Compassion of the Valley shines in success of UW


Three cheers are in order FOR the slew of individuals, companies, foundations, unions and other donors that proved once again that the Mahoning Valley puts its money where its heart is.

The money of which we speak is the $3.14 million raised in the 2017 fundraising campaign of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. That final tally announced earlier this week at a ceremony at Prospect Elementary School in Girard meets and beats the $2.9 million goal set by the social-service agency and represents a $140,000 increase over the impressive amount raised in 2016.

At a time when the Valley’s population continues to decline and needs for vital helping services continue to escalate, the leaders of the largest United Way agency in the tri-county area also merit hearty congratulations for their due diligence.

For decades now, the organization has succeeded in raising tens of millions of dollars to ensure that scores of critically needed education, health and social-service agencies in our region survive and thrive.

For generations now, the United Way and its predecessor, the Community Chest, have acted as a regional clearing house for dozens of charitable entities that provide services to virtually every segment of the community. Success has long been its watchword.

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley follows the guidelines established by United Way worldwide with a focus on results-oriented work in the three areas: education, income and health. Donors to the campaign can rest assured that 98 cents of every dollar collected helps to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 170,000 people in the Greater Youngstown area, campaign leaders pledge.

In announcing this year’s results, UW Campaign Chairman Garry Mrozek, chief executive officer of Hometown Pharmacy Solutions, rightfully thanked all staff, volunteers and donors who contributed to the campaign’s success.

MISSION OF UNITED WAY

He also summarized the noble mission of the institution: “The United Way continues to create positive change by collaborating with partners to focus on the caring power of the people of our Valley.”

Leading the charge to success in workplace campaigns in the 2017 were the General Motors Lordstown Complex and its United Auto Workers local unions. The Home Savings Charitable Foundation set the pace among many foundation gifts.

But every gift – regardless of its size– will play a role in strengthening the widening mission of the local UW affiliate.

The umbrella organization for siphoning funds to other helping agencies and schools has in recent years embarked in developing its own Impact programs, many of which focus on education.

This year’s expanded funding will enable UW to expand its highly acclaimed Success After 6 program in additional elementary schools in Youngstown, Girard and Liberty.

The early childhood initiative focuses on the child and the child’s family by providing wraparound services and after-school programs. Some of its goals, as well as those for UW’s Success by 6 program for pre-schoolers and kindergartners, mirror those most in demand, particularly in troubled urban school districts like Youngstown’s.

As we hail yet another triumphant fundraising drive, we also urge the United Way chapter to vigorously pursue continued growth of these and other direct-action programs to extend ever farther its long stretch of success in enriching our community.

“We are extremely pleased with the work that our Education, Income and Health committees have done to complete our move to the impact model of funding,” said Laura Lyden, community impact chairwoman and a board member.

“Our committee members donated hundreds of volunteer hours reviewing and ranking the proposals. We feel confident that our donor’s dollars are being directed to initiatives that will truly make a difference in our community,” she added.

How much of my contribution stays local?

98 cents out of every dollar stays right here in the Mahoning Valley, helping to improve the lives of over 170,000 people in our community every year. United Way is focused on advancing the common good in the Mahoning County by creating opportunities for everyone in the areas of Education, Income and Health.

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Where do we service?

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley services residents in all of Mahoning County as well as the Trumbull County communities of Girard, Liberty and Hubbard.

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alcorn@vindy.com

GIRARD

The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s 2017 financial campaign topped the $3 million mark for the second straight year.

The 2017 campaign, led by Garry Mrozek, chief executive officer of Hometown Pharmacy Solutions, raised $3,143,522, exceeding the 2017 financial campaign goal of $2.9 million by $243,522, the local United Way announced Tuesday at a news conference at Prospect Elementary School.

“Our United Way’s impact work, which focuses on early-education initiatives such as Success After 6 and Success by 6, drives the growth in our campaign,” said Robert Hannon, United Way president.

Prospect Elementary is an example of which Hannon referred.

“Prospect is the first school outside of Youngstown to partner with United Way in the Success After 6 program. Our focus is on Youngstown children, but we realize that children in other districts can also benefit from the program,” Hannon said.

A Success After 6 program started in Liberty Schools in January and another is expected to get underway in Campbell Schools in the fall, he said.

Prospect Elementary and the community have bought in to the Success After 6 program. The only cost to the district is transportation, Hannon said.

“The enrichment piece, which provided field trips, is wonderful,” said Prospect Principal Debbie Gratz.

The Rev. Vicky Kelley, pastor of the Girard First United Methodist Church, and church member Sara Korb, a retired Girard teacher, are heading a campaign to get volunteers to participate in Project More, in which community members read with children in grades kindergarten through second.

“Our congregation sees it as a way to give back to the community,” Pastor Kelley said.

In addition to the annual financial campaign, which is raised locally and funds the United Way’s impact programs and 44 programs operated by 31 nonprofit agencies, the local United Way this year received $1 million in 21st Century federal grants, which are administered by the Ohio Department of Education.

The money can only be used for wrap-around programs, such as vision and dental, before or after school, Hannon said.

The grant not only funds wrap-around programs, its frees up general campaign funds previously used for those purposes, he said.

Mrozek, who was 2017 campaign chairman and chairman of the local United Way’s board of directors, praised the “tremendous United Way staff, the volunteers and our many generous contributors who make this campaign possible.”

“The United Way continues to create positive change by collaborating with partners to focus on the caring power of the people of our valley,” Mrozek said.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley exceeded its 2017 campaign goal of $2.9 million by raising $3,143,522 for the community.

United Way’s impact work, which focuses on early education initiatives such as Success After 6 and Success By 6 after-school programs, drove the growth for the past year’s annual campaign, a United Way official said.

The United Way announced its 2017 campaign results Tuesday at Girard’s Prospect Elementary School, one of seven Success After 6 sites.

Kindergarten, first- and second-grade students from the after-school program, as well as teachers and volunteers who work in the program, were on hand for the announcement.

“Our United Way is dedicated to breaking down the barriers students and families face in our community,” said Bob Hannon, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley president. “We are extremely grateful to our donors who place their trust in us to do this important work.”

The 2017 campaign raised $140,675 more than 2016’s campaign total of $3,002,847, which is a reflection on the community and the economy improving over the last eight years, Hannon said.

Success After 6 is an early childhood initiative that focuses on the child and the child’s family by providing wraparound services, and an after-school program. It has been implemented in Girard, Youngstown City Schools, Youngstown Community School, and Liberty Local Schools.

This initiative is a main reason for the campaign’s growth this year, as four major donors made significant gifts to “Adopt-A-School” in the campaign, which is a $50,000 commitment, Hannon said.

“We received several large corporate gifts and we’re seeing more donors that want to designate their gift to this work,” he said.

Chris and Ed Muransky adopted Youngstown Community School; Gloria Jones and Fireline Inc. adopted Martin Luther King Elementary; Huntington Bank adopted McGuffey Elementary; Denise DeBartolo-York and The DeBartolo Corp. adopted Williamson Elementary; Ronald McDonald House Charities along with an anonymous donor adopted Taft Elementary; and Ronald McDonald House Charities adopted Girard Prospect Elementary.

Garry Mrozek, CEO of Hometown Pharmacy Solutions, served as the 2017 campaign chairman and has been involved with the United Way for more than 30 years. “The United Way continues to create positive change by collaborating with partners to focus on the caring power of the people in our Valley,” he said.

United Way’s work in the Success After 6 program allows it to engage its donors in new ways, Hannon noted.

The donors have volunteered their time to tutor children, be mentors, and help with projects such as vision screening. United Way screened 2,000 students in Youngstown, and helped more than 200 of them to get glasses and proper eye care.

“By turning our donors into volunteers and our volunteers into donors, we are able to raise funds necessary to provide these initiatives and programs,” Hannon said.

This is the first year for Success After 6 at the Girard Elementary School with its focus on kindergarten through second grade. United Way plans to bring the program to other schools next year with a verbal commitment to Campbell K-7 School and to expand in the Youngstown City Schools, where it now operates in five of the nine city elementary schools.

United Way funds similar programs, such as Success By 6, a pre-kindergarten readiness program that helps students prepare for their first time in a classroom, and Imagination Library, a free book program for children under the age of five that also helps parents with literacy techniques.

Project More — Mentoring in Ohio for Reading Excellence — is an initiative under the Success After 6 program that has volunteers come one to two times each week to Girard to help students with reading.

“The impact is going to be tremendous when the children are able to read at grade level and able to learn because they now know how to read,” said Pastor Vicky Kelley of Girard First United Methodist Church, a Project More volunteer. “We just know what we’re doing has tangible benefits for every child we interact with and have relationships with.”

The campaign currently funds 44 programs operated by 31 nonprofit agencies that work in education and emergency services.

“We need volunteers. We will never get to where we want to get to by doing it alone,” Hannon said. “Volunteers are the critical piece.”

2017 Campaign Break Down

The top 10 workplace campaigns were:

•General Motors Lordstown Complex and UAW Locals 1112 and 1714

•AT&T

•Dearing Compressor and Pump

•Compco Industries

•Youngstown State University

•Home Savings Bank

•UPS

•The Surgical Hospital at Southwoods

•Altronic, LLC

•AIM Transportation Solutions

The top 5 foundation gifts came from:

•Home Savings Charitable Foundation

•Frank & Pearl Gelbman Charitable Foundation

•General Motors Foundation

•Walter & Helen Bender Memorial Fund

•The Youngstown Foundation

New foundation gifts came from:

•Amazon Smile

•Dentaquest

•Flo Navarro Foundation

•Nordson Foundation

•Ronald McDonald House Charities

•The James and Coralie Centofanti Charitable Foundation

•John D. Beeghly Fund

•YSU Pay it Forward

New workplace campaigns were:

•Aqua Ohio

•Palmer-Donavin

•Equitas Health

•Pennex Aluminum Company

•Dinesol Plastics

•Compco Quaker Manufacturing

•Firestone Laser and Manufacturing

Pictured at top: Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley, and Gary Mrozek, CEO of Hometown Pharmacy Solutions and chairman of the fundraising campaign.

Doing more with less has been a recognized necessity of life in business for some time now, and the concept is catching on in government. Inevitably the need for greater efficiency spreads throughout other institutions, including social service agencies.

For generations the United Way and its predecessor, the Community Chest, have acted as clearing houses for dozens of charitable entities that provide services to virtually every segment of the community. The idea was to make it easier for people to support charitable work. And it has worked admirably, reducing fund-raising costs for member agencies and allowing donors to provide support for many charities with one pledge. The pledge can even be spread throughout the year through payroll deductions.

The model has worked so well that it has received strong support from major employers throughout the community and from labor unions.

It should come as no surprise, however, that in an area such as the Mahoning Valley, where thousands of jobs have been lost in major industries, the time has come to look for ways to make the united effort work even more efficiently.

Success has long been the watchword of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

For decades now, the organization has succeeded in raising tens of millions of dollars to ensure that scores of critically needed social-service agencies in our region can survive and thrive. Just last week, the UW affiliate reported it had raised $2.95 million during its 2015 fundraising campaign, a whopping $350,000 above its ambitious goal.

But philanthropic community fundraising is only one factor in UW’s formula for success. Increasingly, the agency has been adopting more active, hands-on, results-oriented approaches to achieve its broader mission of enhancing the quality of life for all in the Mahoning Valley.

One relatively new example of that commitment to make a positive community impact has been the agency’s own Success After Six program.

It debuted last year at Youngstown Community School as an educational initiative designed to bring together school and community resources to provide an intentional focus on academics, health and social services, as well as social and emotional development.

Some of its goals mirror those most in demand, particularly in urban landscapes such as Youngstown. They include improving reading, increasing parental involvement and decreasing tardiness and absenteeism in school.

Those issues also just happen to be some of the same trouble spots that continue to vex Youngstown City Schools. We therefore look forward to the program’s projected expansion into the city’s public school system as soon as possible.

ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY

Success After Six has built upon the achievements of its predecessor, Success By Six, a pre-kindergarten early literacy program that has witnesses phenomenal growth and accomplishments since its inception seven years ago.

Clearly, Success By Six and Success After Six have proven themselves as invaluable community assets. The programs deserve the support and involvement of the entire community. Call the UW Youngstown office to offer your volunteer services.

As Robert Hannon, president of UW of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, put it at last week’s annual meeting of the group, “I think there is magic going on there.”

We look for Success After Six and Success By Six to expand their magical and potentially transformative reach to greater numbers of Valley children and schools in the months and years ahead.

We also urge the United Way chapter to vigorously pursue the growth of these and other direct-action programs to extend even farther its long stretch of successes in community enrichment.

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