by Don Allison / The Bryan Times
Damian and Carolyn Dorsten see United Way as a chance to make a difference in the community.
In chairing the United Way of Williams County 2012 campaign, they look to spread the word about what United Way accomplishes, and encourage others to make their own contributions.
This year’s United Way of Williams County campaign kicked off Sept. 9 with a ceremony at the Williams County Fair, with a goal of raising $333,000 to help fund programs by 27 local agencies.
Having the kickoff ceremony at the fair was appropriate, Damian said. “It shows that it’s not just a Bryan event, but it encompasses the whole county.”
Damian said he was willing to step up as campaign chair after working with the local United Way for several years in various capacities.
“I’ve seen the results of the campaign, and the residents of Williams County benefit from the campaign,” he said. “It’s been a worthwhile process, for me to put time and energy into it.”
“For me,” Carolyn explained, “really looking at what United Way has done to give back to the community, it’s something Damian and I can do together, to show our support for northwest Ohio.”
Damian noted the United Way slogan of “Give, Advocate, Volunteer.” This year’s campaign, he said, “gives us the opportunity to volunteer and advocate for United Way.”
The Dorstens see the United Way campaign as a family affair. They are involving their children — Johnathan, 9, and Katie, 6 — in the various steps along the way.
“We have had our children participate in the parades this year,” Damian said.
“They get excited,” Carolyn said. “We get our United Way shirts on, and share what United Way is all about.”
When the children are not able to accompany them to United Way events, Damian said, he and Carolyn tell them about the activity and what it means to United Way. “They are aware,” he said. “They are learning about the United Way process, and the activities associated with United Way.”
Damian and Carolyn explain to the children that there is energy put into raising money, but raising that money is only part of the process. Once the money is raised, Damian said, the local agencies are required to apply for the money and show how it will be used to better the community, and a panel of United Way volunteers reviews the applications and allocates the funds.
Carolyn said her greatest gratification from volunteering with United Way comes “when you meet someone who has been a beneficiary of United Way.” In those cases, she said, she sees the direct impact United Way has made in a person’s life.
The couple explained that they plan to continue prior United Way campaign activities, especially the program involving local companies wishing to allow employees to contribute to United Way through payroll deductions.
Currently 30 businesses offer payroll deduction giving — and the couple are hoping even more will be willing to take part.
“If they would like to have somebody come in and talk to the employees about United Way, we have volunteers ready to do that,” Damian said.
“It is very low pressure,” he said. “It is simply a presentation on what United Way is doing.”
Also being continued this year is the United Way Caring Club. Anyone donating $120 or more to the campaign receives a Caring Club card entitling them to discounts, buy-one get-one offers or other benefits at participating Williams County businesses. Currently 28 businesses participate.
Damian said this program rewards United Way contributors, and helps local businesses by encouraging Caring Club members to shop in Williams County.
Leadership Giving is another continuing part of the United Way campaign, with Rob and Ann Vogelsong as chairmen. Leadership Giving recognizes individuals and couples who donate $500 or more to the campaign.
Damian said he is impressed with the commitment shown by the United Way office and volunteers. “I find the administration and attention to detail, and the commitment of the Williams County United Way to be at a very high level,” he said.
“There is a tremendous amount of philanthropy in Williams County, and we have to be very greatful for that.”
Carolyn said she would like to thank the community for the continued support shown for United Way.
“We want to continue to grow, and excel at what we do,” she said, “and we couldn’t do it without the willingness to participate, and to donate.”
“We probably can’t thank the community enough,” Damian noted.