It was a day filled with gratitude for community collaborations, partnerships and volunteers.
Set in the picturesque surroundings of Meadow Ridge Farm on the outskirts of the county, United Way Services of Geauga County hosted its Annual Meeting on September 15th with a casual, barbecue luncheon for over 200 guests.
The theme was Because of You, which means this event was all about the partnerships, collaborative programs and volunteer efforts that have made a positive impact on this community. And this year, United Way broke with tradition, staying away from formal presentations and instead in under one hour, two of their board members lead in a “talk-show” format inviting audience members to share their experiences with the crowd. Funded agency partners, and recipients of services from both the partner agencies and United Way’s collaborative programs told personal, moving and inspirational stories of hope, courage and positive impact.
The hosts talked about how United Way invests resources to achieve the most effective community impact, collaborates with stakeholders to develop and manage programs that support our most vulnerable neighbors and engages the community in activities that change lives.
United Way also expressed how grateful they are for the collaborations, partnerships and volunteers. First, thanking several collaborators who went above and beyond to help improve the quality of life in our community, their support and collaboration has been critical to achieving greater community success. Honorees were Geauga Growth Partnership, The Geauga Credit Union, Geauga Job and Family Services – Ohio Means Jobs, and The Cleveland Foundation. Next, they thanked corporate partners whose time, energy and commitment made to the community has been outstanding. They recognized new and growing partners who have stepped up in a big way – beyond campaign support, these companies have engaged their employees in new and innovative ways to positively impact our community. The honorees were Kraftmaid, Tarkett, and Geauga Savings Bank. Finally, they recognized four volunteers who have done amazing work for and with United Way Services of Geauga County over the last year. Realizing that these volunteers give selflessly of their time and they are committed to supporting our community – their gift is simply priceless. Among the honorees were Eileen Adkins, Co-Chair of the Women’s Leadership Council, Kathy Poyar, Treasurer for the Salvation Army’s Geauga Unit and member of the Geauga Hunger Task Force Board, Rita Dutton, Volunteer with United Way and Josh Holbrook of Fairmount Santrol.
The program closed with a heartfelt, real-life, story from a Geauga County resident who talked about her struggle as she moves forward in her career and, in turn, begins to lose her benefits, this is sometimes called the Benefits Cliff. Unfortunately, she is not alone, about 25% of our residents are in this category, working but struggling to make ends meet, with every additional penny they earn watching helplessly as their social services benefits quickly begin to disappear.
The guests left the event inspired to continue supporting United Way as they strive to improve the quality of life in Geauga County. All who attended seemed pleased with the location, format and most importantly, the message, saying things like, “What a superb United Way Annual Meeting-one of the best I’ve attended. It not only was informative, but an inspiration to us all!” and “AWESOME Annual Meeting today! The United Way team did a FANTASTIC job. I can honestly say that was the best meeting to date!” and “What a gorgeous day! Kudos to all of United Way staff for such an amazing powerful luncheon!!”
United Way could not have hosted such a wonderful event without the support of the sponsors:
Geauga Savings Bank, Sheoga Hardwood Flooring & Paneling, Great Lakes Cheese, Kent State University – Geauga Campus, Kinetico, The Geauga Credit Union, Geauga Growth Partnership, De Nora Tech, Home Instead Senior Care, Hagan Street Rod Necessities, Lake Health, ‘Leen on Me Organizing, LOCLE Box, Magnus Equipment, Moseman Law Offices, Gerry Stadler of Morgan Stanley, and University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, Giant Eagle for helping with the floral decorations, and GTV for supplying the sound equipment and recording the event.
United Way Services of Geauga County unites people and resources to measurably improve the self-sufficiency of individuals and families in Geauga County.