United Way Blackhawk Region announces $2.4 million campaign goal

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

JANESVILLE—United Way Blackhawk Region announced a less aggressive fundraising campaign goal and a new initiative with local government during its 2016 kickoff event Wednesday.

The board of directors set a $2.4 million campaign goal.

This is $420,000 less than the $2.82 million goal of the 2015 campaign that raised $2.39 million.

To date, $196,000 in corporate contributions have already been pledged to the 2016 fundraising effort by 16 Pacesetter organizations.

About 400 local United Way supporters attended the official launch of the annual community campaign at the ABC Supply corporate hangar at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.

After breakfast, another 320 people joined them to work at 109 Day of Caring community service projects throughout the local United Way Region.

They cleaned, painted, landscaped and built.

United Way revealed details of Get Connected, a new collaboration with the cities of Beloit and Janesville and Rock County.

It provides a free, mobile-friendly platform that connects people to volunteer opportunities in Rock County and Winnebago County, Illinois, said Mary Fanning-Penny, president and CEO.

To access it, visit liveunitedbr.org, she said.

Users can search volunteer opportunities by agency, by organization or by keywords that focus on their volunteer interests, Fanning-Penny said.

Get Connected also provides measurement and analytical information for agencies and volunteers.

For example, high school students looking for community hours can track their volunteerism, she said.

There is even a mobile check app--almost like a time clock on your cell phone--where users can check into and out of an agency when the volunteer's time is recorded, Fanning-Penny said.

Get Connected will also produce a volunteer resume, can create a volunteer profile so the person can receive alerts about volunteer work they are passionate about and can help mobilize people in the event of a natural disaster or crisis, she said.

“We can send an alert to all registered volunteer users to let them know sand bagging, for example, is taking place at whatever time and location. It's really a phenomenal community resource and not just for United Way partner agencies,” Fanning-Penny said.

A library and the public sector that may have a need for volunteers to serve on citizen committees can use it, too. Get Connected went live Wednesday, she said.

The program cost $4,000 and each of the groups involved in the collaboration kicked in $1,000 to pay for it, Mary Fanning-Penny said.

“Additional in-kind management and maintenance will be provided by United Way,” she said.

United Way took the lead of organizing and launching Get Connected to fill a void for individuals to give, advocate and volunteer, Fanning-Penny said.

The Volunteer Network ceased operation when North Rock County and Stateline United Ways merged to become Blackhawk Region in 2012 and Voluntary Action Center, Beloit, dissolved earlier this year, she said.

“We wanted to ensure this kind of connectivity would still be available in our community and thought it (Get Connected) was a great fit since volunteerism is part of our call to action,” Fanning-Penny said.

Local business leaders championing this year's campaign collectively own the Beloit, Janesville and Newville Culver's restaurants and The Rock Bar and Grill in Beloit.

Jim Agate, Bill and Linda Lock, and Ron and Barb Mallon exemplify what it means to take pride in their communities and embrace the responsibility of leadership by generously giving back. In addition to their long-time support of United Way, their philanthropy includes Scoopie nights, Thank a Farmer, Vets Roll events, youth scholarships and volunteering, she said.

On Monday, all Rock County Culver's will host Scoopin' for United Way and the Rock Bar and Grill will host Rockin for United Way when 10 percent of sales at all five locations will be donated to the local United Way campaign.

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