United Way of Geauga County Charts Course for Their Future

Over two hundred supporters and guests celebrated the accomplishments of United Way Services of Geauga County at their 2013-14 Annual Meeting at the Notre Dame Education Center in Chardon on Friday, April 11. The theme of the luncheon was Charting a Course for Our Future.

Dave Chew of Parkson Corporation and current Board Chair shared that in 2013, United Way started turning outward to examine the biggest needs of the community. As part of a strategic plan, funded in part by the Lake Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, United Way hosted dozens of “community conversations,” with individuals, agencies, educators, government, law enforcement, and faith based groups. The goal was not just to find out what the biggest needs were, but also to listen to the aspirations they had for Geauga County. Chew said, “Wow, did we learn a lot from these conversations! We heard a great deal of consistency regarding aspirations of educational success for all children, self sufficiency for families, the ability to receive adequate health care and behavioral health services as well as the desire to live in a community where children and adults remain free from addiction.”

The Board and staff are now using all the information gathered to create a Community Impact agenda which will focus on three main impact areas: increasing early childhood success, improving the financial stability of individuals and families, and increasing disease prevention and access to health care.

Distinguished speakers at the event were Congressman David Joyce and State Senator John Eklund, who is a past Board Chair at United Way and a current Board member. The focus of their speeches was the importance of early education. Senator Eklund stated that in 2015, Ohio will be increasing funding in early education by 12 million dollars. Congressman Joyce commended United Way for taking a role in supporting early learning.

Congratulated at the luncheon were campaign co-chairs Monica Lennon of University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center and Kathy Pahr of The Cleveland Orchestra and Party411.com for leading a campaign that exceeded the 2013 campaign goal of $895,000 by raising $943,638, the highest dollar amount raised by United Way Services of Geauga County. Lennon says, “We are proud to partner with United Way which provides us the opportunity to play a role in making a positive impact on our community. Geauga is a community known for great prosperity, but there is a Geauga County many of us have never seen; where our friends, coworkers and neighbors cannot meet their most basic human needs of food, shelter, and medical care. Many thanks to the individuals and organizations that support United Way and allow them to do their work.”

Receiving special recognition at the event for their contributions were: Fairmount Minerals; Great Lakes Cheese Co.; Geauga County Public Library; Giant Eagle Stores; Cleveland Clinic, Chagrin Falls Family Center, and the Bainbridge Urgent Care; Mar-Bal, Inc.; Ledgemont School District; Westwood Elementary School of West Geauga Schools; R.W. Sidley; Duramax Marine; University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center; De Nora Tech; Hill Group Health Care; Advance Auto Parts; Channel Products, Inc.; Heather Hill Care Communities; Junction Auto Family; and Chardon Healthcare Care.