United Way Honors Supporters at Annual Campaign Celebration

United Way of 1000 Lakes Campaign Celebration and Best of Awards was held on Thursday, March 12, at the Timberlake Lodge Hotel. United Way staff and board of directors warmly welcomed guests during the complimentary reception with music by Sugar on the Roof.

Sugar on the Roof

The evening’s program, “Looking Back, Forging Ahead,” included reflections on past successes and visions for the future of United Way’s work in the Itasca area. A highlight of the program was a keynote story series featuring community members impacted by United Way-funded programs. In conversation with Kari Hedlund, music director and on-air host at KAXE/KBXE Northern Community Radio, three individuals shared their stories of overcoming hardship and finding support and community. Lea Hanson discussed how Habitat for Humanity’s Home Preservation program made it possible for her to continue living independently in her own home, while Tristin Aho reflected on his time with the Deer River Boys & Girls Club, from finding support as a child to inspiring youth as a staff member. Mac McKinney finished the night with a discussion of how finding a place of belonging at Kiesler Wellness Center led to his becoming a leader in mental health and addiction recovery.

Mac Mckinney shares his story

Volunteers were also recognized during the program. Volunteer Award recipients included Nancy Baker, a dedicated Grace House volunteer, Dr. Philip Imholte and Karen Karls for their work with Project Care, and Sherry Burcar-Flint, an ElderCircle Master Trainer, for the Bone Builders fitness program. United Way volunteer programs such as Day of Action (happening on or around June 21) continue to make a difference in the lives of thousands in our community. Habitat for Humanity was honored with the 2019 Day of Action community partner award for last year’s collaboration, which saw over 100 volunteers cleaning up yards and parks and helping out with home repairs in the Oakland Addition neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

Best of Awards were presented to Target for Best Year-Round Partnership; ASV Holdings, Inc. for Best Campaign Innovation; First National Bank of Coleraine for Best Employee Engagement; and American Bank of the North for Best Trailblazer. Shelby Spence and Jennifer Raushel were recognized with Best Ambassador awards.

Special Recognition awards, created by local artist Corey Olson, were presented to the Blandin Foundation and Minnesota Power for their generosity and dedication to our community.

United Way also released a list of the Top 10 Most Generous Companies and Workplaces based on total contributions.

Top 10 Most Generous Companies

Boldt Company
American Bank of the North
Lake Country Power
Timberlake Lodge
Essentia Health
Paul Bunyan Communications
 Wells Fargo
Blandin Foundation
Minnesota Power

Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces

Essentia Health
Itasca County
Grand Itasca
Blandin Foundation
Woodland Bank
Minnesota Power

United Way executive director, Kim Brink Smith, announced that the community has generously raised a total of $270,462 to the 2019-2020 fundraising efforts. She credits their fundraising success to the generosity of community members and outstanding support from corporate, small business, and nonprofit partners.

 “The success of this year’s campaign will support the continuation of this important work, which includes a funding commitment through 2021 to more than 30 local programs and initiatives,” stated United Way Board President Amanda Kluge. “One of the strongest and most powerful components of our work is how we allocate resources. This committee is made up of community members who are dedicated to bettering the world around them. It is their voice and their decisions that create the allocations to the organizations that United Way funds.”

United Way hosts this event annually to celebrate the community members, businesses, partner agencies, and all who support its mission to fight for the education, health, safety, and financial stability of every person in the Itasca County area.

To learn more about United Way’s work in our community, visit uwlakes.org or call 218-999-7570.