Elyria, Ohio – United Way of Greater Lorain County hosted its annual Celebration of Community Impact event on Thursday, June 20 at Lorain County Community College’s Spitzer Conference Center. More than 175 supporters, partners, and community members gathered to celebrate the organization’s achievements in health, education, and financial stability over the past year.

Tim Alcorn, the radio voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers, served as the master of ceremonies. Alcorn opened the event by thanking the sponsors, including Ross Environmental Services, Huntington Bank, Avient Corporation, Community West Foundation, Dawn Dailey, CPA, First Federal Savings of Lorain, Sarringhaus & Scott Co., LPA, Score Cleveland, and Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity.

Ryan Aroney, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Lorain County, delivered opening remarks emphasizing the organization’s collective impact approach.

“Our model uniquely addresses the challenges of Greater Lorain County by providing high-quality programs, wrap-around services, and systems change to tackle the root causes of complex community issues that promote long-term, sustainable solutions,” Aroney said. Aroney’s remarks highlighted key services powered by United Way, like 211 First Call for Help and the United Community Assistance Network (UCAN) Community Collaborative and praised the community’s support.

“Our work is only possible with the support of our donors, volunteers, and collaborative partners,” Aroney said. “Today is about celebrating our life-changing impact, and none of it would be possible without your support.”

United Way has made significant strides in various areas over the past year, including distributing school supplies to local districts, installing Little Free Libraries, and responding to historic community flooding. Other notable activities include providing child literacy kits, facilitating leadership training, hosting community events, and running successful health and wellness initiatives. The organization prepared nearly 1,800 tax returns through their free tax prep initiative, helped to enroll local children in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and more. These efforts underscore United Way’s commitment to addressing both immediate needs and the root causes of community challenges.

Christine Matusik-Plas, community impact director at United Way of Greater Lorain County, discussed the critical role of the 211 First Call for Help service.

“211 is a free, 24-hour information and referral hotline that confidentially connects individuals in need to resources that help. This service is important for two reasons. First, it is the gateway to critical services, and second, we can monitor the data in real time based on real people’s call requests and web searches and use that data to inform our work moving forward,” said Matusik-Plas.

The event featured a panel discussion moderated by Lynn Wrice-Head, program associate at the Community Foundation of Lorain County, focusing on the UCAN Community Collaborative. Panelists included Rebecca Haywood of Neighborhood Alliance, Shean Bolton of the Salvation Army, Margie Flood of Oberlin Community Services, Nicolle Bellmore Pierse of Lorain County Office on Aging, Tim Wright of Catholic Charities, and Melanie Shakarian of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Wrice-Head emphasized the importance of how UCAN has redesigned the social service system to address the financial stability of residents.

“UCAN provides emergency financial assistance, advocacy, and legal support for hardworking households and seniors in our community. Our collective goal is to help families achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency, reducing the need for repeated assistance,” Wrice-Head said.

In closing, Aroney reflected on the year’s achievements and shared his optimism for the future.

“We are committed to providing high-quality, data-driven programming and wrap-around support. We aim to not only offer immediate assistance but to create lasting change by addressing the root causes of financial instability and hardship. Together, we can make Greater Lorain County a thriving community for every resident,” he said.

For more information on United Way of Greater Lorain County and its initiatives, visit uwloraincounty.org or call 440-277-6530.

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United Way of Greater Lorain County leads community-wide innovation to tackle problems that most people say can’t be solved. In unforgiving cities, overlooked townships, and seemingly docile suburbs. We find every dollar we can to address them. But we are more than the fundraisers. United Way brings together over 150 organizations to power 10 Community Collaboratives. Together, we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of low-income working families who need our help in Greater Lorain County. We have one life. To live better, we must Live United. Learn more at uwloraincounty.org or by calling 440-277-6530.