The 67th annual United Way of Logan County Campaign kicked off Friday at the Bellefontaine Regional Airport at 8:00 a.m. with a unique, drive-in launch and the annual Community Care Day corporate volunteer event. Logan County is the smallest community in Ohio to raise $1 million for its local United Way and will be attempting to do so for the third year in a row.
Donations to United Way may never have proved more valuable than in 2020. That's because of its response to the unexpected secondary impacts the Coronavirus has made locally.
“This has been an unprecedented year as we all know,” said Katie Rychener, a Lakeview resident and teacher at Bellefontaine High School. Rychener, along with her husband, Darrin Haubert, is serving as 2020 Campaign Co-Chair.
“We are living in a time of change, a time of adaptation and a time of uncertainty,” she said. “The vital assistance that United Way has given to Logan County citizens has always been critical and reliable in our community, but even more so in a time of crisis like we have been in for the last six months due to the impact of COVID 19.”
"Who could have seen Coronavirus coming last year when you made your United Way gift?" said Dave Bezusko, United Way's Executive Director. "But as 2020 proved, United Way is flexible enough to make a difference no matter what our greatest human service need may be. Who knows what 2021 will bring? Or 2030? Or 2050? But United Way will be here, as it has since 1955 in Logan County, ready to serve and fill the gaps."
Bezusko cited several examples of how use of donations shifted to make an impact.
- When unemployment soared to 31 percent and #1 in the state, 3,788 individuals flocked to the United Way-funded Second Harvest Food Bank’s drive-thru pantry distributions in the 2nd quarter. The Ohio National Guard staffed them a dozen times a month! Most recipients had never used a food pantry before.
- Our Daily Bread has become “Our Twice-Daily Bread,” serving both lunch AND dinner since March.
- So that our most vulnerable did not have venture out, we started a free grocery delivery program with RTC Services for all residents over 60. And the number of shut-ins receiving meals-on-wheels via LifeCare Alliance has increased by 38 percent.
- Calls to the 211 information and referral hotline increased by 25 percent during the shutdown period.
- Monthly book mailings to 1,800 preschoolers via the Ohio Governor’s / Dolly Parton Imagination Library continued uninterrupted. Logan County remains #2 in Ohio with 60 percent of our preschoolers enrolled.
- With depression and anxiety levels high, all 6th and 9th grade students in Logan County will be screened for mental health, substance abuse, and suicide risk through TCN Behavioral Health.
- It’s also worth noting that United Way has been supporting local law enforcement long before national events put a spotlight on police relations with communities (since 2012). $23,000 in United Way funding is backing the Bellefontaine Police Department and Logan County Sheriff’s Office community events this year. These foster positive interaction, encouraging residents that policemen are on OUR side.
Donors can give to the 2020 United Way campaign via payroll deduction at work, online, or by texting UWLOGAN to 44321.
Joining Haubert and Rychener on the 2020 United Way Campaign Cabinet will be Danielle Anderson of Woodforest National Bank; Deb Baker, City of Bellefontaine Councilwoman; Magistrate Natasha Kennedy, Logan County Family Court; Carmen LeVan Mary Rutan Hospital; Colton Lowry, Edward Jones; Alison Marker, Marker Construction; Christy Myers, Mary Rutan Hospital; Kris Myers, Bellefontaine Joint Recreation District; Shannon Reese, Small Nation; Kelsey Webb, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center; and Michael Wilson, Logan County Electric Cooperative.
"Please give generously and give with your heart," said Rychener. "At the end of the day, you are helping your neighbor. You are helping your friends. You are helping the kids in this community who need this money and they need the support that we can provide locally."