United Way off to strong start on 2018 campaign

ALPENA –If it wasn’t for the United Way of Northeast Michigan and its many generous donors, many local groups and organizations would be limited in the amount of support they provide to seniors, youth, the poor, sick and abused.

On Friday, the United Way celebrated the official kickoff of its annual fundraising campaign with a breakfast at APlex and officials updated supporters on how the fundraising effort from 2017 ended. They also shared the goal for this year.

Last year, the goal of $215,000 was surpassed, when $219,348 was donated and the hope is the 2018 goal of $217,000 will also be met or eclipsed.

Friday’s event had a Dr. Seuss theme, complete with green eggs and ham and community leaders in costume. It featured speakers from agencies and organizations that depend on United Way funding to help fulfill their various missions. The United Way has given to Alpena Public Schools, the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena, Hope Shores Alliance, the Sunrise Mission and more.

United Way Co-chairs Steve and Alison Jakubcin said they have seen firsthand the impact agencies that work with United Way can have. Steve Jakubcin said that, without the donations, many people would be impacted and struggle through uncomfortable situations.

“We couldn’t have done this without the support and generosity of this community,” Jakubcin said. “When we unite, we can really have a huge impact on the community.”

This year’s fundraiser, which will wrap up on Dec.31, actually started last week, when employees from local businesses made donations. United Way Executive Director Sonya Thomas said that, in just over a week’s time, there has already been $36,565 raised, which is about 20 percent of the overall goal.

Thomas said that Northeast Michigan is the poorest area in the state and, because of that, there are many people who struggle to make ends meet and often can’t afford to pay for help they may need.

She said that is where the United Way and its partners come in. Thomas said that, thanks to donations — of which 97 percent remains local — people who need help can obtain it. She said there are also times when the people who donate need help themselves later down the road.

“You never know what can happen and the life that you impact today could be one to help you or someone you know later,” she said.

People can drop of donations at Cliff Anschuetz Chevrolet or at the United Way office. Donations can also be made on the United Way website.