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.
“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.
“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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.