Van Buren County United Way
Celebrates Campaign, Volunteers
During its Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon
Van Buren County United Way celebrated its 2014-15 fundraising campaign during its Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon, held Tuesday, May 19 at the ISD Conference Center in Lawrence.
The theme of this year's event was "It's a Jungle Out There," in acknowledgement of the tough economic conditions affecting the state and county. "Our local service agencies, volunteers and other organizations are working harder than ever with fewer resources to meet increased needs," said Vera E. Sebree, United Way Executive Director. "Last year United Way and its Partner Agencies responded to almost 180,000 calls for help. Everyone is having to get creative to address those calls. We're all trying not to leave anyone hanging, but it's tough."
United Way recognized the companies supporting the 2014-15 Annual Campaign. "These companies and the employees who help run their Campaigns are so important to this community. We could not continue our work without their ongoing generosity," said Sebree, "
- Bronze Award (UW Campaign totaling $4,000-9,999)
Bronson Lakeview Hospital
Fifth Third Bank / Fifth Third Foundation
Van Buren Community Mental Health Authority
Van Buren Intermediate School District
- Silver Award (UW Campaign totaling $10,000-19,999)
Meijer - South Haven
Western Diversified Plastics
- Platinum Award (UW Campaign totaling $30,000-49,999)
- Diamond Leadership Award ($50,000+ campaign)
- Beacon Award - for an Outstanding Campaign that sets a positive example for others
Meijer-South Haven for a first-time, Silver Level Campaign
The following offices were presented with 100% Participation Awards for their involvement of all staff in their 2014-15 Campaign:
- CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services)
- Chemical Bank - Hartford Branch
- Chemical Bank - Paw Paw Branch
- Chemical Bank - South Haven Main Branch
- Chemical Bank - South Haven Suburban Branch
- Fifth Third Bank - Paw Paw Branch
- Van Buren Youth Camp
The Campaign Fun Award was presented to CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services) for their fun and creative campaign fundraising events.
The On-Time Campaign Award was won by campaign coordinator Melissa Zagrzebski of Van Buren Community Mental Health.
The VITA tax program was honored for a record-breaking year, with more than 2,600 returns completed and more than $2.7 million in credits and returns brought back to the local economy.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers were honored for their thousands of hours of service, The Great Start Collaborative and Paw Paw Service League were thanked for their sponsorship of the Getting Ahead program, and Karen and Carrie Klimp were recognized for their year-round volunteerism at the United Way office.
Retiring United Way Board Member Mary Ann Weaver, of Mercantile Bank, was honored as the United Way Volunteer of the Year for her 7 years of service as United Way Treasurer.
For further information, contact Van Buren County United Way, 269/657-2410.
Thanks to all the volunteers who made our Fifth Paw Paw United Way Free VITA tax site a great success! We opened for free tax service to low income residents of Van Buren County from February through April. Hours of volunteers offered services with refunds exceeding $1.5M for people of Van Buren County.
Thanks to the following site Locations:
South Haven Senior Services - South Haven & Township Halls
VBC United Way - Paw Paw
DHS - Hartford
ISD -Virtual Tax Site Lawrence
United Way would like to thank everyone who supported our fourth annual Stuff the Bus county-wide food drive! Our local pantries have seen the need for their services more than double since this time last year, so this event was critical to get them stocked up and ready for the high demands of winter and the holidays.
The need is great but once again Van Buren County residents and businesses stepped up to help. Glenn Cowles of The UPS Store and Dondi Squires of State Farm Insurance helped offset a large share of United Way's expenses by co-sponsoring production of the banners used at our collection sites. The grocery store managers at Village Market, Wagoner's, Family Fare , Dollar General, and Harding's Friendly Market welcomed our efforts and posted signs announcing the event.
Across the county, local school transportation managers arranged to station buses at their local grocery stores. The bus drivers, who volunteered their time, arrived on time and assisted the volunteers in placing our Stuff the Bus banners on their buses. The food pantry volunteers greeted customers, sorted food and re-stocked their pantry shelves.
The most delightful feedback I have received were the comments concerning Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, who staffed the entrances of every grocery store all day. According to board memeber Jim Vettese, "All the Girl Scouts I met with were very excited to help others in their community." Jim Tessar VBCUW board memeber agreed, "The Girls Scouts were just delightful and so full of energy."
Everyone who came together for the good of our food pantries and those they serve truly embodied the United Way mission: LIVE UNITED. Thanks to each and every one of you who participated in United Way's Stuff the Bus! You should be proud to live in such a caring county.
Vera E. Sebree
Van Buren County United Way
The Paw Paw Service League was honored with a Community Leadership Award for more than 6 years of continuous support to Van Buren County United Way.