United Way looks to raise $1.4M in fundraising campaign

  • Members of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce attend Friday’s chamber breakfast at Franklin County Technical School. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Jennifer Ewers (left) and Jessye Deane (right), United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region fundraising campaign co-chairs, and Geoff Naunheim (middle), United Way’s interim executive director, pose for a photo at Friday’s chamber breakfast at Franklin County Technical School. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Geoff Naunheim, interim executive director of United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region, gives a speech at Friday’s chamber breakfast at Franklin County Technical School. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/23/2022 4:15:17 PM
Modified: 9/23/2022 4:14:39 PM

TURNERS FALLS — The United Way of the Franklin and Hampshire Region kicked off its annual fundraising campaign on Friday, with a goal of raising $1.4 million.

“We always try to raise more money than we have in the past,” Geoff Naunheim, United Way’s interim executive director, said in an interview after Friday’s Franklin County Chamber of Commerce breakfast, which doubled as the fundraising campaign’s kick-off event. “With inflation, it will be more expensive to get to work and heat our homes. We will see an increased need as winter hits.”

This year marks the local United Way chapter’s 100th anniversary. It started as the Northampton Community Chest, and has expanded tremendously since then.

“It is an honor to be with an organization in their 100th year,” Naunheim said.

United Way raises money to distribute grants to a variety of nonprofits. The organization also leads a diaper bank that supplies 15 local pantries with diapers monthly.

The Hampshire County and Franklin County chapters of United Way merged in July 2021. The merger “has brought $50 million back into the region, and increased support by 30% to Franklin County organizations last year,” Naunheim said in his speech at Franklin County Technical School on Friday.

“It’s the nonprofits doing the most life-changing work — that’s where United Way comes in,” said Jessye Deane, the new executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of this year’s fundraising campaign. “United Way is responsive to community needs when state funding comes short.”

Sponsors of Friday’s event included the accounting firm Melanson and Mativ, a plastics manufacturing company.

“We believe in order to be successful, we have to help our community and educate our team members,” Crystal Fish, human resources business partner at Mativ, noted in a speech.

Nate Johnson, executive director of North Quabbin Citizen Advocacy, gave the main speech at the breakfast. The group is a partner organization for United Way, with its objective being to provide protection and advocacy for people with mental health disorders by fostering one-to-one personal relationships between people living in the North Quabbin community.

“United Way is the new booster shot that we need,” Johnson told attendees.

United Way has various fundraisers throughout the year. One fundraiser that was highlighted at the breakfast is its workplace campaigns. Companies can create fundraisers for an office environment, where employees can work together to raise money for United Way. Deane stressed that participation is more important than any dollar amount raised.

“United Way calls the community to action,” said Jennifer Ewers, another co-chair of the fundraising campaign. “They have the boots on the ground that we rely on.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or blevavi@recorder.com.


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