United Way celebrates another year of giving back

  • New campaign Chairwoman Patriciaann Pirog speaks at the United Way of Franklin County annual Community Celebration and Recognition Breakfast Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/ANITA FRITZ

  • Outgoing Co-Chairwomen Amanda Abramson-Clarke, right, and Liz Fisk tell the crowd at the United Way of Franklin County annual Community Celebration and Recognition Breakfast Thursday about this year’s campaign. STAFF PHOTO/ANITA FRITZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/13/2019 5:48:20 PM
Modified: 6/13/2019 5:48:09 PM

GREENFIELD — The United Way of Franklin County recognized another year of giving, a successful campaign, and several individuals and businesses during its annual Community Celebration and Recognition Breakfast on Thursday morning.

This year’s campaign, which included individual, workplace and corporate donations, raised $582,659 with another $75,000 in pledges for a total of $657,659, according to campaign Co-Chairwomen Amanda Abramson-Clarke and Liz Fisk. Another $75,000 was raised to support specific projects and programs.

The co-chairs said United Way would like to raise another $18,000 by June 30 to reach its goal.

United Way Treasurer Rose Bache said the nonprofit had more than $1 million in assets and $501,000 in liabilities as of June 30, 2018. She said 85 percent of the money raised goes to programs, 12 percent to administrative costs and 3 percent to fundraising costs.

“We continue our work to provide educational, financial and health stability,” Bache said.

She said the United Way provided support over the past year of $458,960 to 27 partner agencies throughout the community to help those in need. Some of the events the United Way holds are its annual diaper driver, Blooming Backpacks, Strength in Nachos, Arts & Leisure Auction Gala and more.

Next year’s campaign chairwoman is Patriciaann Pirog, who works for Covestro of South Deerfield. As she took the reins from Abramson-Clarke and Fisk, she said she was surprised, but very honored to be asked.

“I talked to friends and family and they said, ‘Why not you?’” she said.

Pirog explained to the crowd at Terrazza Restaurant at the Greenfield County Club that five years ago she was in a motorcycle crash that left her injured and out of work for six months.

“I was one paycheck away from being someone who needed the United Way’s help,” Pirog said. “My family and I were the exception.”

Pirog said she wants to give back to her community.

“It takes a village to support this type of campaign and be the voice for those who don’t have one,” she said. “We are that voice. This is our chance to make a difference.”

“Dear Franklin County” is the theme of the upcoming campaign.

“We are the village that will champion this campaign,” Pirog said.

The United Way of Franklin County gave out several awards this year.

Peter Hunsicker and Deb Klein received the Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes individuals who volunteer their time on a regular basis to support the programs and work of the United Way.

Abramson-Clarke received the Community Champion Award, which recognizes an individual or group who embodies the spirit of the United Way’s mission and actively serves the community in their workplace and life activities.

Dan Kunhardt Nelson, Carol Lebo and Ruth Yanka all received the Lifetime Service Award for their many years of dedicated service to the United Way and their communities.

Greenfield Cooperative Bank received the Spirit Award, while Greenfield Savings Bank received the Live United 365 Award, and Covestro received the Trailblazer Award, which recognizes a new campaign that has more than 50 percent participation in the United Way of Franklin County or an existing campaign that increases giving and participation by 20 percent, as well as leading by example.

The final award — a new one this year — was given to Deerfield Academy. The Channing Bete Cornerstone Award will be given each year to a workplace that lives united by giving, volunteering and advocating in support of the well-being of Franklin County residents.

“It has been an honor and privilege to be part of the United Way through our employees,” said Joe Bete, former president of Channing Bete and a member of the board of directors. “We have enjoyed helping others who need so much help.”

Bete said that though the South Deerfield company will close its doors in two weeks for good, everything has a beginning and end.

“This award is very meaningful to our employees and to us,” he said.

United Way Executive Director Kelly Brigham-Steiner closed by saying the nonprofit will continue to collaborate and build partnerships and relationships. She said it will continue to make the lives of families, co-workers, friends and neighbors better throughout the county.

“Dear Franklin County, we will continue to be a game-changer,” Brigham-Steiner said.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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