United Way of Elkhart County Reaches Campaign Goal

The United Way of Elkhart County has reached its goal this year by raising enough to help one out of four residents, officials announced on Tuesday.

The agency recently concluded its workplace campaign and raised nearly $2 million to support working families in the areas of health, education and financial stability.

Though the amount surpassed last year’s by about $70,000, Ashley Bowen, director of development, said the agency changed the focus of its campaign goal to emphasize only the number of lives  touched rather than a financial number.

“We moved from helping one out of five people to one out of four people in Elkhart County,” she said.

After launching the advertising campaign that TaigMarks Inc. crafted, ‘I’m a Philanthropist,’ “ Bowen said people throughout Elkhart County saw billboards and gas toppers featuring their neighbors and colleagues sharing their philanthropic spirit.

“The campaign really (helped) people to realize that they don’t need to be wealthy to give back, they can take a little out of their paycheck each week to help their community,” she said. “Every dollar was essential in reaching our final count of nearly $2 million for our community. That’s a powerful group of philanthropists.”

About 4,000 people pledged to the 2018 campaign, which kicked off in August. Businesses, non-profits, and individuals give to United Way to fund the areas of greatest need within Elkhart County, officials said.

Keystone RV Company led the way in mobilizing the largest company donations for the campaign again this year with the coordination of campaign presentations with nearly every employee.

“I’m so grateful for all the individuals and companies that have invested in the community through United Way. They are making a huge impact in our community. Working together, we are changing lives,” said Bill Rieth, United Way President/CEO.

United Way of Elkhart County fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in the community, officials said in a news release.

“Everyone deserves opportunities for a good life: a solid education leading to a stable job, enough income to support a family, and good health. Advancing the common good is about strengthening the systems that help us all,” officials said in a statement.

This coordinated approach involves a long-term vision, a commitment to innovation, and alliances with effective partners.

United Way’s annual funding process features community-led volunteer panels that review grants, attend agency site visits, and interview organizations, then use that information to make funding recommendations to target programs that will have the largest impact on Elkhart County families.

Keith Sarber, vice president of community impact at United Way, said the agency is leading the fight for working families in Elkhart County.

“We know that hard working families still fall short, it’s usually due to an unforeseen financial emergency,” Sarber said. “We see individuals who struggle to find affordable quality childcare, we see families barely able to make ends meet due to a common cold, household or transportation repairs or a needed prescription,’’ he said.

“Elkhart families work hard and should be able to provide for their families without falling further and further behind. It is United Way’s mission to build a resilient community and to give people the opportunity to have financial stability and a good life,” Sarber added.

By BLAIR YANKEY - byankey@elkharttruth.comp
Feb 27, 2019