United Way celebrates partners, investors, volunteers with fun twist

Supporters of Char-Em United Way gathered June 8 to celebrate the success of its recent campaign, thank those involved, announce community investments to partner agencies, and present the annual John Newton Award of community excellence.
The Celebration Breakfast took a twist this year.
United Way CEO,  Lorraine Manary welcomed guests and invited them to suspend reality for a while as they played the role of studio audience for a “Good Morning Northern Michigan” news styled report.

Board members reported on community investments, United Way Projects, and upcoming events in news anchor roles.
Kendall Stanley served as the main news anchor, Jeff Neill and Jan Fowler were co-anchors and board president, Joel Schraw provided cheery weather reports.
Community partner agencies participated by providing news special segments and commercial breaks.
“The results of this are that over $194,000 will be used to support effective health and human service programming, United Way Initiatives, and designated gifts” said Joel Schraw, board vice president.
Joel Schraw forecasted a sunny summer as children received a quality daycare experience at the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan Child development center, families received emergency services for housing at the Salvation Army and a refreshing evening as Manna Food Project volunteers tucked in fresh produce for the night.
Mandy Martin from Habitat for Humanity provided a commercial break giving details on their summer builds.
Kim Baker, Executive Director of the Manna Food Project did an outstanding job of demonstrating how to create a delicious crock pot meal in the food segment of the show.
The audience was able to sample his root vegetable dish and all pronounced it delicious.
Big Brothers Big Sisters local case manager Christie Ward-Strahan shared how their program weaves literacy into mentor matches based on Char-Em United Way’s focus on literacy during a commercial break. The next segment had exiting board member Anora O’Connor, manager at Castle Farms, and her young son Seamus, sharing a book he enjoys and received through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program.
Christian Smith, Director of the YMCA did an outstanding job during a commercial break.
His commercial centered around affordable child care through the YMCA’s H.O.S.T. (Healthy Out of School Time) program.
And clients and staff from the Bergmann Center did a great job showcasing how talented, dedicated, loyal and committed individuals with disabilities can be fantastic employees to employers who give them a chance to work.
An ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) family was introduced in the “make-over” segment.
The family was played by Justin Bluer and Amy Evans, both employees of the Salvation Army, and Justin’s young son.
In our local counties ALICE makes up 38% of households.
They earn as much as $56,000 a year for a family of 4, but pay up to 24% of their income on childcare costs and often have housing costs that range from 35 -50% of their income.
The family’s makeover came in the form of local support for preschool, food, and a higher paying job, which together put the family on the road to financial stability.
Char-Em United Way has adopted a two prong strategy for supporting ALICE. Donor dollars, thanks to you, our community donors and philanthropists, are invested heavily in young children & supporting ALICE.
Research shows that if kids enter kindergarten ready to learn and can read at grade level in third grade, they are more likely to graduate high school and earn a living wage.
Helping ALICE remain secure in housing, and manage life’s crises helps us all.
Kids in preschool & daycare, solving transportation and other emergencies as they come up, means employees are focused on work.
Greater productivity turns into higher wages, and has positive impact on local economic development; the most important part of economic development, people. Char-Em United Way is uniting the people and resources of Charlevoix and Emmet Counties to build strong communities.
Joel Schraw shared a final weather update, noting a blast of sunshine in the form of our Newton Award of Excellence honoree, Lisa Blanchard.
The John Newton Award of Excellence was created in 2002 to commemorate John’s life and the gifts he gave to our community.
This year  Lisa Blanchard was chosen as honoree for her efforts in many areas of our community.
She has served on the Petoskey Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, and the WRC board.
She was County Commissioner,  has run reading groups for elementary kids for many years, and she is on the Leadership Little Traverse Advisory Committee coordinating the Government Day.
She is also active in her Church.
Attendees of the breakfast shared their appreciation for an enlightening yet entertaining breakfast presentation.
The event ended with Lorraine Manary thanking the board members who are leaving the board, Jim Rudolph, Anora O’Connor and Charie Metevia, for their service.
For more information about Char-Em United Way call the office at 231-487-1006, or email info@charemunitedway.org, visit www.charemunitedway.org or our Facebook page.
Photo Caption: Representatives of Char-Em United Way’s Funded Partners 2017-2018 – Investing in our future!