United Way to kick off campaign with community picnic

The United Way of Manistee County will hold its annual community picnic on Wednesday. (News Advocate file photo)

The United Way of Manistee County will hold its annual community picnic on Wednesday. (News Advocate file photo)

MANISTEE — As United Way of Manistee County gears up for the 2018-19 fundraising campaign, executive director Corey Van Fleet believes its success will rely on involvement.

“We talk more about the community’s needs than we do the dollars,” he explained. “What we’d really like to see is 800, 900 people get involved this year by helping, volunteering, giving their time and maybe a donation here and there.

“The dollars will take care of themselves if you get right amount of people involved.”

Fittingly, the United Way is welcoming one and all to its third annual Community Picnic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lions Pavilion, located on Manistee’s First Street Beach.

The event — sponsored by House of Flavors — will feature a free lunch that includes hot dogs, chips, fruit and ice cream, as well as live music by Ben Kolk and Joey Mankus, yard games, children’s activities and more.

While the free event is aimed to be a fun, official kickoff to the United Way’s campaign, Van Fleet said spreading awareness about the organization and its mission starts here too.

“The idea is to have a community event in the summer where people can come, have some fun, and learn more about the United Way and the things that we do,” he explained. “It’s a nice way to spend time together on the beach and get the word out that the United Way is still busy and hard at it, taking care of people who need a hand now and then.”

The United Way is asking anyone interested in volunteering at the community picnic to call the local office at (231) 723-2331 or email lisa@uwmanistee.org.

The United Way raised $116,000 through last year’s fundraising campaign. The general mission of the organization is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of the community, connecting those in need with the plethora of helpful resources available to them.

“Our mission nationally is to help people specifically in the areas of education, health and family financial stability,” Van Fleet explained. “Under those rubrics, we do everything from food and housing to childcare and more.

“We try to be a presence in the community and make people aware that if they have a need, they can get a hold of us,”

Van Fleet said United Way’s flagship program continues to be 2-1-1, the health and human service equivalent of 9-1-1 that offers information and referrals for food, utilities, veterans’ help, employment services, disaster assistance, volunteer opportunities and thousands of other resources to more than 24,000 Manistee County residents.

“The 2-1-1 is one of our biggest components, which is the vehicle we use to make sure everyone is connected to the resources they need.”

Within the last year, United Way also took Project Read Northwest under its wing.

For more than 50 years, Project Read — under various names — has offered free and confidential one-on-one tutoring for adults in reading, writing, English as a second language, citizenship, GED preparation and math. It is now housed in the United Way’s local office: 449 River St. in Manistee.

For more information on the United Way and its fundraising efforts, call (231) 723-2331 or visit www.uwmanistee.org. The United Way of Manistee County can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.

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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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