Shining a big 'United' light

United Way celebrates a year of impact


Posted 3/7/18

The United Way of the Ocoee Region celebrated successes and strides made in the community during its annual meeting and awards banquet Tuesday night. The event was held at Life Care Center’s Professional Development Center.

This item is available in full to subscribers

Shining a big 'United' light

United Way celebrates a year of impact


United Way of the Ocoee Region celebrated successes and strides made in the community during its annual meeting and awards banquet Tuesday night.

The event was held at Life Care Center’s Professional Development Center.

"It's about you," United Way President and CEO Matt Ryerson told the audience at the meeting. "It's about celebrating the past year — and it's been an exciting year."

Jaynese Waddell, director of Community Impact, presented an overview of the United Way's impact. In 2017, she said the lives of 39,136 in the area were touched by collective donations; 757 people had a roof over their head in 2017 thanks to United Way; and 327 people have the opportunity to make a better life through career development and financial literacy programs provided through United Way. In addition, the United Way facilitated numerous connections and meetings about needs in the community.

Waddell shared the story of Mary, a woman who benefited from the services of Karis Dental Clinic following neglected dental hygiene that resulted in missing teeth. People often mistakenly assumed Mary had lost her teeth due to drug use, making it difficult for her to find a job. Fortunately, she found help at Karis Dental Clinic.

“Now that I have my dentures, my life has changed dramatically!" Waddell read from Mary's story. "My whole attitude has changed toward life."

Waddell said the United Way's goal is to move the entire community forward.

"We are all in this together," she told the audience. "Without you, we literally couldn't Live United."

Erika Moore, a member of the United Way’s board of directors, said $2.1 million was raised in the 2017 campaign through more than 200 community campaigns and more than 4,000 donors.

"You brought together $2.1 million to make our community a better place," Moore said.

She added that volunteers determine where donor dollars are spent and program partners have specialties "but people's needs don't have one solution.”

"Thank you for giving," Moore said.

United Way boar Chairman Matt Jenne thanked the board for entrusting him with a leadership role.

“The last two years have truly been a wonderful experience for me,” Jenne said, adding the United Way has accomplished wonderful things during that time which have allowed the organization to improve in its mission.

“I just want to say thank you for what you do,” Jenne said. board

During the meeting, Jenne passed the board chairman’s gavel to Mike Griffin, who thanked Jenne for his leadership “and everything you’ve done.” Griffin said he moved to Cleveland six years ago and two weeks later was visited by United Way representatives asking him to serve on the board.

“It really did introduce me to the community,” Griffin said.

He also spoke about the United Way celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, saying “it’s amazing all the accomplishments this organization has accomplished in 80 years.” Griffin added that no matter how hard they work and how much money they raise “these problems don’t go away … so we have to keep fighting. We have to work together as a team.”

Service Award

The William F. Johnson United Way Service Award was presented to Taylor Howard by United Way's Chief Financial Officer Tanya Mazzolini. Howard is senior vice president of lending at Athens Federal Community Bank and received the United Way's "Campaign MVP Award" in 2013. A resident of Cleveland for more than 70 years, Howard began his banking career in 1972.

"He has been highly involved in the community by serving on boards such as the Cleveland Boys Club, Cleveland Lions Club, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the United Way's board of directors," Mazzolini said. "He and his wife, Gayle, are active members of Broad Street United Methodist Church."

"My credit all goes to Matt and his staff" as well as the board of directors, partner agencies and others, Howard said. He also thanked his employer "for the time they give me with the United Way" and thanked all those in attendance for all they've done to support the United Way.

Nonprofit Leadership Award

The Colonel James Tucker Nonprofit Leadership Award was presented to Randy Bonner by last year's honoree, Teresa Grant, executive director of The HOPE Center.

"This person epitomizes the servant leadership qualities named for Col. Jim Tucker," Grant said, adding Bonner was instrumental in the disaster relief efforts following the 2011 Bradley County tornadoes as well as the 2016 Polk County tornado.

"This person was always available to share much-needed resources with those affected or get them connected to a group that could help with the cleanup and repair efforts," Grant said.

Since 2001, Bonner has been the ministry evangelism director of CrossNet Baptist Network, formerly known as Bradley Baptist Association. He has served as a missionary with the North American Mission board and works each year to mobilize more than 2,000 volunteers through the Ocoee Outreach program, Disaster Relief Projects, Project Helping Hands, Send DC, and more.

Bonner and his wife, Julie, are parents to son Josiah and daughter Cassie.

"It is an honor to be considered somebody else's success," Bonner said, adding he loves the United Way. "Thank you for this."

Woman of Impact Award

The Charlotte Thorogood Woman of Impact Award was presented to Cindy Slater, human resources manager at Whirlpool Corporation. Slater started on the production line at Whirlpool and worked her way up to her current position.

“She has had an outstanding career, but she is also an outstanding person,” said award presenter Ashlan Morelock, United Way’s director of Donor Engagement. “She has sat as a member of our board, worked on allocation panels, and catapulted United Way’s Day of Action into an ‘all in’ community rally.”

Morelock said Slater has “always advocated for those that felt like they had no voice” and is one of the United Way’s biggest cheerleaders, and that “translates from her annual giving, to her ‘roll up her sleeves and get the job done’ attitude.”

Slater said she is humbled by the award and is looking forward to continuing to work with United Way in the future.

"I consider it a pleasure to have worked with the United Way for the past twenty-something years," Slater said, adding it is also a pleasure to work on Whirlpool's United Way campaign.

Also during the meeting, United Way Superlatives were presented with "Flippin' Love You" awards for the impact they have made by "being flippin' awesome,” Director of Corporate Engagement Candice Natola said. The following individuals received "throwback" United Way T-shirts with the 1980s rainbow design and spatulas (for flippin'):

• Rookie of the Year Award – Dr. Madison Torrence

• Simply the Best Award – Tina Turner

• Golden Sneaker Award – Lee McChesney

• Winnie-the-Pooh Award – Bruce Bradford

• Baking Superstar Award – Rissa Goodman

• Most Interesting Man in the World Award – Cesar Escarcega

• Party For a Cause Award – Nicole Carter

• Most Reliable Award – Catherine Rice

• Tim Henderson

• Michelle Stokes

• Audra Iannarone

• Allen Mincey

• The family of board of directors Chairman Matt Jenne

Ryerson also introduced two new Board members: Bill Martin with First Tennessee Bank and Jenice Saint with Life Care Centers of America.

“We want to thank you,” Ryerson said in concluding the meeting. “Thank you for all you do.”


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment


Print subscribers have FREE access to by registering HERE

Non-subscribers have limited monthly access to local stories, but have options to subscribe to print, web or electronic editions by clicking HERE

We are sorry but you have reached the maximum number of free local stories for this month. If you have a website account here, please click HERE to log in for continued access.

If you are a print subscriber but do not have an account here, click HERE to create a website account to gain unlimited free access.

Non-subscribers may gain access by subscribing to any of our print or electronic subscriptions HERE