Trumbull United Way Launches 2016 Campaign

WARREN, Ohio – With shovels, rakes and gloves in hand, some 100 volunteers set out across Trumbull County this morning as they kicked off the 2016 campaign for the United Way of Trumbull County.

But first, it was last year’s campaign – which concluded in March – that took front and center at the Packard Shelter House. Thanks to a donation from the General Motors Foundation matching the funds raised by workers at the GM Lordstown Complex, an extra $113,670 was added to the total.

Factoring in that donation, the final figure for the 2015 campaign was $1,037,543.

“We continue to trend upwards. At one point in time, Trumbull County was raising $3.5 million but as industry has changed, it’s reflected in the campaign,” said the Trumbull chapter’s president, Ginny Pasha. “We’re excited to be able to finally use ‘million dollars’ and we’re incredibly thankful to team Lordstown and General Motors. We just found out Wednesday, so this is a very new development. This is big news.”

It marks the first time since 2011 that United Way of Trumbull County has raised more than $1 million.

After the cheers from the announcement subsided, volunteers moved out to 23 sites across Trumbull County to pull weeds, trim bushes and paint porches as part of United Way at Work, the official beginning this year’s campaign. The goal, Pasha said, is $930,000. The United Way’s Pacesetter companies have already raised nearly $200,000, she added.

Work sites included Veteran’s Memorial Park in Warren, as well as homes in Warren, Girard and Niles.

“They love it. We’ll all talk about this for weeks to come, sharing stories and talking about the people you’ve met. It’s fulfilling,” said Kathy Cook, president of St. Joseph’s Warren Hospital, which provided 26 volunteers. “It’s why we’re here. Our goal is to make the community better, make it healthier, make it stronger. Giving back and helping those we serve is important to all of us.”

This year marks the third that workers from St. Joseph’s have participated in United Way at Work. The hospital also hosts a pumpkin-decorating contest each fall as a fundraiser for United Way.

Picking up his complimentary pair of work gloves and bright yellow United Way t-shirt, Mayor Doug Franklin took note of just how far reaching the impact of the organization reaches, even on short, day-long projects like this.

“It gives us an outreach approach into neighborhoods and homes where people have serious needs. It gets us into the community and shows what this organization is about,” said Franklin, who serves on the board of directors.

Money distributed by the United Way has touched “almost every nonprofit in the Valley and Trumbull County in particular,” he said, including rehabilitation, education and counseling programs, as well as housing and the Urban League.

Franklin pointed out that when one yard is cleaned, the repercussions extend beyond the property lines.

“One of the biggest thrills I get from this day is seeing the expression of joy from the residents. They’re all appreciative and it has a ripple effect to their neighbors as well,” he said.

Before heading to their designated sites, groups participating for the first time said they were excited to be able to take part in such a wide-reaching effort that has an impact on almost every community in Trumbull County.

“We’re not just a place where students take classes, but a community that wants to make the Greater Warren community better, livelier, sustainable and happier,” said Lance Grahn, dean of Kent State University at Trumbull. “It’s a way we can make the commitment to our community real. It’ll be a great day for us and for Warren.”

The Kent State satellite campus had eight volunteers present, Grahn noted, adding that he expects campus representatives to be back in years to come.

Even longtime participants said that the kickoff projects are often among the highlights of the campaign season and show how deep the support of the United Way runs.

“Despite everything we’ve been through over the past 10 years, we continue to step up and support our communities. We know we’re fortunate to have jobs and to help those in need is part of our DNA,” said Tom Mock, communications manager for GM Lordstown. “There’s great leadership, both at UAW and GM, that recognizes the importance of efforts like the matching program. It’s important and it really helps the people in need in our region.”

While Friday marks the first day of fundraising for the new campaign, work will be done throughout the coming months to help United Way of Trumbull County reach its goal. Donations through payroll deductions occur throughout the year and several participating companies will host fundraiser.

United Way will host its annual Pumpkin 5K in October, although no date has been set yet, Pasha said.To help drive donations, Greg Greenwood of Greenwood Chevrolet is offering a new Chevrolet Cruze or $15,000 cash to be raffled off. Anyone over 18 who donates at least $260 to the 2016 campaign will be entered in the raffle.

Pictured: United Way of Trumbull County President Ginny Pasha, Kent State University at Trumbull Dean Lance Grahn and St. Joseph’s Warren Hospital President Kathy Cook at the kick off of United Way’s 2016 fundraising campaign.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.