On Tuesday, April 23, United Way of Midland County honored dozens of individuals, groups and organizations that lend their time, talent, voices and hearts at the tenth annual Spirit of the Community celebration. Over 350 attendees had the opportunity to experience firsthand how these honorees are working to make a difference each and every day.

“Ten years ago, we envisioned an event that would celebrate our care for each other—an evening where we can pause to recognize the amazing culture we’ve inherited and the incredible ways that legacy lives on,” shared Holly Miller, Executive Director at United Way of Midland County. “The problems in life can be overwhelming, and we can struggle to understand how one person can make a difference. At Spirit of the Community, we celebrate the many individuals, groups and organizations who made a difference for that one.”

Thom Pepe and Mike Williams were honored with the Torch Bearer Award, which recognizes campaign volunteers who light the way and demonstrate a passion for sharing the Live United message. Thom and Mike lead fundraising efforts in one of the campaigns largest and most diverse divisions, and they use their relationship-building to bring the generous heart of our small businesses to life—often in innovative and creative ways.

Teresa George was named the 2019 Heart of the Community award honoree. Teresa was celebrated for her passion for helping neighbors, no matter what they might be struggling with, and for actively bringing the next generation into the world of service through her role at Midland Academy.

Celebrating those in their 20s and 30s who demonstrate a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism, the Young Leader award went to Jen Lee from Three Rivers Corporation. Jen has been described as a “hand-raiser who is always one of the first volunteers to step up whenever there’s a need in the community.”

This year, United Way was delighted to honor two local students with the Outstanding Student award. A junior at Midland High School, Jacob May was recognized for volunteering at The Rock and the Midland County Youth Action Council, and also for launching a new Ultimate Frisbee club. Nathan Johnson, a senior at Northwood University, was also honored. Under his leadership as President of Northwood University’s Student United Way group, Northwood’s Go MAD Day was honored with United Way Worldwide’s Event of the Year award as well as the NCAA Division II Award of Excellence.

Ann Fillmore, former Executive Director of United Way of Midland County, was honored with the 2019 Charles J. Strosacker award. Celebrating her 12 years of leadership at United Way, Jerry Ladwig shared “Ann’s service to the Midland Community has been nothing short of stellar. Her ability to lead, galvanize and encourage collaboration are exemplary. Ann’s extraordinary success comes from her ability to build true relationships.”

Dr. Amy Beasley and Karl Huebert were honored with the 2019 Shining Star award. As its name implies, this award celebrates those who shine brightly in the community as a visible symbol of caring and compassion through advocacy. Through her role as North American Inclusion Leader at Dow and her role on the Shelterhouse board, Dr. Amy Beasley embodies the acceptance necessary to promote inclusion in our community. Karl Huebert has been described as a true advocate for children through his work as a “Big Brother” and as Board President at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Karl and his wife also share their passion for Muay Thai boxing with local kids, providing a disciplined outlet for built-up anger.

“Our voices and our actions matter. We matter,” shared Dr. Amy Beasley. “I know that together, we can make Midland not just a great place to live for some, but a great place to live and love for all.”

Midland High School’s Drama Club was honored with the Outstanding Community Collaboration award for creating a peer-to-peer group called Scene Partners. This group reached out to students with disabilities to provide them with opportunities to get involved and to be a part of something. The program has fostered inclusion created lasting friendships—benefiting everyone involved.

“These students are making their school and community a better place for all of its members, and this award confirms what I have suspected all along: The community is in good hands,” stated Megan Applegate, Director of the Midland High School Drama Club.

United Way also celebrated the incredible impact of local corporations and businesses, both large and small, through the “Companies That Care” awards. These organizations are characterized not only by the financial commitment they make with their employees, but the impact they have through advocacy and volunteerism. 25 local organizations were honored, including AptarGroup, Ayre-Rhinehart Realtors, Bolger + Battle, Chemical Bank, City of Midland, County of Midland, Deloitte, Dow, Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union, Ernst & Young, Fisher Companies, Gavin & Associates, Great Lakes Loons, Horizon Bank, Ieuter Insurance Group, McKay Press, Members First Credit Union, Midland Cogeneration Venture, Midland Public Schools, MidMichigan Health, Northwood University, Sym Financial Advisors, Three Rivers Corporation, Trinseo and Yeo & Yeo CPAs & Business Consultants.

Ieuter Insurance Group was awarded the 2019 Caring Company of the Year award. With the philosophy that everyone can make a difference, the spirit of generosity is deeply ingrained in the culture at Ieuter Insurance Group.

The 2019 Spirit of the Community celebration was generously sponsored by Dow, Chemical Bank and Trinseo. Awards were sponsored by Yeo & Yeo CPAs & Business Consultants, Northwood University, Deloitte and The Charles J. Strosacker Foundation.