Butler County United Way spreads message through service events
Published August 31, 2016
Journal-News, Butler County
By Wayne Baker, Staff Writer
The Butler County United Way decided to launch its annual campaign season with twist. Gone for now are the days of big political speeches and pancake breakfasts. Now, the organization is hoping that “Building Blocks” will be a successful way to garner support.
The United Way set a goal of $1.9 million for 2014 and then upped that mark to $2 million for 2015. This year’s goal is $1.8 million, according to Pam Cottell of the United Way.
In late August, the United Way eschewed the normal big launch breakfast and instead offered three “Building Block” events that helped put the group’s message of serving the community.
The first event was held at Ryan’s Tavern and was called “Books and Brew,” and was designed to provide literacy kits to preschool children. More than 100 kits were assembled during the event and will be distributed to Hamilton children. The kits included Eric Carle’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
“The literacy kit is about bringing the book to life and engaging children in the learning process at a young age,” Cottell said.
A simultaneous income-based needs block event was held at West Chester Hospital and the Fairfield Food Pantry, as 400 care packages for adults and infants were created, according to Cottell.
She said the packages included toiletries and other everyday items that are part of a healthy lifestyle. The packages will be delivered to the Tri-County Assembly Church’s TCA Choice Pantry and the Family Promise Butler County.
“The TCA Choice Food Pantry is a ministry dedicated to meeting the needs of people in Butler County,” Cottell said. “Family Promise Butler County is a collaborative solution to the rising homelessness and financial challenges families are facing in Butler County.”
One of the newest companies in the county, Barclaycards, decided to hold a private company event to support “Building Blocks,” as 30 employees volunteered their time to create 200 basic care packages that will be delivered to TCA Choice and Family Promise as well.
Mag Baker, president and CEO of the United Way, feels that the the organization’s “Building Blocks,” will be a better way to reach out to the community, and enhance the message of a healthy lifestyle and teamwork in order to help people in Butler County. She said it is also a better way to draw people into the mission, than one huge event featuring several speeches.
“Our normal way of kicking off our campaign season is to hold a breakfast where we invite the public to hear our message,” Baker said. “While it is important to meet with community leaders and others who share our vision, we felt like this ‘Building Blocks’ approach held a much larger impact.”
Krystal Tipton, director of Community Impact for the United Way, said it is time to try something like “Building Blocks” in order to combat poverty numbers in Butler County.
“We concentrate on the areas of education, health, and income stability to help people in Butler County live better lives. Focusing on these areas through our ‘Building Block’ events not only gets some help to those in need, but it is also a way for the community to get involved and come together for the common good,” Tipton said. “With the poverty level nearing 15 percent in Butler County, anything that we can do to redirect the trend is a positive thing.”
Getting companies like Barclaycard to help is something that will allow “Building Blocks” to succeed, according to Linda Yarger who manages resource development for the United Way.
“It is becoming more and more popular for companies to require their employees to perform volunteer work,” she said. “Butler County United Way can be a partner to these companies by providing volunteer opportunities. While donations are always important, volunteering and advocating also can be a fulfilling and meaningful way to affect change.”