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.