Another Record Smashing Year for United Way SWM

History has been made once again in a spectacular way, in one of the most philanthropic community’s in the nation. Tonight’s (Thursday) United Way of Southwest Michigan Annual Celebration proved that the community is in good hands, as the annual campaign cut through a $4-million goal like a hot knife through butter.

The non-profit organization set a lofty campaign goal of $4 million last year, and the work put in by Berrien and Cass county donors, volunteers and community members paid off handsomely. United Way set another record, attaining a historic $4,186,203 in 2016.

The night may have been highlighted by the money raised, but was decorated by the lives changed. The attainment presenters were recipients of United Way services. Nate Whitelow has been a Foster Grandparent through Area Agency on Aging for almost five years. Foster Grandparents is a program funded by United Way. Nate was able to take to the stage to help reveal the attainment.

A former United Way staffer, Angela Brownie helped establish Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library back in 2009. Now, her children are enrolled in the reading program. She, too, took to the stage to help reveal the attainment.

United Way of Southwest Michigan President Anna Murphy capped it all, saying, “It was a very special evening. There was a lot of hard work put into making this event possible.” She added, “When you surpass your goal, you have to give credit to the community. We did this together, and together we are able to change more lives because of it. We are grateful to all of the donors, volunteers and community members who helped make this happen.”

As the night’s finale video stated, United Way is more than the fundraisers; they’re the “hand-raisers,” the “gamechangers.” More than 72,000 people across Berrien and Cass counties were served in 2016 through United Way, nearly one-third of the population of the two counties combined.

More than $3.1 million of state and federal funds were leveraged through United Way funding. And volunteers racked up over 32,400 hours of service, a value of more than $764,000. The numbers only go on.

United Way backed up the numbers with touching success stories told through 4 videos presented throughout the evening, focusing on Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs.

One video featured Misty Dotson, who grew up with an abusive alcoholic father. At just 10 years old, she witnessed her mother kill her father in self-defense. Her mother later died of cancer, which sent Misty’s life into a world of heavy drug use, including meth amphetamines. She finally received help through the Substance Abuse Enhanced Outpatient Program at Woodland’s Behavioral Health in Cassopolis. Misty now works at Woodland’s helping others overcome their addiction.

Ann Cardon, Superintendent of St. Joseph Public Schools served as the 2016 United Way Campaign Chair. She says, “2016 was an amazing year. It was such an honor to work with so many dedicated people that are focused on the health, education and financial stability of everyone in our community — and to watch our community rally around these values through their giving was inspiring.”

United Way also thanked the following sponsors for the event: 1st Source Bank, Lakeland Health, AEP, D.C. Cook Plant, Whirlpool Corporation, Gast Manufacturing, Honor Credit Union, and Andrews University. For more information on United Way, visit To view United Way’s “We Fight For” video, click the link below:


Campaign Chair Recognition Presented by Catie Brown:

Ann Cardon

Milestone Awards Presented by Christine Vanlandingham & Dan Applegate

Large Business of the Year Presented by Bob Harrison:

Gast Manufacturing

 Whirlpool Corporation

 Medium Business of the Year Presented by Kim Richardson:

 Mid-West Family Broadcasting

 Small Business of the Year Presented by Jennifer Ray & David Brooks:

 Coloma Township Police Department

 ECC of the Year – Large Business Presented by Joe Tanko:

 Lauren Thurston and Stephanie Timmer, Chemical Bank

 ECC of the Year – Medium Business Presented by Zack East:

 Becky Ritter, 1st Source Bank

 ECC of the Year – Small Business Presented by Sarah Hadley:

 David Ravitch and Allan Volker, Ravitron

 Inspired Giving Award Presented by Tanya Urias:


 Campaign Cabinet Choice Award Presented by Zack East:

 Martin’s Super Markets, St. Joseph

 David J. Weichhand Award Presented by Dave Doetsch

 AEP, DC Cook Plant

Impact Chair Recognition Presented by Andy Janson:

 James Knight, United Federal Credit Union

 Live United Award Presented by Nermina Kamencic:


Excellence in Impact Award – Organization Presented by Jamie Rossow:

 Woodlands Behavioral Health Network

 Excellence in Impact Award – Individual Presented by Zech Hoyt:

 Mike Mortimore

 Pacesetter Recognition:

 AEP, DC Cook Plant

 Competitive Edge

 Edgewater Bank

 1st Source Bank

 Kemner Iott Benz

 Lakeland Health

 Meijer of Benton Harbor

 Meijer of Stevensville

 Mid-West Family Broadcasting

 Walsworth Publishing Company

 Milestone Awards:

Breakthrough Award 


 Edgewater Bank

 Horizon Bank

 Lake Michigan College

 Lakeland Health


 Old National Bank

 Senior Nutrition Services


 Vail Rubber Works, Inc.

 Watervliet Public Schools

 Milestone Awards:

 Trendsetter Award

 Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor


The Herald-Palladium

 Kemner Iott Benz

 Lakeshore Public Schools

 Michigan Gas Utilities

 Mosaic CCDA

 Pri Mar Petroleum, Inc.

 St. Joseph Public Schools

Teachers Credit Union

Milestone Awards: 

Landmark Award

 1st Source Bank

 AEP, DC Cook Plant

 Andrews University

 Berrien Springs Public Schools

 Chemical Bank

 Child & Family Services of Southwest Michigan

 Coloma Community Schools

 Coloma Township Police Department

 Competitive Edge

 Gast Manufacturing, an Idex Corporation

 Honor Credit Union

 Indiana Michigan Power


Martin’s Super Markets, St. Joseph

 Mid-West Family Broadcasting

 Walsworth Publishing Company

 Whirlpool Corporation

 Milestone Awards:

 Capstone Award


 Wolverine Pipeline