United Way Back in Record Territory

They were certainly in a celebratory mood tonight at the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center and for good reason. Not only was the night peppered with children's art and compelling video storylines of people touched by the reach of the United Way of Southwest Michigan — a contingent of high school students took to the stage to reveal another record performance year for the agency to wild cheering and applause. 

The traditional annual fundraiser established a new high water mark tonight with revelation of the grand total of $3,859,785, a record for the non-profit organization representing Berrien & Cass Counties in Michigan's Great Southwest.

Tonight was outright owned by the incredible work of volunteers and the direct impact made possible through donors to the United Way. In fact, the very word "impact" was mentioned more than 30 times over the course of the evening. 

As United Way President Anna Murphy puts it, “It was a special evening that represented a very special year.” She tells us, “We are proud to have surpassed our goal, but what’s more important to us is the impact that this money will have on our communities." Murphy points out, "It was evident this evening that great impact was made in 2015, and we are grateful to all of donors, volunteers and community members who helped make this happen.”

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The dynamic team leader for the crew at United Way of Southwest Michigan wasn’t exaggerating, either. More than 69,000 people across Berrien and Cass counties were served in 2015 through United Way. Essentially, that is nearly a third of the population of the two counties combined.

Volunteers racked up nearly 38,000 hours of service, a virtual value of more than $856,000 and the numbers only go on.

Honor Credit Union CEO Scott McFarland says, “2015 proved to be a year when many companies were inspired by the work of our funded partners and collective impact partnerships in the areas of Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs,” McFarland and Honor Credit Union’s Kaylee Williams were the 2015 United Way Campaign Chairs.

United Way backed up the numbers with touching success stories told through a series of four videos presented throughout the course of the evening, one each focusing on Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs.

One video featured 103-year-old Lattie Parker, a client at Harbor House Adult Day Services, a program of Child & Family Services of Southwestern Michigan, Inc. Parker was a special guest at the event, receiving a rousing ovation when she was recognized.

The campaign year 2015 also saw a significant increase in United Way’s school campaigns.  Eighteen districts each ran individual campaigns, contributing to a 14-percent increase from 2014, the first increase in more than 5 years.

CEO Murphy told the crowd tonight, “The companies and individuals who partner with United Way deserve so much credit.” She says, “It shows the commitment and care that they have for their community.”

Here is a list of the award winners presented tonight:

Campaign Chair Recognition
Honor Credit Union
Milestone Awards
Large Business of the Year
Lake Michigan College
American Electric Power, D.C. Cook Plant
Medium Business of the Year
1st Source Bank
Gast Manufacturing, an Idex Corporation
Small Business of the Year
Cass District Library
Wolverine Pipe Line Company
ECC of the Year-Large Business
Joe Tanko, American Electric Power, D.C. Cook Plant
ECC of the Year-Medium Business
Ivan Price, Martin’s Super Market, St. Joseph
ECC of the Year-Small Business
Sarah Hadley, Competitive Edge
Inspired Giving Award Sunset Tool, Inc.
David J. Weichhand Award
Whirlpool Corporation
Impact Chair Recognition
Dr. Clint Gabbard, Lake Michigan College
Gast Manufacturing, an Idex Corporation
Excellence in Impact Award
Zechariah Hoyt, Niles Community Schools Berrien County Council for Children:
Children's Assessment Center

Pacesetter Recognition
Competitive Edge
Edgewater Bank
Honor Credit Union
Kemner-Iott Agency of Cass County
Meijer, Benton Harbor
Meijer, Stevensville
Mid-West Family Broadcasting
Milestone Awards: Breakthrough
AutoCam Corporation
Berrien Springs Public Schools
Lewis Cass Intermediate School District
Lincoln Charter Township
St. Joseph Public Schools
Wolverine Metal Stamping
Milestone Awards: Trendsetter
City of Buchanan
Honor Credit Union
Martin’s Super Market, St. Joseph
Martin’s Super Market, Stevensville
Meijer, Stevensville
Mid-West Family Broadcasting
Teachers Credit Union
Tyler Automotive 
United Federal Credit Union
Milestone Awards: Landmark
Andrews University
Center[ed] On Wellness
Coloma Township Police Competitive Edge
Indiana Michigan Power
Kemner-Iott Agency of Cass County
Lakeland Health
Meijer, Benton Harbor
Mosaic CCDA
Whirlpool Corporation
Milestone Awards: Capstone
Berrien County Cancer Services
Berrien County Council for Children
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass
Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor
Edgewater Bank
Horizon Bank

For more information on United Way or for information about running a campaign, visit www.uwsm.org.  You can also text “UWSM” to 51-555 to receive the 2015 Community Impact Totals, or visit www.uwsm.org/by-the-numbers.   

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