United Way looks to get students involved

” It takes a village to raise a child is a commonly-heard phrase. It should also be the initiative of a village or community to help others in need- children and adults. Members and supporters of United Way of Summit County live by this belief. United Way of Summit County was established over ninety years ago in 1918.”

It takes a village to raise a child is a commonly-heard phrase.

It should also be the initiative of a village or community to help others in need- children and adults.
Members and supporters of United Way of Summit County live by this belief.

United Way of Summit County was established over ninety years ago in 1918. Then known as the Better Akron Foundation, it was the city’s first united solicitation.

William Delbert Shilts, a civic activist from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, led the formation of it.

The organization went through a few slight name changes until 1975, when it merged with another organization and was officially renamed United Way of Summit County.

It is now an international movement. However, each organization is an independent non-profit organization led by a small staff and a large group of volunteers. This includes the Summit County organization.

One of their promises is that money donated to United Way of Summit County stays within Summit County. Donors can be assured that their generosity will help their own community.

The mission statement of the United Way is to improve lives by mobilizing community assets for health and human services.

Their main focus is on three major areas: education, income and health.

United Way of Summit County is constantly helping the children of our community achieve their potential through education.

The organization is also helping families and individuals become financially stable and is improving people’s health.

Funds from United Way support 122 programs, which are provided by 48 local affiliated health and human service agencies in Summit County.

Although the majority of their funding goes to these programs, there is a small amount of money available for utility assistance to individuals.

Michael Gaffney, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way, noted that many young adults have the desire to change their communities.

While nearly everyone wants to change the world, very few people actually have the knowledge or resources to pull it off, he explained.

He added that United Way offers them access to community resources and opportunities that will connect those who wish to create change with those who know how.

Gaffney was hired 10 years ago as the lead communications professional at United Way. He said that his favorite part of the job is the variety.

Every day is something new- writing, media relations, event planning, budgeting and so much more.

There’s no such thing as a typical day in my work life, he said.

Gaffney noted the dedication of the volunteers.

Each year, United Way relies on teams of volunteers from our community to determine how to distribute the donations to United Way among local programs and services.

Most of the money donated to United Way comes from workplace campaigns, but individuals can donate through their Web site, which is www.uwsummit.org, by clicking on the donate button.

United Way’s offices are located at 90 North Prospect Street. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

There will soon be a Student United Way at the University of Akron and an office specifically for that chapter on campus in the near future.

The student-led community change organizations focus on college and university campuses.

Student leaders advance the common good, develop leadership skills and join the growing United Way movement by giving, advocating and volunteering on campus and in the community, he explained.

Brian Duchon, a University of Akron graduate and an employee of United Way of Summit County, can be reached for questions about the upcoming student chapter.

He can be contacted at bduchon@uwsummit.org.

By becoming engaged with Student United Way and looking for ways to live united, these students will seek to discover the ways to make our community a better place to go to school, to live in, to work in and to raise a family, Gaffney said.