United Way of Portage County Campaign Kicks Off At The NEW Center

The United Way of Portage County kicked off its workplace giving program Wednesday evening with an expo featuring many of the organizations it supports, but the annual workplace campaign already is off to a quick start.

Bill Childers, Portage County United Way’s president and chief executive officer, said this year’s Pacesetter businesses surpassed last year’s giving pace as of Oct. 3.

“Last year at this event, we announced $181,000 had been raised,” said Childers at the Wednesday event, which took place at the NEOMED Education and Wellness (NEW) Center. This year, that amount is more than $250,000.

The Pacesetter companies ran their campaigns early, explained Shawna Borkoski, director of development and marketing for United Way.

“We have 14 companies that already ran their campaigns,” she said.

Last year’s total fundraising campaign was a success, raising $906,000, added Childers.

“We exceeded our funding goal for the first time in 10 years,” he said. “This year’s goal is $943,000.”

Childers thanked the members of last year’s campaign committee, which was chaired by former Record-Courier Publisher David Dix with help from honorary co-chairs Allen Aircraft CEO Neil Mann Jr. and Portage Community Bank CEO Rick Coe.

During the event, which featured 18 local organizations that receive its support, United Way presented a check for $1,000 to Handsonsports.com, a nonprofit run by former Cleveland Force and Cleveland Crunch Goalie Otto Orf.

Although Orf himself is in Argentina coaching, his wife, Marty Kurtz-Orf, attended as a representative of the organization.

“Most of the benefits are for younger children,” she said, adding the money will support new futsal courts being built in Akron parks.

Futsal is a sport closely related to soccer, except it’s played on a hard court with no walls and a slightly heavier ball.

“You don’t need any money to play futsal; you need a ball,” said Kurtz-Orf, adding the Akron courts would be outside.

Handsonsports.com was not the only organization to receive funds at the United Way kickoff.

Student Outreach to Area Residents, an organization of NEOMED students aiming to provide clinics for uninsured and underinsured individuals in Portage County, received $7,500.

“Last year, all our lab work was completely paid for by the United Way and one other grant,” said SOAR Clinic Executive Officer Haley Coleman. “With the money, we will be able to increase the types of service we can do.”

Currently, the clinic is open two Saturdays a month, according to Maria LaMontagne, community clinic officer, but that’s about to change. Beginning in January, she said SOAR plans to add a third Saturday clinic per month.

“A large part of the money from United Way will be used for our labs,” she said, adding that may be SOAR’s biggest expense.

 

Read the original Record-Courier article here.