As the saying goes: “Work smarter, not harder.”

That’s been our strategy here at United Way when determining how and where to invest funds and resources in order to create the most measurable community impact.

Our mission is to unite the community to improve lives—that is our north star. We view ourselves as one of the key connectors. Whether we are linking volunteers with opportunities, donors with community impact, agencies with sustainable program funding and capacity building, convening around key human services issues or investing in innovative solutions–collaboration is in our DNA.

As we move forward in 2021, I want to paint the picture of how United Way has, and will continue to be, a connector in the community and a responsible steward of your gift. We do not create this impact alone and we never lose sight of whose dollars we are investing.

Leveraging Dollars

The flood and pandemic have widened gaps and increased needs like never before.

Last fall, we announced historic campaign results totaling over $5,034,114, which provides sustainable program funding aligned with our communities most pressing issues. These vital services are the backbone for meeting the growing needs of our community.

In addition, we launched the Rise Together Fund: a fund dedicated to meet the immediate challenges from the 2020 flooding and prepare for the long-term needs of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

Our community lived its legacy of support, especially in times of high need. People like you joined with other individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations to raise an additional $3,941,309.

Being smart stewards of that investment is our priority. United Way has already invested $2.1 million to support flood survivors and their rebuilding efforts to date. But our work is far from over.

On July 15th, our region received the Federal Disaster Declaration, which made resources from FEMA available to thousands of people impacted by the 2020 dam failures. To date, over $48 million in federal dollars has been invested in Midland County alone through direct funds, rental assistance and low-interest SBA loans. These are dollars that we don’t need to raise or invest locally.

Leveraging In-kind Donations

Success lies in how we leverage and stretch resources. We are honored to provide leadership to the Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group: a collaborative group leading recovery and rebuild efforts. Made up of a broad representation of philanthropy organizations, nonprofits, businesses, government, faith community, civic groups and schools, they are working together to chart a path forward.

As part of the Long-Term strategy, our team is working to ensure that all avenues of support have been explored and applied. This includes over $3 million of in-kind donations that have been coordinated and distributed to date, items like: food, water, household goods, muck-out kits along with construction materials like siding, drywall, insulation and more.

Collaboration is Key

During the early months of the pandemic, United Way and the Midland Area Community Foundation joined together to host a single Covid-19 Relief Fund and nonprofit grant process along with launching the Relief Midland site. Together, we’ve invested over $370,000 into nonprofit grants to keep agencies afloat and meet the increased demands.

When the dams broke, Team Dow worked alongside United Way to turn their hanger into an in-kind distribution hub, supporting over eight local distribution centers. Other corporations, nonprofit partners, foundations and individuals joined in to ensure needed items were accessible for months.

Recognizing another immediate need, United Way partnered with Home to Stay to provide short-term rental assistance and water restoration grants. To date, we have invested nearly $350,000 to help families remain in their homes and/or have a safe place to live as their homes are repaired.

We’ve also partnered with Whirlpool to host two discount appliance sales, saving local families over $500,000. The added benefit was having appliances in stock for immediate pick-up or delivery.

We’re stronger together. One great example is the United Way and Habitat for Humanity partnership. Building on a shared mission and vision, we are leveraging our strengths to help some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Two major home restorations are complete, with others in the pipeline.

The Long-Term Disaster Recovery Group is another example of collaboration in action. The group anticipates that the rebuild and restoration efforts will continue for at least another 18 months. Because of the leveraged approach we continue to stretch our local dollars to have the biggest impact.

Another key resource that creates impact? Volunteers.

Since the flood, over 5,681 volunteers have invested over 27,000 hours to support flood recovery. The value of their time is over $742,000. In addition, over 1,200 volunteers invested over 3,500 hours during the early days of the pandemic. All of this without a single reportable Covid-19 exposure.


I feel so humbled to be a witness to the generous hearts and hand raisers who show up when our neighbors need it most.  Our priority is to be a strategic partner. We don’t want to just make a dent. We want to make intentional, lasting impact.

As Midland County continues to meet our challenges head on, I promise that United Way will continue to make it a priority to make smart, intentional decisions that create measurable impact.

We are so grateful to have you on this journey with us. Thank you.