United Way of Bay County kicks off 2021-22 campaign with a revealing event

When Magen Samyn welcomed a group of friends and community leaders to the Dry Dock Beer Garden earlier this week, she jokingly explained that friendship with her and Matthew Felan isn’t cheap.

“It does not come without strings and it does not come without us asking for your time, talent, and treasure,” laughed Samyn as she greeted the crowd gathered on Sept. 20 for an event billed as “Magen + Matt’s BIG Reveal.”

What was revealed was the pair agreed to chair the United Way of Bay County’s 2021-22 campaign. The Dry Dock event was the kick-off for the annual campaign, which aims to raise $750,000 to distribute to 26 critical impact partners in the community.

Nicole Luczak, who took on the role of United Way of Bay County Executive Director on July 1, thanked everyone who attended for supporting the agency and its annual campaign. Read more about Luczak in this July 15 Route Bay City article.

“Magen and Matt are two of the strongest leaders in our community and long time advocates for the  United Way,” Luczak said. “We are lucky to have  them leading this campaign during one of the most challenging years our community has faced. They  understand the collective impact model of United Way and how it is the most efficient and effective way  to address the most critical needs in our community.”

The first ask of the campaign was to each of the people gathered for the Sept. 20 announcement.

“We’re here to invite you, to ask you, to join us,” said Felan, who serves as President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance.

Samyn and Felan said they each committed to give $1,000 to the 2021-22 campaign. They asked everyone in attendance to do the same.

“We’re going to do it and step up and do our part,” Felan said. “We would love for you guys to join us. We, point blank, need this community to step up.”

Magen Samyn, United Way of Bay County 2021-22 Campaign Co-ChairEventually, the campaign will reach every corner of Bay County. But Samyn said she and Felan targeted specific people to invite to the kick-off.  

“I want you guys to look around real quick,” Felan said during the reveal. “It was a very specifically targeted demographic that we went after tonight. If you look around, you do not see people who are 18, you do not see people who are 80.”

Felan and Samyn said they believe it’s time for a new generation of leaders to take over. Felan added that he encourages leadership in every form, whether it’s contributing financially to a cause, joining a non-profit board, or running for elected office.

Samyn added she is targeting new donors for this year's United Way campaign.

United Way of Bay County Executive Director Nicole Luczak“What we’ve realized is the existing donor base has done a really great job,” said Samyn, who is Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for McLaren Bay Region.

“We know that sometimes people they feel they need an invitation. This is your invitation to the join the United Way.”

The campaign will need the help of the entire community if it’s to succeed. 

Samyn added that many people don’t know the United Way touches one in every three people in the community. It has a focus on the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population. The ALICE population includes people who are working, but not earning enough to meet their basic needs. Unexpected emergencies – such as lay-offs due to COVID-19 closures – easily devastate family finances.

Luczak said she feels especially drawn to help people in the ALICE population as she she once was a single mother who met the income guidelines. She wants to help others find a way to feel economically secure.

“It really truly is a passion of mine to be involved in the community,” Luczak said.

Matthew Felan, United Way of Bay County 2021-22 Campaign Co-Chair“We’re really trying to get to the root cause of issues with people and why they’re in need and build them into self-sufficiency so that they can find a way out of that place that they’re in instead of going backward in poverty,” Luczak said.

It all starts with leadership, Felan said.

“Our goal is to find 100 couples, people, that are our age to start doing this,” Felan said. “Just know that we appreciate whatever support you can give.”

You can make an investment in your community by visiting www.unitedwaybaycounty.org/give, through  a workplace campaign if your employer participates, or by calling (989) 893-7508 for more information