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Celebrating volunteerism

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INDUSTRY: Representing Frito Lay, shift managers Kate Zink, center, and Alex Mata, right accept the Best Industry Campaign Team award from 2018 UWCC campaign chairwoman Karen Gregerson.
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ANNUAL MEETING: United Way for Clinton County board president Rick Stefaniak speaks at the organization's annual meeting on Tuesdayinside the Paul Phillippe Resource Center's Burgen Hall.
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VOLUNTEERISM: Tom Crawford, center, poses with his Volunteer of the Year award alongside UWCC board president Rick Stefaniak and executive director Carolina Booth.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

United Way for Clinton County celebrated everything it accomplished in 2018 and installed new officers for 2019 at its annual meeting on Tuesday inside the Paul Phillippe Resource's Burgen Hall.

Rick Stefaniak started the meeting by thanking sponsors Frito Lay and Indiana Kitchen – which provided lunch at the event – before recognizing the various groups in attendance, including the handful of elected officials.

“United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Clinton County,” Stefaniak said. “Our goal is to create lasting change in Clinton County by mobilizing sharing individuals and asking them to invest in the community. We advocate for the community's needs and bring people together to take action.”

Carolina Booth then came to the podium to share some of UWCC's highlights from 2018.

“Over 3,000 individuals received help related to health care services, financial stability, and access to food, shelter and their basic needs,” Booth said. “Sometimes (people) think of this as just handing out money but, in reality, we are providing people an opportunity for them to be successful – to have a chance to get financial stability and go after bigger and better things in their lives. This was done thanks to the Salvation Army, Food Finders Food Bank, and Open Door Health Clinic for working very hard and making sure our individuals' needs are met.”

Booth said that UWCC was also able to helps kinds who are getting ready for kindergarten.

“We provided developmental opportunities for them,” Booth said. “Thanks to the Learning Ladder (at the YMCA), our kids are getting higher quality services and higher quality education which is helping them be ready for when they hit the big day at school in kindergarten.”

For those kids who are already in school, UWCC was able to provide school supplies, and they continued the Clinton County Promise program.

“Every single kindergartner in the county is going to have a chance to open a 529 college savings account,” Booth said. “We are bringing hope to the kids in our community. We are planting the seed for them to dream big.”

UWCC took kindergartens on a trip to the campus of IU Kokomo last fall, and they have a similar trip planned for Purdue University on April 18.

“We were also able to help kids that were dealing with either sexual abuse situations or domestic violence,” Booth said. “Thank you Quinton's House for making sure our kids are feeling loved during a very difficult time.”

Booth thanked many of the UWCC's partnering organizations and also thanked the Paul Phillippe resource center for hosting the event.

“Thank you so much for making sure our seniors in our community are getting the kind of services they need in order to be successful,” she said.

Karen Gregerson, the 2018 campaign chairman for UWCC, reviewed the fundraising successes of last year, informing the audience that a total of $430,183.15 was raised in 2018 – including $41,000 of “new money” contributed by 157 new donors.

Several awards were handed out at the event. Frito Lay earned the Best Industry Campaign Team award by raising over $121,000 while The Farmers Bank was awarded Best Commercial Campaign Team for raising over $52,000, and Donaldson Co. was given the Award of Merit for raising over $36,000.

Lastly, Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Tom Crawford.

“I am very appreciative,” Crawford said. “The most important thing is that the time that we put into the United Way is time well spent. I wasn't really looking for this, but it is sure nice for them to make this beautiful award, and I am glad to support an organization like United Way that has made such a huge difference in our community for 40 or 50 years. I was involved 20 years ago, and they are still promoting and doing all that good work. You can't ask for more than that.”

In a brief meeting of the board of directors at the conclusion of the event, the 2019 board of directors was installed. The board for 2019 includes Stefaniak (board president), Gregerson (vice president), Dr. Layton Elliott (2nd vice president), David Hussey (3rd vice president), Chris Vawter (treasurer) and Steve Mast (secretary).