On April 24, United Way of Midland County will host the ninth annual Spirit of the Community celebration at the Great Hall in Midland. Spirit of the Community honors the many ways that individuals and organizations are lending their time, talent, voices and hearts to create a better and stronger community. Those who wish to celebrate with this year’s award honorees can purchase tickets at www.unitedwaymidland.org.

“Spirit of the Community is a celebration of those who work tirelessly to make a positive impact throughout Midland County,” shared Ann Fillmore, Executive Director of United Way of Midland County. “We are blessed with a compassionate and generous community, and it is an honor to shine a light on the work of the many individuals and organizations that are dedicated to changing lives.”


2018 Charles J. Strosacker Award
Sheleigh Nicolai (West Midland Family Center)
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 Liaison, 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.

2018 Heart of the Community Award
Mary Adams (Midland Special Olympics)
This award recognizes a group or an individual who has demonstrated a passion for serving our community through volunteering. Mary Adams started volunteering for the Midland Special Olympics in 1980 and became the Midland County Area Director in 1986. Under her leadership, Midland Special Olympics expanded from 3 sports to 14 —giving 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.

2018 Shining Star Award
Andrea Krotzer (Bullock Creek School District)
This award honors an individual 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 Krotzer 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.

2018 Torch Bearer Award
Paul Schroll (Midland Public Schools)
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, where he partnered with United Way to pilot a summer reading program to help achieve grade-level reading for students.

2018 Young Leader Award
Vaughn Lakatos (Trinseo)
This award recognizes a member of United Way’s Young Leaders United who encourages the spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism. Vaughn Lakatos 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.

2018 Outstanding Student Award
Allison Gray (Midland High School) Hunter Merrilat (Meridian High School)
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. He was also named captain of the football and baseball teams due to his leadership and positivity.

2018 Outstanding Community Collaboration Award
Long Term Disaster Recovery Group
This award recognizes individuals and/or organizations that live and work United and collaborate for the greater good. These individuals or 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 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
We will also be recognizing our 2018 Companies That Care at Spirit of the Community. 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, Fisher Contracting Company, Garber Chevrolet, Gavin & Associates, LLC, Great Lakes Loons, Horizon Bank, 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, Trinseo and Yeo & Yeo. Three Rivers Corporation has the distinct honor of being selected as the 2018 Caring Company of the Year as the standout organization for giving, advocating and volunteering in the community.

United Way invites everyone to join in honoring the incredible people and organizations who are impacting our community. The event will be held at the Great Hall on April 24 and tickets are $30 each or a table of 10 for $300. To reserve your seat, visit www.unitedwaymidland.org or call United Way at (989) 631-3670.