe sleep environments, over 200 adults and more than 130 children a year have participated in Family Workshops and gained knowledge in becoming better parents, and annually over 240 mandated reporters are trained to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
“When we unite in providing better safety nets for our families, we can’t think of better partners than Barry County United Way and the community partners we work with.”
BCUW invests in four specific areas:
1) Helping youth achieve their full potential: agencies including 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Thornapple Park and Recreation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Leadership Youthquest, and the YMCA received over $211,372 to help youth achieve their full potential.
2) Addressing urgent and emerging needs: more than $166,000 was invested in 211, American Red Cross Disaster Support, Food Bank of South Central Michigan, Green Gables Haven, Manna’s Market, the smoke and carbon monoxide program, and Project Homeless Connect last year.
3) Supporting families to achieve well-being and success: $114,000 was invested in CASA, Family Support Education and Crib Program, Eaton Furniture and Clothing, Habitat for Humanity, and Safe Harbor.
4) Assisting senior adults find support and maintain independence: $65,000 was invested in programs such as American Red Cross Medical Transportation, Commission on Aging Meals on Wheels and In Home Services and Veteran’s Affairs.
Barry County United Way also looks at emerging needs of the community and addresses those issues through partnerships with our agencies and businesses. Donors designated $9,001 to United Ways outside of Barry County. Last week United Way’s partnership with Hastings City Bank and several others, provided 384 donated backpacks filled with school supplies for K-12 students. “This program helps ease the financial burden of families that are struggling just to pay rent and mortgages,” Forbes said.
Volunteers for Day of Caring are invaluable. “According to the Independent Sector, each volunteer hour is worth $23.07, therefore the hours put in by these volunteers is equal to over $35,500 to our community. Thornapple Valley Church has combined their Blitz Day with United Way to show the value of partnerships throughout the community. This enables us to partner with many individuals and families that are not available during the work week,” Volunteer Center Director Morgan Johnson said.
For details, call Barry County United Way, 269-945-4010.