2021 Campaign Kickoff & Commencement of 100-Year Anniversary Celebration

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United Way of Lake County’s September 23 “Unite at the Drive-in” Campaign Kickoff & Commencement of 100-Year Anniversary Featuring The Wizard of Oz Attracts Over 750 People

Notable Community Advocates, Volunteers and Past Employees Commemorate and Congratulate UWLC

Mentor, OH (September 24, 2021) – United Way of Lake County (UWLC) kicked off their 2021-2022 Campaign and the Commencement of their 100-Year anniversary celebration, September 23, 2021 from 7 pm –10 pm with a free “Unite at the Drive-in” community event at the Mayfield Rd. Drive in Theatre in Chardon.

The event was open to the public with advance registration, and over 750 people were in attendance. Goody bags were handed out to each car upon arrival, and volunteers walked among the crowd handing out frisbees and glow sticks to children in attendance.

The Wizard of Oz movie was the feature presentation at the drive-in, and guests received a free bucket of popcorn along with free ice cream from King Kone ice cream truck. Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a virtual 50/50 raffle online or via text. Prior to the start of the movie, a fireworks display took place, and a firetruck, courtesy of the Munson Township Fire Department, was on-hand pre-show for children to explore.

A UWLC video presentation featuring current campaign chair Ben Capelle, CEO of Laketran and UWLC president and CEO Jennifer McCarty kicked off the evening, showcasing a bit of the organization’s history over the past 100 years, the 2020 impact the organization made and more.

The opening of the video captures Capelle and McCarty sitting inside a Laketran Bus with Capelle expressing his enthusiasm for serving the community. “I am excited to take this ride with United Way. One of the really interesting things about United Way is that every year (they) start with a zero balance. (They) don’t carry money over, (they) don’t have money from other sources. Everything United Way does is from your generous gifts,” said Capelle.

McCarty also spoke about the organization’s history of helping the community during this past century, revealing that during the last 10 years alone, over one million services have been provided to those in need in partnership with the nearly 50 nonprofits UWLC has helped support.

The video also highlighted the most recent impact UWLC has made. In 2020, 92,024 services were provided in partnership with the health and human service agencies UWLC helps support, many of which are listed below.

  • 270,000 meals were provided to Lake County’s hungry
  • 41,024 congregate, drive-up and delivery meals were provided to seniors
  • 502 cans of formula were provided to babies in need
  • 7,394 emergency services were provided
  • 8,200 children benefited from mentors and youth enrichment programs
  • 276 domestic violence survivors benefited from refuge and care
  • 532 people received substance abuse treatment
  • 550 homeless persons received shelter and care
  • 7,183 medical visits were funded
  • 831 people benefited from prescription assistance
  • 2,573 people received mental health counseling services
  • 181 hospice patients and their families received comfort and care
  • 20,963 children benefited from reading and education programs

UWLC’s video also showcased the impact made from contributions to their COVID-19 Lake County Relief Fund. Donations from this helped provide for the delivery of nearly 2,500 bags of groceries to homebound seniors, helped re-stock the shelves of 40 Lake County food pantries to meet increased need, helped provide additional funds to Project Hope for the Homeless to meet their need for extended hours, helped fund additional free prescriptions for those who lost jobs and health insurance, provided funds to The Salvation Army of Painesville to meet an increased demand for meals and to help provide free school supplies to 1,500 children in need, helped fund the Lake County YMCA licensed pandemic childcare centers for essential workers, and helped provide additional funds to the Lake County Free Clinic to meet an increased demand from those who lost jobs and health insurance.

An awards presentation was also featured during the video where five advocates and volunteers were recognized for their service and dedication.

  • 2020 Board Chair Scot Park, Principle and Founder, Artower Advisory Services
  • Gus Gehring award winner Maria Kula, Sr. Manager, Field Communications, STERIS Corporation
  • Matt Logies award winner Bryan Thomas, Financial Adviser, Lighthouse Advisers
  • Woman of the Year award winner Patty Perry, President of ProMark Enterprises
  • Emerging Leader of the Year award winner Kerry Jonke, Communications Specialist, Laketran

In commemoration of the commencement of UWLC’s 100-year anniversary, eleven past employees, advocates, and volunteers shared video memories of their time with the organization. One such participant included former UWLC President and CEO Deborah Foley. “United Way steps up. We ignite. We ignite this community to what we can be. We ask people to join in, together. And then – we respond. And that is the United Way,” said Foley.

According to recently retired 30-year UWLC employee Gayle Sikula, “One of my fondest memories is when we hosted our very first food drive which has now become known as Feed Lake County. We collected 2,000 pounds of food and stored it in a back room.”

Today, the organization collects several hundred thousand pounds of food annually, which it distributes to local food banks. “Food insecurity fluctuates over the years but if there is just one person hungry, it’s enough motivation needed to rally the community to help fight hunger,” said Sikula.

“United Way of Lake County started in the nineteen twenties and so did Lubrizol,” said Elizabeth Grove, President of The Lubrizol Foundation and Chief Sustainability Officer of The Lubrizol Corporation. According to Grove, “Lubrizol has been a long-time sponsor of United Way of Lake County largely because of the impact that United Way has had on the community.”

Other memories shared on video included those from 1995 UWLC campaign chair,1999 board chair, and board member emeritus Thomas Hill, Chairman and CEO of Lighthouse Advisers; 2000 UWLC campaign chair and 2004 board chair Tom Benda, retired, The Lubrizol Corporation; current UWLC board member and WINT Integrity Radio host Ellen Foley Kessler; 2003 UWLC campaign chair and 2007 board chair Dr. Morris W. Beverage Jr., President of Lakeland Community College; 1998 UWLC board chair Carol-Ann Schindel, Finance Director, City of Eastlake; 2009 UWLC campaign chairs Edward and Nancy Brown, Founders and Owners, Ladies & Gentlemen Salon & Spa and The Brown Aveda Institute; former employee Martha Beck; and 1999 UWLC campaign chair Nancy Guthrie, Sr. Relationship Manager, KeyBank.

The video program ends with a variety of community notables wishing UWLC a happy 100-year anniversary and thanking them for their service. A high point within this includes Joe Thomas, former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman and current NFL Network Analyst, who closes out the video with his well wishes.

“Thank you for all the huge impact that you guys make helping children and families in need. I really believe truly to my core in giving back and giving local,” said Thomas, while encouraging guests to make a gift at uwlc.com/give.

State Representative Dan Troy weighed in saying, “I’ve had the honor of working with (UWLC) on so many activities and I want them to know that we are just proud of the work they’ve done over the last one hundred years.”

Other noteworthy supporters who made a video appearance to share their well wishes and gratitude for UWLC’s work impacting lives in Lake County over the last one hundred years include Lake County Commissioner John Plecnik; Judge Paul R. Malchesky of the Painesville Municipal Court; Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morley; The City of Willoughby; Christine Weber, President and CEO of the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce; Karen Tercek, President and CEO of the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce; Katie Jenkins, Executive Director of NAMI Lake County; and Dick Bennet, CEO of the Lake County YMCA.

“Our work isn’t done in a vacuum, and I am grateful for our many supporters. Because of them, we help people live better lives,” said McCarty.

University Hospitals, The Lubrizol Corporation, and Just in Time Staffing sponsored the event.

Those who would like to make a gift to impact the lives of Lake County children and families in need may do so online at uwlc.org/give, by texting uwlc100 to 44321, or by mailing a check payable to United Way of Lake County to them at 9285 Progress Parkway, Mentor, OH 44060.