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United Way sets fundraising record, unveils annual award winners

Several awards were handed out Thursday, March 31, at the Armory Events Center in Moorhead as the United Way of Cass Clay celebrated a record-setting year.

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Karla Isley, president and CEO of United Way of Cass-Clay, left and Christie Lewandoski, Director of Resource Development for United Way of Cass-Clay kick off the United Way Community Celebration and Annual Meeting at the Armory Event Center in Moorhead on Thurs. March 31.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — The United Way of Cass Clay announced Thursday, March 31, that it set a new fundraising record, raising more in the past year than ever in its history.

The announcement was made at the United Way’s Community Celebration and Annual Meeting, which took place at the Armory Events Center in Moorhead.

Also on Thursday, the United Way presented several awards and unveiled their list of the metro area’s top 50 most generous workplaces and top 25 most engaged workplaces.

“It is an opportunity for us to celebrate the amazing individuals and companies that give back to their community and live united,” Christie Lewandoski, United Way’s Director of Resource Development, told The Forum. “Whether those are donations, time or volunteering, it’s all about celebrating those key individuals and donors.”

Reflecting on the year gone by, Lewandoski said the United Way saw the power of collective efforts first hand. Headwinds in the past year included the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19 as well as ongoing economic challenges in the area.

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Volunteers and donors recognized these issues and stepped up, Lewandoski said. “When our community comes together, we can do so much more than anyone can do alone. I think that’s the biggest lesson we’ve learned,” she said. “When we think about making that crucial difference in the community and achieving our goals of lifting families out of poverty, it takes the entire community to come together.”

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Attendees at the United Way Community Celebration and Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 31 at the Armory Event Center in Moorhead.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Karli Isley, the president and CEO of United Way, said she’s witnessed the care that goes into allocating funds and the impact they’ve had.“As a donor and as a volunteer, I always trusted United Way,” she told the audience Thursday. “But now, having a front-row seat, I am amazed each and every day of the thoughtfulness, the depth and care that goes into how every single dollar is invested in our community.”

In the coming year, the United Way’s focus will continue to be on lifting families out of poverty, Lewandoski said. Specifically, United Way plans to use a “community-wide” view to understand the issue and show people how they can make an impact.

On Thursday, the United Way highlighted one of the programs aimed at making a difference: their "home for good" baskets. The baskets provide household essentials for homeless individuals and families moving into a new home.

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United Way Vice President of Community Impact Thomas Hill and Director of Community Engagement Tiffany McShane pack up a donation basket for families transitioning out of homelessness on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, at United Way of Cass-Clay. United Way has a goal to make the transition to a new home a little warmer for 120 individuals and families through donations. The community can give now through April 4.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

The baskets — which contain items like plates, silverware, cleaning supplies, bedding, pillows and blankets — are critical for helping families get started in their new homes, Lewandoski explained. “Oftentimes, people move out of a shelter and into a home of their very own with the bags on their back, and very little comes with them,” she said.

A home for good basket costs $250, though Isley and Lewandoski said any donation makes a difference. The United Way hopes to raise enough funds for 120 baskets, Lewandoski remarked.

“We want to create lasting change and generational change,” she said. “Home for good is just one of the many examples of how we do that.”

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Christie Lewandoski, Director of Resource Development for The United Way of Cass-Clay presents awards at the United Way Community Celebration and Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 31 at the Armory Event Center in Moorhead.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

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Awarding the community

The United Way recognized several contributors Thursday.

Scheels was unveiled as the most generous workplace, while Blue Cross Blue Shield was named the most engaged workplace.

Award winners included:

  • Border Bank received the Rising Star award, given to a company which was a first-time donor or made a tradition of donating. The company had 95% of employees donate and raised $13,000.
  • Chantelle Gosselin of Fargo Glass and Paint was given the Most Valuable Person award as the company’s employee United Way coordinator. “The passion and energy and creativity from these volunteers to inspire their team to get involved is unmatched,” Lewandoski said of the coordinators nominated.
  • Ashley Littlewolf of the Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency was given the Humble Hero award as an unsung hero in the community.
  • Lisa Maloy took home the United Way’s Change Maker award.
  • Marvin was given the Magnetic Marvel award. In the past year, the window and door manufacturer doubled its employee donations and raised the most money for United Way in company history.
  • Flint Group received the Power of Partnership award.
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Christie Lewandoski, Director of Resource Development for United Way Cass-Clay, left, presents the Most Valuable Person award to Chantelle Gosselin and the United Way Committee from Fargo Glass and Paint. The presentation took place at the United Way Community Celebration and Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 31 at the Armory Event Center in Moorhead.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Additionally, the United Way announced two new board chairs Thursday. Kelly Dawson will chair the Board of Trustees, while Sarah West of Light Consulting and Coaching will serve as the 2023 campaign chair.

To donate to United Way of Cass Clay, visit unitedwaycassclay.org or text “GIVECASSCLAY” to 85511.

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at InForum.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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