More than 300 community partners marked the formal kickoff of the annual United Way of Northern Arizona (UWNA) fundraising campaign today, living up to this year’s theme that “Great Things Happen When We LIVE UNITED.”
Led by 2015-2016 Campaign Chair and Coconino County Manager Cynthia Seelhammer and featuring keynote speaker Dr. Rita Cheng, president of Northern Arizona University, the kickoff celebration illustrated the United Ways focus on Education, Income and Health and how goals in those areas are obtained through the contributions raised in the annual campaign.
“The power of giving is amplified when you give to United Way because of the partnerships we have with local organizations that work hard each day to serve our community” said UWNA President and CEO Steve Peru. “They are committed to helping us advance the common good for all local citizens by creating lasting change in community conditions.”
A video featuring several of the programs that United Way helps to fund focused on several partners, including the Flagstaff Family Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Flagstaff Shelter Services and Hozhoni Foundation.
The campaign’s goal of reaching $1.575 million, which will fund the initiatives led both by the United Way and its partners, got a “jump start” with support from United Way Summit Society Members and Pacesetter businesses.
Contributors of $500 or more are considered Summit Society members. Amanda and Bryan Loveless are this year’s co-chairs of this prestigious and generous group of donors and have already hosted one event at Riordan Mansion to raise these funds, with two more to come. Currently, nearly 588 Summit Society members have contributed approximately $643,000 to this year’s campaign and pursued a goal of largely increasing the number of Summit Society members for even greater impact.
The six-week Pacesetters Campaign, under the direction of Jim Wine and Dinah Gillette, have already raised more than $207,000 towards this year’s goal. This year’s group of Pacesetter businesses are engaging their employees and leaders in creative ways to jumpstart this year’s campaign including: the Arizona Daily Sun, APS, Catholic Charities, Civic Service Institute at NAU, Coconino County, The Guidance Center, Holiday Inn Express, Housing Solutions
of Northern Arizona, Kinney Construction Services, Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University President’s Council, Sonesta ES Suites, Unisource Energy Services, United Way Northern Arizona Board of Directors and United Way Northern Arizona Staff.
Attendees at the luncheon today also gave food donations by bringing non-perishable items for the United Way “Weekend Backpack Initiative.” In this initiative, chronically hungry students at Kinsey Elementary School are sent home with a backpack of non-perishable food that can be prepared safely by students. The backpacks help provide the nutrition needed for children to arrive to school ready to participate and learn in class every Monday. Thanks to the efforts of the Backpack Program’s partners and through a community initiative grant through Coconino County Supervisor Liz Archuleta’s office, this food is provided completely free of charge.
The impact of this and other United Way initiatives, priorities and goals have amounted to great community success. Supporting this year’s campaign will continue to advance the common good in three main areas:
- Through EDUCATION, United Way aims to help every young person receive a quality education that leads to career success. Early years are especially important. United Way partnerships provide literacy coaching; parenting education; books for children from birth through age five and the KinderCamp summer transition program for high risk pre-kindergarteners.
- With focus on INCOME, United Way strives to help every family earn a livable wage that allows them to pay bills today and save for tomorrow. Last year United Way of Northern Arizona Volunteer Income Tax Assistance helped more than 2,600 households file free income tax returns, generating $3.6 million in total refunds and $1.4 million in earned income tax credits. In Coconino County alone the number of clients helped, increased 35%.
- United Way HEALTH initiatives are focused on helping every child and adult live a healthy and thriving life. Good nutrition, safe shelter, strategies to prevent diabetes and obesity, and treatment for physical and mental disabilities are essentials to good health in our community.
To be a part of this positive community movement visit www.nazunitedway.org to make your contribution today and join us as “Great Things Happen When We Live United.”