William Cook: Chair 2016-17, United Way of Greater Stark County Board of Directors

I am proud to re-introduce to you an organization that has been involved in our community well over 75 years. Its people and mission have evolved to be community leaders in addressing and removing obstacles in order to help local men, women and children achieve their full potential – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, economic position or location. We utilize the various talents of volunteers and staff to develop, operate and fund programs that make a difference in people’s daily lives. This vital organization is your United Way!

As a member of the United Way Board of Directors, I assure you that every activity and resource is used in the most effective, efficient way to maximize the benefit to our community. Did you know that for a $1 investment with United Way, $1.61 is generated in services and funds returned to our fellow residents? This is achieved through the work of fabulous volunteers that give generously of their time and talent to ensure that every dollar invested returns value to those served.

I ask that you spend a few moments to read how YOUR United Way is bringing positive change to our community, and how – with your help – we can move closer to achieving our BOLD GOALS in Education, Income and Health.

You may have seen or heard United Way’s new spokeskid Priah telling you, “Together – We Make Awesome Things Happen!” That’s because United Way knows that a thriving community takes a lot of work, and we can’t do this work without the contributions of many caring people. We improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities…bringing together donors, volunteers, businesses, government entities and other organizations – to work as a team.

In 2014, United Way of Greater Stark County’s Board of Directors approved a strategic plan based upon a new approach known as Community Impact. The process was driven by an evaluation of how the organizational structure and allocation practices have carried out our overall mission and impacted the community. During this process of analysis and renewed focus, the United Way Community Impact volunteers worked on identifying community needs, and how United Way can more effectively address those needs.

The impact councils spent nearly 18 months working with a consultant and issue experts to examine areas of need in 3 categories: EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH. Statistics and data were gathered, other United Way models were studied and current community resources were inventoried and discussed. This process identified specific opportunities for improvement in our communities and a renewed commitment to strategic investments with long-term results. We call these our BOLD GOALS for Bold Change.

Let’s start with the BOLD GOAL of EDUCATION. United Way envisions a community that supports and enables all students to reach age-appropriate academic and developmental milestones that lead to graduation and careers. We’re laying the foundation for young people to succeed in life. Through United Way’s funded programs and community collaborations, children and youth will be given the best possible start to develop to their fullest potential.

To support the BOLD GOALS in INCOME, United Way partners with numerous organizations and agencies to help families become self-sufficient and strong.  Financial self-sufficiency is vital to a successful family life, and United Way funded programs work to remove barriers and build skills necessary to attain and maintain employment. This creates a cycle for financial success, and improves the stability of the entire community. United Way’s Income initiative funding is a sustainable investment in prosperity for everyone in Stark County.

The BOLD GOAL in HEALTH supports programs that provide families and individuals with food, shelter and clothing during crisis situations. United Way collaborates with numerous community organizations that help expand access to care for all ages. By promoting healthy behaviors and increasing the availability of preventative care, we create a solid foundation for strong, stable families.
United Way of Greater Stark County finds solutions that create positive change, so our community grows stronger. We couldn’t do this important work without our dedicated team of volunteers. I am honored to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors – 28 people of various backgrounds, all committed to a better future for Greater Stark County. These knowledgeable community leaders give generously of their time, establishing policies and allocating resources to assure that the organization is properly managed. As an active and responsible governing body, the Board of Directors ensures effective governance over the policies and financial resources of the organization.

We also rely upon hundreds of committed individuals who reflect the diversity of the people we serve – contributing their expertise to United Way committees, and participating in numerous year-round events that take place throughout the community.

We can never express enough gratitude for the generous residents of Stark County who donate financially to our annual campaign. In fact, your involvement is our most powerful resource! Because you contribute to our efforts, you are a part of our team. By giving to United Way of Greater Stark County, you are assured that your contribution will be leveraged responsibly to make the most impact toward improving the quality of life in our community, with measurable GOALS. With your help, we can create a better future for Greater Stark County.

United Way of Greater Stark County believes that helping one person is like helping everyone. We envision a community that supports and empowers all men, women and children to prosper and succeed. Our staff and volunteers strive toward BOLD GOALS in EDUCATION, INCOME and HEALTH – to build a better future for everyone in our community. This takes a lot of work, and we can’t accomplish this without you on our team. This spirit of teamwork and collaboration helps the people who need it the most, and bring about positive change. Together – we CAN make awesome things happen in Stark County!

William Cook is Senior Vice President, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and chair of the United Way of Greater Stark County Board of Directors. For more information about United Way’s BOLD GOALS and strategic vision, visit uwstark.org.