Trumbull United Way Beats Campaign Goal

NILES, Ohio – Not long after they announced the results of the 2015 fundraising campaign, members of the United Way of Trumbull County’s campaign board were busy bagging food in the back room of Niles Community Services.

After pulling canned goods, bread, condiments and other foodstuffs off the shelves – making sure, of course, that there was the right amount of each bag – they delivered them to those stopping by to pick up their supply.

“It isn’t always much, but it’s combined with food stamps and other programs,” Niles Services volunteer Jane Vigorito told them. “They have to learn to stretch it.”

It’s programs like this that will benefit from the $923,873 raised by United Way during its 2015 campaign. In total, the United Way chapter gives to 23 agencies and 40 programs in Trumbull County, as well as two education initiatives – Reading Great by 8 and Partnership for Financial Empowerment.

The reading program has improved the reading level of 60% of participating students since it began in the summer of 2014. The financial program is still being implemented, United Way director Ginny Pasha said, and involves tax preparation services, financial literacy programs and training for United Way staff in related areas.

Having the campaign team members – including a hospital CEO, a car dealer, union leaders and a chief financial officer for a bank – work bagging food plays sends an important message to those on the other side of the programs supported by United Way, Pasha noted. When the United Way has announced their campaign results in the past, she continued, the event typically is at one of the organizations its supports.

“What better way for them to understand the work they put into this campaign than to have them come in and see what the work results in?” she asked. “This is a food pantry that feeds hundreds of people here in Niles.”

Across the programs and agencies it supports, United Way served more than 100,000 people in Trumbull County last year, she said. And the 2015 campaign was the third consecutive year that the organization exceeded its fundraising goal, which was $920,000.

“It’s a great feeling to be part of an organization that hits its goals every year like this,” said John Walsh, CEO of Trumbull Memorial Hospital. “It tells us that we need to keep doing what we’re doing. The people here are committed to this community and we have to continue to gather them together so we can keep supporting things in the community.”

For many of the organizations working with United Way, that kind of support is a lifeline, serving as the main source of funding. Without the group, Niles Community Services wouldn’t be able to operate, director Jean Williams said. United Way has provided support since they opened, she said.

And while providing food is the most visible function – several rooms in the office were piled high with food, along with several stacks of potatoes and apples in the lobby – Niles Community Services also provides clothing, assistance with paying utility bills and medication. Between 350 and 400 families – generally around 1,200 people total – come into the office every month, she said.

“We do quite a few steel-toe boots. If they get a job in a factory and don’t have them, they can’t work. So they tell someone at work, they send us a slip and we get the boots for [the employee],” Williams said. “We could not do this without United Way. They keep a focus on the needs in the community.”

Pictured: Jody Stringer, Ginny Pasha,  Julie Vugrinovich, John Walsh and Jerry McGee.

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