United Way honors those who help

Van Buren County United Way held its annual meeting and awards luncheon, May 23, at the Van Buren Intermediate School District’s Conference Center, Lawrence. The event celebrated the 2017-18 fundraising campaign, and thanked those who have supported United Way throughout the year. VBCUW Executive Direct Vera Sebree, right, presents the Gold Award - UW campaign totaling $20,000-$29,999 to Nick Culp and Valary Gent, representing Palisades/Entergy.	 Courier-Leader photos/Paul Garrod
Silver Award - UW campaign totaling $10,000-19,999, honorees included, from left: Van Buren Community Mental Health Authority, represented by Melissa Zagrzebski;  MPI Research, A Charles River Company, represented by Jennifer Petersen,  and  Mol-Son, Inc., represented by Lisa Weurding. Pfizer was also a Silver Award recipient. Bronze Award - UW campaign totaling $4,000-$9,999, recipients were, from left:  Bronson LakeView Hospital, represented by Joyce Griffith; UPS, represented by Glenn Cowles; and Chemical Bank, represented by Maria Diaz. Other  Bronze Award recipients included Consumers Energy, Meijer, and PNC Bank.


    LAWRENCE - “Building a Better Community!” was the theme of this year’s Van Buren County United Way annual meeting and awards luncheon, held May 23, at the Van Buren Intermediate School District’s   Conference Center, here.
    The event celebrated the 2017-18 fundraising campaign, and thanked the volunteers, service agencies and individuals who have supported United Way throughout the year.
    “Last year, United Way and its Partner Agencies responded to over 201,000 calls for assistance. We want to recognize our Partner agencies and their employees, who are working with people every day to help them better their lives," said Vera E. Sebree, United Way executive director. “In addition, more than 1,115 individuals worked over 82,000 hours for United Way-supported or partnered programs.”
    United Way thanked the companies supporting the 2017-18 campaign.   “We could not continue our work to better our communities without their ongoing generosity, and we are so thankful for their support” said Sebree.
    Key note address was offered by Pastor Jason Bull of Freshwater Community Church, Paw Paw.  Pastor Bull emphasized that true community takes place at the individual level and for true community building to occur, there first must be a relationship. For every community, small or large, is developed through individual relationships, trust and sharing.
    This year’s awards included:
    Bronze Award  - (UW Campaign totaling $4,000-9,999)
    • Bronson LakeView Hospital
    •Chemical Bank
    •Consumers Energy
    •PNC Bank

    Silver Award (UW Campaign totaling $10,000-19,999)
    •Mol-Son, Inc.
    •MPI Research, a Charles River Company
    •Van Buren Community Men-tal Health Authority.
    Gold Award (UW Campaign totaling $20,000-29,999)

    Platinum Award (UW Campaign totaling $30,000-49,999)
    •Western Diversified Plastics
    Building a Better Community Award - for sustained service to our communities.
    • Sue Danielson
    “Sue Danielson has dedicated her life to the education of young children through her teaching career. Sue tirelessly gives of herself to the community through volunteering and fundraising,”  said Tanier.  “For 10 years, Sue has volunteered as a VITA Free tax preparer, worked to secure funding for the Paw Paw Library, and is a participating member and president of the Paw Paw Rotary, 100 Women Who Care, Eleanor’s Food Pantry, park projects and many other improvement initiatives over the past years. Sue is an example of selfless giving and sets a great example for all of us through her passion to help build community.”
    The following offices were presented with 100 Percent Participation Awards for their involvement of all staff in their 2016-17 Campaign:
    •CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services)
      •Chemical Bank - Bloomingdale
    •Chemical Bank - Hartford Branch
      •Chemical Bank - Paw Paw Branch
    •Chemical Bank - Sister Lakes Branch
       •Chemical Bank - South Haven Suburban Branch
    •Child and Family Services of SW Michigan
    Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers were honored for their thousands of hours of service, which brought back more than $3.2 million in refunds, credits and saved preparation fees.
    Karen and Carrie Klimp were recognized for their year-round volunteerism at the United Way office for the past 11 years.
    Retiring United Way Board member Mary Ann Weaver, of Mercantile Bank, was honored for her 10 years of service.

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