Darke County United Way kicks-off 2023 United Way Campaign


By Meladi Brewer


GREENVILLE — The Darke County United Way (DCUW) hosted its kickoff luncheon Wednesday at Romer’s Catering in Greenville. The luncheon, sponsored by Whirlpool, provided a way to celebrate the DCUW’s 2022 accomplishments, honor the donors and agency programs, and kick-off the 2023 United Way Campaign.

DCUW’s mission is to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Darke County. Relying largely on donations, The United Way sent a special thank you out to everyone who made the last year a success.

Executive Director Becca Cotterman gave a special thank you to the event sponsors, Whirlpool, for their generous donations over the years. Cotterman said “between Whirlpool, the supportive staff at the plant, and their foundation, which matches 100 percent, this group makes up the United Way’s largest campaign of 44 percent of the United Ways total campaign.” Whirlpool’s donations totaled $241,534.16 last year.

“Last year, with everyone’s help, we raised $552,344.82,” Cotterman said. “We were able to succeed and go over our goal, so thank you very much.”

She said that amount allowed the United Way to serve over 16,000 Darke Countians last year through the 20 plus programs.

“I am very fortunate to work with generous leaders who give freely of their time, talents, and resources for their dedication to the United Way,” Cotterman said.

The United Way provides community members with the tools necessary to maintain or become outstanding models in society. Jean Young has served 12 years on the DCUW Board and has personally advocated for the mission and programs the United Way provides for the community.

“When I think about the United Way, I personally think about a safety net,” Young said. “I have seen the value of many of the 26 programs that are listed. I have seen the value they provide for the people in this community, the residents.”

Young said the programs are broken down into three areas: stability, education, and health. She goes on to break down the categories, explaining why each one is important because of what they provide.

“Stability is something we all need to survive. The programs under stability provide food, rent help, utility help, medical help, and they provide education when a child cannot afford to go to the Darke County YMCA for the development program,” Young said.

The United Way helps those who don’t make enough for the program but make too much for Jobs and Family Services to help. The stability programs help get those kids put into the development program. She said “that’s stability. That’s providing for the future.” Providing ways for stability is important because it provides for the future.

“Under education, we need to educate our kids. We need to understand, and we need to make our kids understand the value of what education does for us,” Young said.

The United Way provides programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Club for children to feel safe under some type of supervision so they aren’t running around on the street, and it “provides a place where they are actually learning something and being a little bit supervised”.

“Then there is the Dolly Parton Imagination Library,” Young said. “That program provides a book once a month for every child from birth until they are five years old, so in that child’s lifetime until they are five, they may have received 60 books.”

She said that program prepares the youth for when they get older, and Ohio leads in that area.

The United Way also hosts Stuff the Bus events to provide children in need with school supplies in all Darke County Schools, so no child is without due to any circumstance.

She talks about one of her favorite programs, Aces. Aces is an alternative school setting providing students counseling, behavioral, and educational instruction for those who cannot learn in a normal school setting. She says those who don’t mesh with the normal school environment can come to the Aces program and learn there.

“They can go to this program and work on their issues, but they also get their education in order to graduate with their class wearing their cap and gown. They walk out with a diploma, and they can get a job,” Young said. “If we would have ignored those kids, then those kids would have been lost to society.”

Then there is health care, and one of the programs talked about was the Cancer Association of Darke County. The Cancer Association provides support, services, information, and referrals to Darke County cancer patients and families.

“Anyone dealing with this needs support; not only the patient, but also the family,” Young said.

Other programs include Community Action that provides transportation services for individuals over 60 years of age, EverHeart Hospice that provides pre-hospice, palliative care, hospice and grief-support services, and SafeHaven, Inc. for those who have mental health needs. The United Way also helps with Recovery and Wellness Centers of Midwest Ohio for outpatient treatment for substance abuse.

“Addiction is a real problem, and addiction is just like diabetes, chronic heart failure, COPD, and cancer. It’s an illness,” Young said.

She said we need to treat it like an illness and try to treat it like you would cure an illness because not everyone is born with the addiction gene.

“When you have that, you often need the additional help to be clean,” Young said. “Once you are clean, and you have the support like you get from Recovery and Wellness, then you are able to stay that way.”

She asked for the continuous support in order to continue the programs via donation, so the United Way can keep sponsoring these programs to the community and better Darke County. 2023 Campaign Chair Kimberlee Freeman agreed with Young about how important these programs are important to the community.

“These programs magnify the unique thing we have in Darke County and our ability to care for each other,” Freeman said. “It is something to be proud of that we should not take for granted.”

Freeman closed with a quote by Kathy Calvin, “giving isn’t about a donation. It is about making a difference.”

For information about how you can give, visit www.darkecountyunitedway.org/give.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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