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When two become one at the United Way

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Shelly Birkelo
July 18, 2012

— The merger of Stateline United Way and United Way of North Rock County is official.

Effective July 26, the newly formed organization will become United Way of Blackhawk Region. Members and boards of directors of both groups approved the merger, which eliminates three jobs.

The organization will improve efficiency and save money by consolidating positions, said Steve Kinkade, president of Stateline United Way, who will become president of the consolidated group.

Kinkade brings 40 years of United Way leadership to the new organization that looks to provide continuity for program partners and donors.

Ron Ochs, president of United Way of North Rock County, will be involved in the transition through most of 2012, Kinkade said.

Ideally, the consolidation will result in more giving because corporate donors from southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois won't have to divide their contributions, Kinkade said.

Offices in Beloit and Janesville will remain open to serve the people and communities of United Way Blackhawk Region, said Kinkade, who will have offices in both cities.

Some programs have been streamlined and re-engineered to operate more efficiently, he said.

For example, United Way's First Call program is being integrated into the 2-1-1 Wisconsin system, and its coordinator, Barb Wien, was let go July 13.

First Call was available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week, while the statewide 2-1-1 system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Kinkade said.

People who call First Call will be directed to Mercy Healthy System's call center as an interim solution until the transition to 2-1-1 is complete Monday, July 23, he said.

Other changes include discontinuing the Volunteer Network, which recruited and referred volunteers to nonprofit agencies in north Rock County. Coordinator Julie Cunningham was let go Friday, July 13.

"We're going to use the Voluntary Action Center and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program," Kinkade said.

The fund distribution also will be streamlined, said Kinkade, who will assume responsibilities previously handled by Janine Peterson, vice president of United Way of North Rock County. Her last day also was July 13.

Cutting three positions was not done lightly, Kinkade said.

More behind-the-scenes activities include organizing the phone, computer and accounting systems.

Both local United Ways announced in January that their boards of directors had approved resolutions enabling them to pursue consolidation. The executive committees of the boards worked together to finalize the plan, Kinkade said.

Joint work groups representing governance, organizational functions, fund distribution, campaign, and policy and procedure met to review current policies of each United Way and determine best practices. A business plan and merger agreement was then submitted to the boards for final approval, Kinkade said.

For many years, both local United Ways shared goals but worked toward them separately, Kinkade said.

"I am confident this unified organization will strengthen and better serve our communities,'' he said.

Janesville's Dan Piche, who is president of Mule-Hide Products of Beloit, will be board chairman of United Way Blackhawk Region.

David Cullen will again serve as co-chair of the fund-raising campaign.

Parallel 2012 campaigns are under way and will kick off in the fall as usual.

All allocation and funding commitments that have been made, including United Way of North Rock County's 2012-13 grant cycle allocations, will be honored. Distribution of money will remain as always with local volunteers serving as stewards who will determine the best use of donor dollars based on community needs and results.



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