BOTKINS — “Be the One.”
That’s what Shelby County United Way Executive Director Scott Barr urged luncheon attendees to do during his agency’s 2016 funding campaign kickoff at the Palazzo in Botkins, Thursday. “Be the One” is the campaign theme.
“We really like that theme,” he said. “One by one, we make a difference.”
The local United Way (SCUW) has set a goal of $1,325,000 to be raised by Nov. 3. The money will support 27 member social service agencies and provide special project grants to more than a dozen more. In 2015, 11,200 residents here benefitted from programs funded in part by the United Way.
The campaign is off to a good start with $163,326 in donations from an August Pacesetter campaign and Barr noted that 30 percent of last year’s campaign funds were made by 495 individual Cornerstone donors of $500 or more, each.
The Rev. David Chivington, a SCUW board member and minister of the Sidney First United Methodist Church, talked about how singular it was to have community leaders together to launch the campaign.
“We live in a society that tends to separate things,” he said. “Here, we bridge that. In this particular case, we get together and bring all that we know and all that we trust in each other. Sense for just a second the uniqueness of this room and the potential of what we do when we work together. Thank you for being here to do this amazing work.”
Following the showing of the 2016 campaign video, which was produced by then Sidney High School students Sam Niswonger, Maddi Nuss, Laney Shaw and their digital media productions teacher, Greg Snyder, guest speakers Cindy Weaver, senior schools manager for Ohio of EverFi, and Mary Damico, information and referral/211 director of Helpline, presented information about their respective programs, both of which are new initiatives that SCUW will fund and help to organize in Shelby County in the coming year.
EverFi has developed web-based programming to promote character development of junior high school students. The effort, dubbed Character Playbook, is a national United Way/National Football League joint project. Seven local schools have joined the SCUW to participate: Sidney City, Houston, Botkins, Anna, Jackson Center, Fort Loramie and Fairlawn.
“The three-hour course is in modules and has simulations and discussion questions,” Weaver said. “Every module has pre- and post- assessements and we’ll give every school a report at the end of the year.”
Damico discussed the development over several decades of a call-in information and referral system through which residents can phone 211 to be directed to appropriate agencies for help.
“Whom do you call when you have a particular need?” she asked, rhetorically. There are 17 active 211 call centers in Ohio, covering 80 percent of the population, she added. They handled 1.3 million callers in 2015.
Damico said that the lines are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by certified specialists. Helpline will provide SCUW with statistics, including how many calls are received and what kinds of help callers seek.
Barr said the service will help SCUW to identify gaps in service provision and provide information to aid the agency’s funding decision-making.
Kathy Lindsey, director of New Choices, was honored with a bouquet and a standing ovation when Barr announced that she will retire in February after more than three decades of leadership in helping victims of abuse. Lindsey had presented a history of New Choices prior to the announcement.
Shelby County Libraries Director Suzanne Cline presented a certificate of appreciation to Jana Schnippel, of Wilson Health, for the hospital’s ongoing support of Imagination Library, a SCUW partnership program that provides books to Shelby County preschoolers.
SCUW Board Chairman Josh Koltak recognized his fellow board members, past campaign chairmen, past board chairmen, the SCUW’s women’s group, Power, the SCUW staff and the events committee and lauded Barr for his leadership.
In his turn, Barr thanked campaign division leaders, county ambassadors, account volunteers, the top 10 companies who donated to last year’s campaign, this year’s Pacesetter companies, Imagination Library funders, and in-kind donors who provided support for the kickoff luncheon.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.