Spirit of the Community

Mark your calendars for the ninth annual Spirit of the Community Awards celebration to be held on April 24 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The Great Hall. This exciting event honors the many ways that individuals and organizations are lending their time, talents, voices and hearts to create a better and stronger community.

Spirit of the Community registration is open now! Tickets are $30 each or $300 for a table of ten. Click here to register, and call 989.631.3670 if you have any questions.

2018 Spirit of the Community Honorees

Sheleigh Nicolai
2018 Charles J. Strosacker Award
This award recognizes an individual from a United Way partner agency for their contribution and leadership in promoting the well-being of others. As a Family Liasion, Sheleigh works hard to get to know and understand the families she works with and then connects them to the network of West Midland Family Center services to fully meet their needs. Sheleigh is a lifelong member of the community and leads by example through her service each and every day.

Mary Adams
2018 Heart of the Community Award
This award recognizes a group or an individual who has demonstrated a passion for serving our community through volunteering. Mary started volunteering for the Midland Special Olympics in 1980 and became the Midland County Area Director in 1986. Under her leadership, Mary helped Midland Special Olympics expand from 3 sports to 14 to give these athletes a venue that they would not have otherwise. While she still actively volunteers with Special Olympics, Mary recently retired as Area Director. She has touched countless lives and is seen as a second mother to many of the kids that she serves.

Andrea Krotzer (Bullock Creek School District)
2018 Shining Star Award

This award honors either an individual or group that is advocating to improve lives and conditions of those in need. In addition to her work at Floyd Elementary and the Bullock Creek School District, Andrea has been involved with community gardens, a clothing closet, Little Free Libraries, Little Free Pantries, volunteer projects through her church, and much more. She also recently completed a state-accredited course on Community Health Work, making her one of the only individuals in the area who can equip others to recognize and help fulfill community needs.

Paul Schroll (Midland Public Schools)
2018 Torch Bearer Award
This award honors a United Way of Midland County campaign volunteer who demonstrates a true passion for sharing the Live United message. Currently the Principal at Siebert Elementary, Paul Schroll has worked for Midland Public Schools for 18 years. Paul has said that his administrative style “demonstrates dedication to fostering a positive learning environment for all students while maximizing individual performance.” Paul is also the Midland Public Schools United Way Coordinator, and he partnered with United Way to pilot a summer reading program to help achieve grade-level reading for students.

Vaughn Lakatos

2018 Young Leader Award
This award recognizes a member of United Way’s Young Leaders United who encourages the spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism. Vaughn is a very active volunteer and current Outreach Chair for Young Leaders United. Vaughn has helped create and launch a messaging plan that has grown the number of Young Leaders in the last year. She leads by example and inspires the next generation of Young Leaders to get involved by including her young son in volunteer activities.

Allison Gray (Midland High School)
Hunter Merillat (Meridian High School)
2018 Outstanding Student Award

This award recognizes a local student who lives united and encourages the spirit of volunteerism within their school and community.

Allison Gray has been an extremely active volunteer, working with organizations such as Shelterhouse, Midland’s Open Door, Emergency Food Pantry Network, and more. She also organized a book drive that collected over 4,000 books for Little Free Libraries throughout the community. In addition to her volunteer work, she is an honor student, a member of Student Leadership and a member of the Outreach team at Blessed Sacrament Church.

Hunter Merillat has been referred to as a role model student, athlete and all around good person. He has been involved with programs such as the Sanford Youth League Challenger’s Program, peer mentoring at Meridian Jr. High and High School, Adopt-A-Family, National Honor Society, Fellowship for Christian Athlete, Student Council and more.

Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group
2018 Outstanding Community Collaboration Award

This award recognizes individuals and/or organizations that live and work United and collaborate for the greater good. These individuals/organizations encourage the spirit of collaboration within their organizations and community. When our community was hit hard by flooding this past summer, the county’s Emergency Management Department drew together government agencies, non-profits, law enforcement, donors, and volunteers from the general public to address immediate issues and initiate the long-term recovery process. As Midland continues to work through the long-term recovery process, more and more families are discovering the long-term impact of last summer’s flood. The Long-Term Disaster Recovery has been determined to continue their work to support and advocate on behalf of those in need. Tony Lasher from the American Red Cross of East Central Bay – Michigan will accept this award on behalf of the entire Long Term Disaster Recovery Group.

2018 Companies That Care
Companies That Care are characterized not only by the financial commitment they and their employees make, but the impact they have through advocacy and volunteerism. This year, United Way is honoring 27 organizations: AptarGroup, Ayre/Rhinehart Realtors, Bolger + Battle, Chemical Bank, City of Midland, County of Midland, Deloitte, Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union, Ernst & Young, Horizon Bank (Wolverine Bank), Fisher Contracting Company, Garber Chevrolet, Gavin & Associates, LLC, Great Lakes Loons, Ieuter Insurance Group, McKay Press, Meijer Inc Store #108, Members First Credit Union, Midland Cogeneration Venture, Midland Daily News, MidMichigan Health, Midland Public Schools, Northwood University, The Dow Chemical Company, Three Rivers Corporation (Caring Company of the Year), Trinseo and Yeo & Yeo.

Three Rivers Corporation
2018 Caring Company of the Year

The Caring Company of the year is a stand-out organization that gives, advocates and volunteers throughout the community. Three Rivers Corporation has been selected as this year’s Caring Company of the Year.

Special thanks to our 2018 Spirit of the Community Sponsors

Premier Event Sponsors


Leadership Circle Reception Sponsor


Volunteer Awards Sponsor


Outstanding Young Leader Award Sponsor



Outstanding Student Award Sponsor