United Way’s Spirit of the Community honors local heroes.

On April 25, United Way brought nearly 400 community members together for the eighth annual Spirit of the Community Celebration. 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.

“This event celebrates Living United and honors the incredible people and organizations and the ways in which they are coming together for impact and change,” said Ann Fillmore, Executive Director of United Way of Midland County. “Community change is bigger than one person or one organization—it requires working together. That’s the heart of the Live United message.”

The first award of the night was the Torch Bearer, which recognizes United Way campaign volunteers who truly light the way. This year’s honorees were Jamie Moore and Chris Shuster from The Dow Chemical Company. Chris and Jamie served as a bellwether for success of the Dow/Dow Corning team—working together ahead of the merger to coordinate their community impact from Dow locations throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Betty Chenoweth received this year’s Heart of the Community award. Betty was honored for her 50+ years of volunteering in the community, including her service as a board member for the Midland Public Schools, the Midland branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and through a variety of volunteer initiatives at Memorial Presbyterian Church.

The Outstanding Young Leader Award celebrates those in their 20s and 30s who demonstrate a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism. This year’s recipient was Jordan Summers from Chemical Bank. In addition to his work with Young Leaders United, Jordan is also actively involved with Memorial Presbyterian Church, the Disability Network of Mid-Michigan, Midland County Bar Association and Northwood University.

New for 2017, Northwood University sponsored and presented the Outstanding Student Award to Laura Rhodes. The Outstanding Student Award recognizes a local student who “Lives United” and encourages the spirit of volunteerism within their school and community. Laura has been instrumental in the planning and coordination of several events on campus and throughout the community, and she has inspired students of all ages to get involved and make a difference in Midland County.

On behalf of the Strosacker Foundation, Kim Baczewski had the honor of presenting the Charles J. Strosacker Award to Captain Brian Goodwill of the Salvation Army Midland Corps. Captain Brian impacts countless families each year by providing meals, clothes and everyday necessities for those in need. He gives generously of his time and heart to Midland County.

Dave Vercellino was honored with the Shining Star Award. As a pastor at New Life Vineyard Church and as a community volunteer, Dave’s impact can be felt throughout Midland County. Thanks to his leadership, Dave inspired several local organizations to combine forces to form the Friends of Whispering Pines nonprofit to improve the lives of those in the Whispering Pines Mobile Home community and beyond.

“We are incredibly fortunate and privileged to live in a community filled with gifted and passionate individuals, shared event emcee Kevin Kendrick. “These individuals and their great accomplishments truly reflect the values of our community and are constantly inventing innovative ways to help the residents of our community.”

He closed the evening by sharing a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

The Spirit of the Community Celebration was generously sponsored by The Dow Chemical Company and Chemical Bank. The Leadership Circle reception was sponsored by Trinseo.

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