United Way highlights successes of 2016-17

Tom Culbert was recognized by the United Way of Manistee County for his service to the community. Pictured from left to right are Culbert's wife Lois, United Way executive director Corey Van Fleet and Culbert. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Tom Culbert was recognized by the United Way of Manistee County for his service to the community. Pictured from left to right are Culbert’s wife Lois, United Way executive director Corey Van Fleet and Culbert. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE COUNTY — The United Way of Manistee County didn’t set out to hit a monetary target in 2016-17, at least not in the tangible sense.

Instead — while still putting forth fruitful fundraising efforts — the organization focused on its ultimate mission, which is to improve health, education and family financial stability in the area.

The result was the ability to reflect on a year of significant successes this week at the organization’s annual business meeting, held at the Bungalow Inn in Manistee.

“We had a great year,” said Corey Van Fleet, executive director of the local chapter. “We had a good year program-wise and a good year financially.”

Glenn Lottie, vice chairman of United Way’s board of directors, commended the organization’s staff at Wednesday’s meeting.

“They’ve done a wonderful job this year,” he said. “They worked very hard to get us to where we’re at. It’s been years since we’ve been in the black, so it’s looking good and I’m very proud of our staff.”

At the meeting, the board approved its fiscal year-end financials, which showed $24,761 in earned income after operational expenses.

United Way officials made sure to highlight a few of the organization’s successes in the past year, which included:

• Over $30,000 distributed to local initiatives and programs;

• Sponsored the Manistee Area Public Schools Summer Camp Enrichment Program for third graders;

• Facilitated the Arc Summer Enrichment Program;

• Hosted a community picnic for more than 250 residents;

• Hosted Thanksgiving dinner for more than 300 residents;

• Held its 16th annual Chili Cook-Off;

• Supported the development efforts for Manistee’s Armory Youth Project and community track; and

• United Way prescription discount program Familywize saved Manistee County residents $474,019 on 2,866 prescriptions.

Of course, the organization has no time to rest on its laurels. Van Fleet said the United Way is full steam ahead in its mission for 2017-18.

“We still have the issue of housing, still have the issue of food, still have the issue of transportation — the things that are biting people every day,” he said. “Those are the kinds of things we’re up to our ears with and continue to work on every day.

“We’ve got people working very hard in those areas, and we should see some major improvements in the quality of life in Manistee in the next year.”

The United Way took time to recognize a former and influential member of its ranks Wednesday afternoon in Tom Culbert, who attended the meeting with his wife of 70 years, Lois.

“Tom was superintendent of Manistee Area Public Schools from 1965 to 1986,” Van Fleet said. “He was active in the community on all kinds of committees and in 1968-69 he chaired the United Way campaign.

“In ’86, when he retired from public education, he remained involved in the community, and he’s been just invaluable as a resource for us.”

Following tradition, the United Way also awarded a local organization the Volunteer Choice Award.

“Each year at this meeting, people put a name in the hat of their favorite organization, and at the end we draw one at random. That organization gets a check for $500.

This year’s recipient was Staircase Youth Services, Inc. which assists at-risk, runaway, and/or homeless youth in West Michigan.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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