It's All Kinected!

A UWSM Original by the United Way Staff

Kinexus understands that the success of our community lies in connecting individuals and businesses with the right opportunities for growth, engagement, and change. This philosophy is practiced through their work in the community, as well as part of their daily office culture. One of the ways they accomplish this is by providing their employees with opportunities to showcase their leadership skills through their office’s United Way campaign.

“At Kinexus, we view the campaign as an opportunity for staff to professionally grow.  It’s an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, earn project experience, and even recognition, by peers and leaders.  It’s like a leadership work-experience that benefits the individual and the organization. It’s part of our strategic imperative of investing in our people,” states Todd Gustafson, Kinexus’ Chief Executive Director.

When outgoing Employee Campaign Chair (ECC) Paula Polaskey stepped down, new ECC and Kinexus' Talent Development Specialist, Evelyn Castrejon, found the position enabled her to learn more about United Way as an organization and forge a strong relationship with her co-workers.

Mary Morphey, Manager of Corporate Communications, and Dan Peat, Vice President of Business and Community Development

Mary Morphey, Manager of Corporate Communications, and Dan Peat, Vice President of Business and Community Development

“When Paula stepped down this year it was a competitive process to see who would get to be the ECC. In our weekly operations and intel meeting they announced they needed volunteers to run the campaign. Several co-workers said I should do it, or said they thought about me right away,” says Evelyn. “It really helped to see how the rest of the team supported me and believed in me. That led me to believe more in myself. The support of the whole staff was a big factor because I was new; I felt a part of the team.”

“At Kinexus, we view the [United Way] campaign as an opportunity for staff to professionally grow. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, earn project experience, and even recognition, by peers and leaders.”
— Todd Gustafson, Kinexus CEO

Besides being a corporate partner, Kinexus is a United Way funded partner through the Bridge Academy and Jobs for Michigan Graduates programs. In 2016, Kinexus made an impact on the local economy by filling 3,050 positions for 620 local employers and training 422 people in industries that grow our economy.

“Most of our staff knows what United Way does but learning more of the details gives us a better working knowledge of things we might not see day to day. For them it was good to highlight how United Way is a force multiplier, that we run a campaign not just because we are a funded partner but because the other services of the United Way’s other funded partner’s help move the needle on; on things we are not involved in. We may know what United Way does, but they may not recognize how it effects our entire environment,” explains Kinexus’ Vice President of Business and Community Development, Dan Peat.   

During the campaign Evelyn and her team organized impact tours with other United Way funded partners, brought in speakers that had been helped by United Way programs, provided data and facts sheets for rallies, and hosted events like office mazes and basketball tournaments. The mix of group activities and information hit a home run by giving Kinexus employees an experience to have fun, raise money, and make a difference together.

Mary Morphey, Manager of Corporate Communications, thought this year’s Kinexus campaign had a unique identity because, through addition of impact tours, it helped many of them connect the dots and see the whole picture.  

“On one of [the impact] tours, there was a staff member whose son received help from United Way’s Center for Reading and Learning at Andrews and knew it was funded by United Way. When she got to the tour of the shelter she got emotional. She realized that not only her family benefitted from the United Way, and her work benefitted, but how many other families are benefiting,” explains Mary.  “A strong United Way makes a stronger community, and a stronger community makes a stronger Kinexus and stronger partner organizations. That strength drives economic development and makes stronger opportunities, and that’s what makes our area a great place to live, work, and play.”

For more information on Kinexus, visit them at www.kinexus.org.

You can count on Martin's to impact your community

A UWSM Original by the United Way Staff

MARTIN'S LOGO.png

The average shopper may not realize a trip to Martin’s Super Markets in St. Joseph is more than filling a weekly shopping list or that their slogan ‘Count on Us’ has bigger meaning than just having a grocery item in stock. As you weave through the aisles, pick up food from the deli or make your way through checkout, the employees you see diligently working are also hard at work making sure our community can count on vital services being available for those in need of help.

Martin’s has been an avid supporter of United Way of Southwest Michigan, working their way to one of the top three companies with new donor growth, behind only Whirlpool and Lakeland. In 2015 they increased their campaign by 300%, and in 2016, they almost doubled the year’s previous number of employee participation. The reason is very simple. It’s personal. 

Ivan Price, Manager (Martin's Supermarket in St. Joseph)

Ivan Price, Manager (Martin's Supermarket in St. Joseph)

“I have visited so many [organizations] that have all told me ‘we could not exist without funding from United Way. Places like Gateway, Berrien County Cancer Service, and Child and Family Services of Southwest Michigan all receive funds from United Way and are able to help so many people because of it,” explains Store Manager Ivan Price. “But also, we have employees here who have received help from different United Way agencies and they understand how important it is that these services are available. These employees are not well off but still find a way to give. They come from different income levels, and we see many times that the bottom of that level gives the most. They are passionate because they are affected directly.”

Cathy Taylor, Martin’s new Employee Campaign Chair for 2016, had never given to United Way until she learned how many people are affected by their work. She was inspired to not only donate, but to take a larger role in their store’s campaign. She works closely with her United Way Campaign Coordinator to inform their employees about what United Way does. 

L to R: Dawn Payne, Ivan Price, and Anna Thompson at the 2015 United Way of Southwest Michigan Annual Celebration.  Ivan Price was awarded ECC of the Year for a Medium Business while Martin's Supermarket of St. Joseph received the Trendsetter Award.

L to R: Dawn Payne, Ivan Price, and Anna Thompson at the 2015 United Way of Southwest Michigan Annual Celebration.  Ivan Price was awarded ECC of the Year for a Medium Business
while Martin's Supermarket of St. Joseph received the Trendsetter Award.

“We scheduled an impact tour for our employees where we got to visit United Way funded programs. We saw places like the Logan Center, Boys and Girls Club and Emergency Shelter Services (ESS). Seeing how Logan helps people with disabilities, the programs for kids, and how [our dollars] help people who have nothing made us all want to help more,” explains Cathy. “When we got back we started a drive to stock the shelves at ESS and our customers filled up huge boxes in no time. It means so much to be able to give these boxes of food to them knowing that it really helps.”

Cathy explains that their employees relationship with Martin’s St. Joseph customers and United Way creates a multilevel partnership that allows us all to make a huge impact together. 

“Charlotte at United Way gets us up to date informational materials, explains how our dollars leverage more funds into the community, and makes sure any question our staff has about their donations is answered. That helps us to understand what we are supporting, and what is needed.” says Cathy. “Then we can ask our customers for help and make it easy for them to give if all they need to do is look at a list and get it while they are here.”

“I have always known the [importance] of United Way. My father ran a United Way campaign for Clark Equipment and got 100% participation. He always knew it was a good cause and now I get to do that with my staff.”
— Ivan Price, Store Manager

Martin’s employees support many area charities year-round through events like Coaches for Cancer, American Heart Association’s Red Dress Pin Sale, Shamrocks for Muscular Dystrophy Association and Toys for Tots. Locally they collect food for community food pantries, for animals at the Humane Society of Southwest Michigan, hold Secret Santa’s for Seniors for Area Agency on Aging (December 2-4, 2016), and donate annually to a charity through Snapshots with Santa Showdown (December 10-12). 

“It feels good to have our employees so invested in our United Way Campaign,” explains Ivan, last year’s United Way of Southwest Michigan Small Business Employee Campaign Chair of the year Award Winner. “I have always known the [importance] of United Way. My father ran a United Way campaign for Clark Equipment and got 100% participation. He always knew it was a good cause and now I get to do that with my staff.”

United Way of Southwest Michigan set a historic campaign goal of $4 million.  Campaign season officially ends January 31st.  If you work for a business that is not currently running a campaign and would like more information, please visit www.uwsm.org/campaign-update/ or email United Way at info@uwsm.org.  United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community.  They do this by LIVING UNITED.  By forging unlikely partnerships.  By finding new solutions to old problems.  And by mobilizing the best resources.

As Honor Credit Union Grows, so does their Commitment to the Community

It's rare to find a business that is excited about it's growth, not because of how it serves their bottom line, but how it serves human kind. That is what Honor Credit Union hopes will be the result of their rapid growth in our area; to help more people in our community. Honor has spent a lot of time over the years becoming an active part of area fundraisers. Perhaps you have seen it. If you have participated in a local run, walk, 5K or even office chair race, chances are you have seen the 15 foot high Honor Credit Union inflatable finish line there to greet those that give their time to helping local charitable organizations. Maybe your child loves their Honor Credit Union sunglasses they got for participating in a local charitable event. Or maybe you received an awesome Honor Credit Union coffee tumbler for donating to a cause. In addition to all this, they know the importance of participating. Chances are, if you look at the volunteers at a local event, you will find Honor Credit Union employees happily giving their time on nights and weekends. That is why Honor Credit Union is growing, because they personally invest in us.

Their growth has called for a new corporate headquarters to be constructed right in the middle of our region in Berrien Springs. The new building, just north of the M-139 highway exit off US-31, opened in April of this year with a modern look, resembling something you'd see in Architectural Digest. As you walk in, you see the abundance of space, all necessary to house the more than 105 employees, in a building that has room for more than 200. The continued growth of Honor has led to a massive growth in assets since 2013, and an increase of over 22,000 members; yet, it's the growing amount of work being done in the community that is most important.

"We believe in the communities where we were founded," said Honor CEO and 2015 United Way Campaign Co-Chair, Scott McFarland. "If you're a financial cooperative and truly are one, you give back to the community. The returns are very powerful."

McFarland's philosophy proves why Honor and United Way of Southwest Michigan have such a great partnership.  The focus is always on 'giving back to the community.' "It's people helping people. The objective is United Way money stays within the community just as a credit union focuses on as well," added McFarland. "United Way has the ability to pool the funds and create a greater impact because of the matching they allow. They also link many organizations together. You can't discount the work United Way does connecting agencies."

Honor has been running a United Way workplace campaign for over 20 years. They know the dollars they raise are dollars put right back into the community, making a difference on lives in Berrien and Cass. Last year as part of their campaign, they hosted a jeans week, which helped them surpass their goal. A few years back it was a gift basket silent auction that employees bid on which raised over $2,000. Kaylee Williams, Public Relations & Internal Communications Manager at Honor, as well as the 2015 United Way Campaign Co-Chair, recalls the first campaign she was involved with, that consisted of jumping into a frigid Lake Michigan in March as part of a Cold Water Challenge. There's no shortage of creativity at Honor, and the employees know it's all part of a greater good.

"Whenever you get a group together to reach a common goal, there is a competitive nature to it, and the fact that you're doing it together is powerful," stated Williams. "Some of our best community events have been a teller's idea. They start in the branches and work their way up."

Outside of the workplace campaign, Honor employees have volunteered with United Way's Day of Action for Seniors and Girls on the Run, and they partnered with United Way by incentivizing the Berrien and Cass county 2015 school campaigns.  Their employees have given more than 5,745 of volunteer hours to the community in 2015, supported more than 383 community programs, and awarded $13,000 in scholarships.

"There will always be that local need," stated St. Joseph Branch Manager and 2016 United Way Campaign Cabinet member, Tanya Urias. "Places like the Men's Shelter and Child and Family Services and hearing the stories of what they need makes you want to give more. Our community here at Honor is what sets us apart."

For United Way of Southwest Michigan's President, Anna Murphy, it's Honor's continued support for the community that stands out. "We are proud of the relationship we have with Honor. The amount of work that they do around this community, year-in and year-out, really demonstrates the commitment they have of giving back." 

Mid-West Family Broadcasting LIVES UNITED!

A UWSM Original by the United Way Staff

They’ve been pie’d, slimed, dunked and raced toilets through the streets. When it comes to helping the people of Michigan’s Great Southwest, the cast and crew at Midwest Family Broadcasting don’t just talk about it, they take their dedication off the mic and into the world. 

For more than 30 years, the Midwest Family staff has been a vital community partner to United Way of Southwest Michigan. Dedicating themselves not only to raising funds and awareness, but also making it a point to educate their listeners about what United Way of Southwest Michigan does. 

Mid-West Family Broadcasting President, Dave Doetsch.

Mid-West Family Broadcasting President, Dave Doetsch.

“When I started at the radio station full time, about 10 years ago, United Way was one of those things I just didn’t understand or know about. I made it my mission to start doing more research, “states Zack East from 98.3 The Coast. “My eyes were opened to the amazing work United Way does. Not only on their own as an organization, but making sure donations are going to the right places, that they are being used appropriately and that they are accountable for those dollars. There’s just so much more to United Way than collecting some dollars and giving it to people.”

This deeper understanding of United Way of Southwest Michigan’s mission, to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities to advance the common good, has motivated many of the Midwest Family employees to take on bigger volunteer roles. They have served on the United Way Board of Directors, Campaign Cabinet, Campaign Design Team and as Employee Campaign Chairs. While this volunteer work is done above and beyond the long hours they put in at the stations, they do it with the larger picture for our community in mind. 

“It’s more about the idea that United Way is bridging and connecting the non-profit sector, the for-profit, government agencies, municipalities and everybody, all together, to understand and address what is happening in our community as a whole,” added East.

President and General Manager, Dave Doetsch, believes that developing an understanding of what United Way does can truly make a difference.  Having a mic to speak into, and an expanding audience throughout Southwest Michigan gives Midwest Family a unique opportunity.

It’s more about the idea that United Way is bridging and connecting the non-profit sector, the for-profit, government agencies, municipalities and everybody, all together, to understand and address what is happening in our community as a whole
— Zack East, 98.3 The Coast

“It’s our number one priority to be the voice of the community. We have to tell [our listeners] what is happening around them, what the weather is, if a road is closed and about sales at stores. But we also have to tell the story about giving; about supporting the not-for-profit effort in our community. About the fundraising programs that are happening…and the why,” explains Doetsch. “If we don’t share what that story is than it seems like just a hand out asking ‘can you give?’  But we can share the story of the United Way that explains how $1 can equal up to $3 through matching funds. How those dollars join other dollars and goes to where it can make the most impact. That each dollar is going to be measured; and there will be a report showing what that dollar was used for. That if you give to the United Way you are also supporting many more people and many more agencies through them. That ‘why’ gives people a better understanding. They can step back and go, ‘alright, I can give here and I know I am making a difference.’"

Doetsch believes that many residents in Berrien and Cass counties may not realize that just $1 can make an impact.  In order for programs to receive state and federal grants, they must show that there is local support for these programs.  United Way dollars can be used as that match.  In 2015, nearly 3 million dollars were leveraged through United Way funding. Every dollar counts, and then some.Yet, while he and Midwest Family’s staff understands the importance from a financial standpoint, they take a personal stake in the work as well.

“A couple of year’s back I was asked to go read at a school that was considered struggling,” says Doetsch. “I was prepared they wouldn't be engaged with me, but they were totally engaged. It meant something to them. If I go and read to them and it means something to them that makes school at little more enjoyable and they want to come to class instead of finding reasons not to go to. For many kids there's too many reasons not to go to school. Maybe they are more worried about where they are getting their next meal than going to school. That is a real situation for many children. Maybe they don't know where they are sleeping, and where they slept last night is far away so the motivation isn't there. But if you can get them excited about school and just the dynamics of learning and feeding their brain; that inspires them, that motivates them to come, and if we can do that, and make a difference for just one kid…we made a difference.”

To see how you can run a campaign, visit: www.uwsm.org/campaigntools

UFCU demonstrates a 'commitment to community'

A UWSM Original by the United Way Staff

Berrien Springs Branch (left to right): Zack Book, Judy Larson, Juliet Sill, Bill Beckman, Dustin Jankoviak

Berrien Springs Branch (left to right): Zack Book, Judy Larson, Juliet Sill, Bill Beckman, Dustin Jankoviak

In the classic film, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, George Baily takes center stage as a savings and loan president who discovers the true meaning of life and community. However, the unsung hero of the film may be the ‘Baily Savings and Loan’ itself. It is through this business that George is able to connect to his community on a personal level, and give them the help they need. While the days of savings and loans have changed, their personal touch of ‘people helping people,’ is thriving at United Federal Credit Union (UFCU).
 
“Our work at the credit union is for the greater good of the member; this takes that to a larger level,” says Zach Book, UFCU Berrien Springs Branch Manager. By partnering with United Way of Southwest Michigan we help everyone we possibly can, and that ensures a greater good is happening in our entire community.”.

From United Way of Southwest Michigan programs like Girls on the Run (GOTR) to and Day of Action for Seniors, UFCU employees go out into their local communities and impact those around them. Jobs include everything from packing GOTR bags to raking the lawns of area seniors who are physically unable to do it themselves.

“When we were volunteering on Senior Day of Action one of our team members noticed one of the men lived by himself and didn’t have a functioning stove. We used money from the UFCU’s ‘Pay it Forward’ program that Christmas to get appliances for him,” remembers Crystal Fouts, Assistant Branch Manager for UFCU in Niles. “He was so surprised and thrilled that he could cook for himself again. That moment of human to human contact that UWSM provided was needed because he probably wouldn’t have ever told anyone that he needed help.”

On top of running an award winning annual United Way employee workplace campaign, UFCU has helped hundreds of girls through their sponsorship of GOTR. GOTR is a program for 3rd through 8th graders that combines training for a 5K with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, make healthy decisions and enhance their problem-solving skills. More than two-thirds of the girls who participate are unable to afford running shoes. This year UFCU started the ‘Your Change Can Make a Difference’ shoe fund to make sure all girls have the right footwear to train for, and run in, the 5K.

Niles Branch (left to right): Erin Fuson, Stephanie Tucker, Crystal Fouts

Niles Branch (left to right): Erin Fuson, Stephanie Tucker, Crystal Fouts

“We have been a part of Girl’s on the Run for four years. Every year we see girls work hard and overcome barriers in this program” says Zack Book. “One year we were getting towards the end of the 5K event and some of the girls that already finished ran back to the finish line to cheer on the ones that hadn't finished yet. There was a girl on crutches and another that had a disability who were trying to finish. To see these girls run back to cheer them to the finish line was just something to see.”

We encourage our employees to find ways to improve the lives of their friends and neighbors, and supporting United Way does that
— UFCU Market Vice President, James Knight

For UFCU Market Vice President James Knight, it’s the commitment to the community that’s most important.  “Our employees have a drive to give back, as evidenced by their generosity to the United Way campaign and by the countless hours of volunteer work they perform every year. We encourage our employees to find ways to improve the lives of their friends and neighbors, and supporting United Way does that,” adds Knight.

UFCU impacts the work of United Way in many ways; not only through their generous workplace campaign and sponsorships, but by enabling their employees to lend a hand in our community. Through their volunteerism they remind us of the most important lesson from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ - that an individual person touches many lives, and can make a big difference in the world. Like the difference for that one little girl who never had a new pair of tennis shoes, who will now be able to run with confidence and pride just like all the other girls. That is something that will last her whole lifetime.

To see the impact that the United Way Southwest Michigan is making in your area visit our impact page. To find out more information about contributing through your workplace, how to start an employee campaign at your business, or scheduling an agency tour, visit our campaign page.

Gast Manufacturing Goes Above and Beyond to Help Community

A UWSM Original by the United Way Staff

To the employees at Gast Manufacturing, the term ‘giving back’ is a company-wide call to action. From the manufacturing floor to the front office, they tout 'service before self' as one of the company’s core values. Gast employees have gone above and beyond to improve lives in Berrien and Cass counties through giving, advocating and volunteering with the United Way of Southwest Michigan; mobilizing the caring power of their company, to change lives. 

“It’s all about the sincerity of everyone’s testimony,” says longtime Gast employee Greg Whitehead. “I hear it here, everyday at work; you hear the crackling in your co-workers voice from emotion when they talk about helping people. You can see the sincerity of the people you work with who are giving back and the emotional impact it has on them. That's what keeps us going and working with United Way.”  

Gast Manufacturing’s passion for helping people is evident in the ways they are involved with United Way year-round through Day of Action for Seniors, Girls on the Run, holiday gifts collections and turkey distribution during Thanksgiving.

“There's a good sense of pride that you are helping people out. From a team work perspective you get to accomplish something meaningful with your co-workers that you normally don't get to when you’re working with them on a day-to-day basis,” says Bob Yack.

Photo Courtesy of Herald Palladium Scott Yack, IT Manager at Gast, paints in the kitchen of the Men’s Shelter at the Benton Harbor Salvation Army.

Photo Courtesy of Herald Palladium

Scott Yack, IT Manager at Gast, paints in the kitchen of the Men’s Shelter at the Benton Harbor Salvation Army.

In 2015 Gast employees found themselves compelled to take their giving to a new level during a United Way agency tour. At one stop, the Salvation Army Men’s Shelter in Benton Harbor, they learned the roof was in desperate need of repair. Knowing this was a dire situation for the shelter, they applied for a $10,000 grant from their company headquarters to fund the repairs as a team building project. Upon receiving the funds, Gast employees secured a contractor to replace the leaky roof. Employees also gave the shelter a new paint job, installed a new island in the kitchen and retiled the water damaged floor.

“So many people are just one accident or one circumstance away from being homeless or down and out. I know what it is like to need help. At one point I was homeless, I lost everything and had to rebuild. When I went on the agency tour with United Way and saw the Men's Shelter, I thought to myself, 'I know what these guys are going through,' and that is why I stepped up,” says Gast’s Tom Gargano.

Employees say they like giving to United Way because of the collective impact their investment yields. 

“I am a bargain shopper; I want the biggest bang for my buck. I want my little dollars to make the biggest impact they can. With United Way I know they will.” says Gast employee Sue Wilming. “I work very hard for my money; I am the sole provider for my family. Things haven't always been easy, but I have a lot more than some and a lot less than others, and for those that have less I want to help them. With United Way I know that my money is going to the right places for the right reasons. I know somebody is minding the store.”

Nermina Kamencic, from Gast, accepts the LIVE UNITED Award presented to her by Major Mike McKee from The Salvation Army, Benton Harbor Corps.

Nermina Kamencic, from Gast, accepts the LIVE UNITED Award presented to her by Major Mike McKee from The Salvation Army, Benton Harbor Corps.

Gast was the recent recipient of the LIVE UNITED and the Medium Business of the Year awards at the 2015 United Way Annual Celebration last month.  The LIVE UNITED award recognizes an organization or individual who embodies the mission, vision and goals of United Way and truly lives out the idiom of Give-Advocate-Volunteer.  For United Way of Southwest Michigan President, Anna Murphy, the award was well deserved.  “Gast has always gone above and beyond for this community, and the work they did in 2015 was no exception.  Whether it was through their commitment to volunteerism or their implementation of best practices, they continue to prove that they are great examples of what it means to LIVE UNITED.”

“It’s the culture here at Gast,” explains employee Kevin Jarvis. “There have been times when some of our employees needed United Way and have been touched by its services, and we have seen how United Way touches those in need in our community. We are like a family here, and family takes care of family.”

To see the impact that United Way Southwest Michigan is making in your area visit our impact page. To find out more information about contributing through your workplace, how to start an employee campaign at your business, or scheduling an agency tour, visit our campaign page.

Autocam of Dowagiac makes a big impact through their United Way campaign

From left, Brandywine Harding, Burton Edgerly and Scott Fowler give to the United Way of Southwest Michigan because they know the dollars stay local to address local needs.

From left, Brandywine Harding, Burton Edgerly and Scott Fowler give to the United Way of Southwest Michigan because they know the dollars stay local to address local needs.

A UWSM Original by the United Way Staff

When Autocam decided to let each individual plant coordinate their own United Way campaign, the Dowagiac employees were excited to seize the opportunity. The company’s campaigns in Dowagiac, Marshall and Kentwood, MI have now turned into a fun yearly competition with each plant trying to out-do the other in participation, dollars raised, and special events. For the employees at Autocam, however, it is about so much more. 

It doesn’t take that much to make the world a better place.
— Jimmy Nash, Autocam employee

“It’s not only about us helping the community, but getting to unite with the people we work with to make a difference," says Cheryl Bennett, Autocam of Dowagiac’s Employee Campaign Coordinator.  "We want people to know that Autocam is locally focused and wants to build our community. The majority of our employees live here, shop here and go to church here, so its here where we want to make a difference.”

Since United Way dollars stay local to address local needs, Autocam employees know that their efforts during campaign will have an impact all year for the people they live and work with. 

“You can't help the whole world but maybe you can help the people around you. That is what I do when I give to our United Way campaign,” explains Burton Edgerly, Dowagiac resident and employee of this facility since 1979. “What I contribute, just for one less Mountain Dew® a day, I can take that money and help someone who needs it. When I give to the United Way I know what the money goes to. I know it stays here.” 

Autocam of Dowagiac is part of NN, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of metal bearing, plastic, rubber, and precision metal components. General Manager Robert Atkins says Autocam was founded on the principle of giving back, and it is important to their leadership that this principle continues to guide the company. 

“The United Way campaign is a unique way to boost moral and bring us together through giving. You just feel better when you give,” Atkins says. He also says the campaign is a fun time for everyone. “The leadership team really gets into it to. We had a manager shave his head one year when his plant hit their goal. Its fun and this way we are helping our community together. We all get to see each other succeed."

While fun is the theme for campaign week, you can ask any employee and they know exactly why they give to the United Way. 

Autocam employee David Johnson had friends helped by United Way's 211 program; that’s why he gives.

Autocam employee David Johnson had friends helped by United Way's 211 program; that’s why he gives.

“My dad was a single father on Social Security and I know what its like to have bills due, to need school clothes and food. It makes me feel good to help,” says Autocam employee David Johnson. “Last year a friend had to go to the ICU because of seizures. His family called 211 and got help at a time when they really needed it. That is why I give.”

Autocam is involved in the Dowagiac community all year. They hold annual food drives, contribute to Toys for Tots, adopt a family for Christmas, and help fund the city’s annual 4th of July fireworks show.

“The United Way of Southwest Michigan thanks Autocam for their enthusiasm and partnership to improve lives throughout our communities,” says Anna Murphy, President of the United Way of Southwest Michigan.

Autocam employee Jimmy Nash sums it up best, “If everybody gave $1 a week, it would make a big difference. It doesn’t take that much to make the world a better place.”

To see the impact that the United Way Southwest Michigan is making in your area visit our impact page. To find out more information about contributing through your workplace, or to find out how to start an employee campaign at your business, visit our campaign page.