United Way kicks off campaign

Tiffin-Seneca United Way kicked off its campaign earlier this month with a higher financial goal than last year and organization leadership hope they can “make dreams come true.”

Pat DeMonte, executive director of the local United Way, said last year’s goal was $484,000, but $486,242.74 was raised. This year’s goal is $485,000.

She said the money is distributed to 21 partner agencies that work to improve the lives of community residents.

DeMonte said this year’s campaign slogan is “Be the one! Be a star! Make a difference where you are! Together we can make dreams come true!”

She said last year’s campaign vice chair, Rahat Ahmed, will serve as the campaign chair this year.

Ahmed, who is director of corporate and foundation relations at Tiffin University, said the campaign slogan came to her because of the Disney theme of wishing upon a star.

“I was thinking, maybe each and every one of us who donates, either money, their time, their skills … they are a star,” she said. “Some people need food, need clothes, need electricity or need help going to doctor … any wish that they make, each and every one of us can make their dreams come true.”

Ahmed will be assisted by vice chair Haley Thomas, who is director of sales and marketing at Ballreich’s.

Ahmed quoted Mahatma Gandhi when discussing the significance of giving back to the community.

“The best way to find yourself it to lose yourself in the service of others,” she said. “There are not enough words to describe the significance of giving back to your community and helping to make someone else’s dreams come true.”

Ahmed, who has been involved with United Way for 17 years, said she is excited for this year’s campaign.

“I truly, absolutely believe if we help United Way, we can make significant and positive change in somebody’s life,” she said. “There’s so much need in this community right now.”

Thomas said the United Way is an “amazing” organization that touches the hearts of so many in the community.

“We provide those in need with assets they truly need to be successful, improving one life at a time,” she said.

DeMonte said the campaign kicked off Oct. 2 with a fundraiser and she said several companies already had begun seeking donations.

She said she hopes for local donations to come in by Dec. 31, but the end of the campaign is March 31.

DeMonte said each of the organizations that receive funding through United Way must work to improve people’s lives through at least one of four impact areas. She said they include education, health, income stability and safety net services.

DeMonte said the organization helps with education by providing youth programs, training and teaching to children.

“To help them become future leaders and to guide our youth to become better individuals,” she said, before adding that the Read to Succeed program is an example of an organization using funding to provide educational help to struggling students.

DeMonte said the local YMCA is an example of an organization helping to focus on health.

“They are always promoting healthy living, healthy eating and exercise,” she said. “They are helping to make a healthier community.”

DeMonte also said a backpack program provides food to children in school who may not have enough food. She said 550 children in the community have received groceries to keep them from going hungry.

DeMonte said the income stability impact area is tackled by the United Way and partner agencies by providing financial help to people to help pay bills, pay rent or buy food. The Salvation Army is one example, she said.

DeMonte said The Red Cross and other organizations provide safety net services in times of unforeseen disasters.

“Each one of our impact agencies have to align with one or more of those impact areas,” she said.

“When we help others, we are making an impact on their life and on our own, whether we realize it or not,” she said. “We need the help of the whole community.”

DeMonte said every dollar counts.

“It’s not like you have to give $1,000,” she said. “If someone donated $1 per pay, it would help children start school ready to learn by purchasing school supplies for them. If someone donated $2 per pay, it would provide weekend backpacks with groceries for children who may otherwise go hungry. What a difference that would make.”

DeMonte said giving to the United Way is giving to the community.

“We focus not just on fundraising, but making an impact on our community and improving the lives of residents,” she said. “That’s what we do.”

DeMonte said donations are tax-deductible.

To make a donation, call (419) 448-0355 or visit www.tiffin-seneca-unitedway.org.