United Way’s 2020 ‘Live United’ campaign begins

Kyle Metzger, president and CEO of United Way of Huntington County, addresses those in attendance both physically and virtually at the United Way kickoff luncheon at St. Peter’s First Community Church on Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Kyle Metzger, president and CEO of United Way of Huntington County, addresses those in attendance both physically and virtually at the United Way kickoff luncheon at St. Peter’s First Community Church on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

With the theme “Live United: Now More Than Ever” the United Way of Huntington County kicked off its 2020 fund-raising campaign on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

Kyle Metzger, president and CEO of the United Way of Huntington County, addressed those in attendance, both physically and virtually, at a kickoff luncheon, which was held at St. Peter’s First Community Church.

This year’s fund-raising campaign will look different than years past in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, Metzger states that things are in fact “moving on all cylinders.”

He explained that many fund-raising efforts will be “hybrid.”

“One thing we are doing here – many of you already know this – is very much a hybrid. If you need us to be online, need us to be digital, that’s fine … We can make anything work.”

Even with the changes, Metzger expressed gratitude for the Huntington community and confidence in its strength.

“The economy in Huntington county is strong – it’s different, there are weaknesses and there is fragility – but the economy is strong, and we have a very generous community, and we are very thankful for that.”

Metzger said the United Way has not had a single campaign partner that has said they cannot participate in this year’s fund-raising efforts.

It is the goal of the United Way, Metzger said, “day in and day out, no matter what it looks like, to make sure we are achieving [the United Way mission and vision].”

The United Way vision “is that Huntington County be THE place to sink your roots and to work, live and play.”

And the mission “of the United Way of Huntington County is to unite the community through visionary leadership, assessment of needs, and the mobilization and dispersion of resources to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of Huntington County.”

Orion McCormack, donor development coordinator for the United Way, explained what the United Way does in Huntington County.

He noted that funds raised for the United Way “help fund different programs that serve the entire county – such as Blessings in a Backpack, The Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Pathfinder Services, VITA, Kids Kampus, Youth Services Bureau, Salvation Army, Visiting Nurse and many more.”

“We serve Huntington County,” McCormack added. “Throughout the year many businesses both big and small, as well as individuals, donate to our organization.

“Our Sunday Visitor, the Huntington County Community School Corporation, Pathfinder Services, Gerdau, Bendix, Kline’s CPA Group, CSP and our many individual and small business donators make all this possible.”

“Huntington County is our customer.”

He went on to explain the relationship between businesses who donate and the United Way.

“You highlight us during the campaign, so we want to highlight you.”

He said ways the United Way can highlight these businesses is by sharing their social media posts, and promoting job fairs.

During 2020 Huntington County experienced not only the COVID-19 pandemic, but also a water crisis in Andrews.

McCormack says that throughout those crises businesses, employees and Huntington County residents turned to the United Way for assistance and resources.

Metzger spoke further about the impact the United Way has in Huntington County, highlighting the almost 16,000 weekend meals that were sent home with food insecure students by Blessings in a Backpack, as well as 40,000 of mentoring provided to Huntington County students by various organizations supported by the United Way in 2019.

He said that when the COVID-19 pandemic began, United Way partnered with the Huntington County Community Foundation to establish a relief fund, which helped many area organizations maintain their operations and also shift what they were doing.

“The Boys & Girls Club started taking prepared meals to students and their families … really shifting the way they were doing things to make sure people did not go without services,” Metzger explained.

He also detailed how during the water crisis in Andrews the United Way helped to provide, with JJ’s in Huntington, a place for Andrews residents to wash their laundry free of charge during the time that those residents were unable to use the water in their homes to do so.

This year, Metzger says, the United Way will have a dollars matched program from their state association that will help water bottle filling stations to be installed in every school in the county.

The school corporation currently is unable to run their water fountains due to the pandemic, so Metzger says he is very excited to be able to offer this option to those in our school system.

Additionally, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library – a book gifting program – will be instated in Huntington with this year’s fund-raising dollars. This program will give every child from birth to 5 years of age to receive books, free of charge, through the mail.

McCormack recognized the 2019 campaign award winners:

• Star performer, Pathfinder Services and Kline’s CPA Group.

• Campaign Chair, Heather Bowman, Amanda Falk and the OSV team.

• Bob Smith Campaign Award, Brooks Fetters.

• Ray Vanderspool Volunteer of the Year, Darlene, Brent and Nick Stanley and Megan Reckelhoff, owners of JJ’s.

In 2020 a new award will be added, the Innovation Award. McCormack said the award will go to a business that creates innovative ideas to encourage fund-raising at their business during the 2020 campaign season.

The United Way held an All in Huntington Virtual Run/Walk Sept. 16 to 20, and upcoming will host a Drive Thru Trunk or Treat at the Huntington County Fairgrounds on Oct. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Event information can be found at the United Way of Huntington County’s Facebook page.

The 2020 campaign video can be viewed at the United Way of Huntington County’s Facebook or YouTube page.