United Way campaign begins

Pete Allen and Katie Dewitt are serving as co-chairs of the 2017-18 United Way campaign in Whitley County, and Jo Robertson is vice-chair. From left are Robertson, Allen and Dewitt.

Staff reports

COLUMBIA CITY — The United Way of Whitley County’s 2017-18 campaign is underway.

The official campaign kick-off took place at the United Way Day of Caring on Tuesday.

“We have a fantastic group of community leaders working on our campaign team this year. Several who have been involved for many years but also new volunteers, as well, are looking for ways to connect with our community and give back through serving on the campaign team,” said Cindy Baker, executive director of United Way of Whitley County.

Pete Allen and Katie Dewitt will serve as co-chairs this year, and Jo Robertson will serve as vice-chair for the campaign. Also serving on the campaign team this year are Jody Baber, Tiffany Careins, Dana Day, Shawn Ellis, Mary Hartman, Karen Hedrick, June Keiser, Deanna Kissinger, Deb Lee, Shelby Longenbaugh, Laura McDermott, Jason Meyer, Mike Ott, Austin Pappenbrock, Michele Porter, Samara Qureshi, Jon Shew II, Lori Shipman, David Smith, Cara Starkey, Dane Starkey, Jeff Walker and Leslie von Seggern.

Last year, Allen served as co-chair of the campaign alongside Shawn Ellis, now executive director of the Lighthouse homeless shelter, and Dewitt served as the vice chair of the campaign.

“Over the past few years we have intentionally worked to have a strong leadership team for the campaign, consisting of a lead chairperson, a co-chairperson who works in tandem with the lead chairperson and a vice-chairperson who is very involved, as well, but sits back to see how the entire campaign process works so they then can move into the co-chairperson role the following year,” Baker said in a statement. “Creating a strong leadership team and then moving individual volunteers through the leadership process provides United Way of Whitley County with a steady line up of qualified volunteers to eventually become our campaign chairperson.

“Through this process, volunteers learn about United Way and the impact our organization has on the community and why we run a community campaign each year. It allows us to provide our campaign chairperson with a solid foundation of knowledge about United Way before they go into the community to represent our organization among their peers. The more our volunteers understand United Way, the stronger they will be at representing the organization throughout the community campaign.”

Last year, UWWC granted funding to the following local programs and organizations: B.A.B.E. of Whitley County, Camp Invention, Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, CASA of Northeastern Indiana, Children First Center, Churubusco Childcare Center, Gradway, One Community, Passages Inc., the Center for Whitley County Youth, the Lighthouse and TROY Center Alternative School and YWCA Domestic Violence Services.

Any Whitley County nonprofit organization is eligible to submit an application for grant dollars awarded by the United Way. The grant dollars are awarded through an interview process with the United Way board and a panel of community members. The funds raised during the campaign are used to fund those grants.

“United Way provides opportunities to give dollars where it’s most needed in the community, and as the needs of our community change, United Way can adapt and continue to serve as a conduit to help channel those dollars to make the greatest impact,” Allen said in a statement.

Dewitt, who served on the campaign team last year as the vice chair, is excited about the volunteers serving on the campaign team this year.

“It’s rewarding to serve alongside so many volunteers who are choosing to give their time to serve others in our community. And I think it’s important to remember that all of the dollars raised here in Whitley County through the United Way campaign, stay here, so the more helping hands we have, the more lives we’re able to impact right here at home,” Dewitt said in the statement.

Robertson added, “In today’s world, we all live busy lives and we are pulled in so many different directions. However, in Whitley County we are blessed with a large group of volunteers who step up and support the efforts of the United Way. Our community strongly believes in the United Way.”

For more information about supporting or becoming involved with United Way of Whitley County visit unitedwaywhitleycounty.org or call 244-6454.

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