United Way of Portage County kicks off 2017 campaign

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United Way of Portage County kicked off its 2017 campaign Friday, Aug. 11, at P.J. Jacobs Junior High School by introducing the 2017 campaign drive chair family, unveiling the 2017 campaign video, and giving people a first-hand look at United Way’s Project Fresh Start and Learn for Life.

The Blenker family, owners and operators of Blenker Companies in Amherst, are chairing the 2017 campaign. “As Drive Chairs, they are leading by example in showing that United Way is building a better community for each and every one of us,” said Jon Gadbois, United Way of Portage County Board President, in introducing the Blenkers.

“As the 2017 Drive Chairs, we want the entire community to know that when you support United Way, you change lives and you make your community stronger,” said Jason Blenker in representing the family. “Every 15 minutes someone is helped by a United Way funded program or initiative.”

After their introduction, Nicole Tank, a Prevention Supervisor and Family Support worker with Family Outreach and Support Services – one of 31 United Way funded programs – unveiled the 2017 campaign video, which features how her program and other United Way programs have helped this local family. “United Way’s support allows my program and many other programs that I engage with to work collaboratively in support of our clients,” said Tank. “When people see what their donations do and the lives they change, I have no doubt that it will touch their hearts. I know it did for me.”

The video is available online at https://youtu.be/1pVSuUVAWVo.

The Blenker family also accepted results from early pacesetter campaigns held at Old National Bank, the United Way Endowment, and Delta Dental of Wisconsin. Old National Bank had 100-percent participation and raised $2,548. For the first time ever, yearly Endowment earnings, which have traditionally been kept separate from the annual campaign, will go back into ongoing United Way funding. Through legacy gifts, these funds amounted to $14,296. Delta Dental, which has been a pacesetter company for many years, raised $309,851 in employee and corporate gifts, and had 97.3 percent employee participation.

With these campaigns and money from other donations, United Way is currently at 12.7 percent of the overall 2017 community goal of $2.875 million.

The kickoff also included a behind-the-scenes look at Project Fresh Start, United Way’s school supply drive serving 1,100 area youth each year. Project Fresh Start will be held at P.J. Jacobs on Saturday, Aug. 12, and the facility was set up to show the amount of school supplies that will be distributed to local students.

The United Way of Portage County 2017 Campaign will take place throughout Portage County at approximately 200 worksites, via direct mail, and through other individual and organizational giving. Donors of $52 or more to the 2017 United Way campaign will receive a GIVE & GET UNITED Coupon Book AND eligible donors of $52 or more will also be automatically entered into the TRAVEL UNITED Sweepstakes for a chance to win a 2018 Ford F-150 XL Super Cab 4x4 valued at $38,000 donated by Scaffidi Motors or a number of other great prizes.

For more information about the campaign, call 715-341-6740, email uway@unitedwaypoco.org, or visit www.unitedwaypoco.org.