United Way campaign encourages giving back to community

The United Way of Midland County is calling on residents across the community to come together, donate time, dollars, and resources to help a fellow neighbor out. The annual campaign aims to raise $4.7 million to help provide vital support for people and organizations. The organization's mission is to improve lives and ensure all people are thriving and living their full potential. 

Cathleen Louisignau, director of engagement at United Way of Midland County oversees marketing and engagement teams, and handles press and social media for the campaign. Louisignau says the organization started in 1920, and has funded partner agencies for programming within the community every year. 

City of Midland vs. Midland County kickball game
The collaborative effort kicked off on Sept. 11 and runs through the end of the year. The organization is working with 26 partnering agencies to raise $4.7 million to be used for life-changing resources and 60 programs across the community. Individuals and organizations are invited to donate their dollars, and time. 

“These programs are so vital for our neighbors,” Louisignau says. “One of the things I think about often is how any of us could potentially need these resources at any time of our life. None of the issues that people face and the programs that we fund do not discriminate. Any of us could receive that cancer diagnosis, any of us could be in a situation where we can’t find reliable, safe childcare. Any of us could be in a situation at some point where we don’t have a safe place to live. Without these resources and programs, so many of our neighbors would not find the help that they need.”
Tom's Travelin' Truck @the East End with representatives from several youth access partners.
A majority of the agencies elect workplace campaigns, where they engage and encourage employees to donate their time and talents. There are many options and ways to get involved, including digital campaigns, corporate gifts, and volunteerism and advocacy as well. Partner agencies find creative ways to support the campaign, including a casual day/week, bake sales, chili cookoffs, trivia events, and themed potlucks. 

All of the funded health and human service-related programs fall into three pillars: youth success, household stability, and health. Although the campaign is not even a full month in, Louisignau says Midland residents have already shown a great amount of support.
Dr. Lydia Watson is the President/CEO of MyMichigan Health.
“This year’s campaign chair is Dr. Lydia Watson from MyMichigan Health. We’re so grateful for her commitment and dedication, not only as a healthcare provider, but for leading our campaign this year. We’re really grateful for her support,” Louisignau says. “As of the end of last week, we were at 48% of that goal, so $2,256,336.”

In addition to the financial campaign, United Way of Midland also offers community-wide days of action encouraging volunteerism. Louisignau says last week’s event impacted five nonprofits, and brought out nearly 100 individual volunteers. 

Later this month, an advocacy option, the 10-day Equity Challenge will be offered online, starting OCt. 16.The challenge aims to raise awareness, increase understanding and shift perspectives about the financial, social and accessibility inequities faced by different demographics. 

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Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at sarahspohn.news@gmail.com.