Note: This is a guest article by Dave Bezusko, Executive Director of United Way of Logan County (since April 2015). He came to Bellefontaine after serving a dozen years as the Campaign & Public Relations Director at United Way of Union County in Marysville. There, he helped raise over $10 million during his tenure, with the annual campaign growing from $690,000 in 2003 to over $1 million in 2014. A life-long Ohioan, Bezusko has a sports broadcasting background that precedes his United Way career. Dave is married to his wife, Carrie, and the couple has three children. In his spare time, Dave is studying to become an ordained deacon in the Catholic Diocese of Columbus.
A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar. And while this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, it’s actually not too far from the way United Way started.
128 years ago, in Denver, Colorado, a group of area church leaders convened to discuss how to respond to people who were approaching their congregations for assistance. Wouldn’t it be great, they said, if instead of all these causes coming to you asking for donations, there were one “united appeal” for all of them? So they held a common fundraiser that year, netting over $21,000, and what came to be the United Way movement was born. The idea spread and today there are more than 1,800 local United Ways around the globe that combine to form the world’s largest non-profit.
United Way came to Logan County in 1954. But we have evolved into much more than just a fundraiser. United Way is a valued community partner, collaborating with businesses, non-profits, government, and civic organizations to help meet the social service needs of the community.
United Way of Logan County is a member of United Way Worldwide and not a chapter. Why does that make a difference? Because it means that we are a local, grassroots organization. It means that the money raised here stays here. It means that we are governed by local volunteers who live and work in our community. It means that we can tailor our organization to meet the specific social service needs and reflect the values of Logan County.
For example, we’re putting our money where our mouth is this year, literally and figuratively. Statistics show that 14.6% of Logan County residents are “food insecure,” lacking consistent access to food because of a lack of money and other resources. Did you know that United Way funds 11 food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Logan County, from Quincy to West Mansfield, with nearly $80,000 donor dollars, more than any other issue, going to this basic need.
We align with more than 20 Funded Agencies to accomplish our mission in the areas of education, income, and health. From therapeutic riding scholarships for developmentally disabled youth at Discovery Riders to adult day care for seniors at Green Hills Community, United Way is impacting lives. One in three Logan County residents is impacted by a United Way funded program. So as it did in the 1800’s, one gift to United Way still reaches a variety of causes.
This fall, we’ll be working to raise $720,000 to meet the needs of our community. You don’t have to look around the world to find someone in need. You just have to look around the corner. Consider making a gift to your local United Way. Or volunteer to help us with our mission! Find out more on our website at www.uwlogan.org or give us a call at (937) 592-2886. Remember, great things happen when we LIVE UNITED!