On April 9th, United Way brought over 460 community members together for the sixth 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 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.

The first award of the night was the Torch Bearer, which recognizes a United Way campaign volunteer who truly lights the way. This year’s honoree was Joe Sova from the City of Midland. He was recognized for ensuring that all employees of the City of Midland feel the connection between their investment and the real improvements taking place in people’s lives utilizing numerous kick-off events, agency presentations, staff meetings and motivational incentives.

The Torch Bearer Legacy award was presented to two true community role models, Dave and Patti Kepler. The Keplers are silent heroes in our community, known for their generous support of their church and non-profits throughout the region. Nearly 10 years ago, Dave created the Dow President’s Circle and now chairs the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. Under his leadership, membership grew by 32%.

Kevin Kendrick was this year’s Heart of the Community honoree. As Corporate Vice President of Global Security at Dow Corning, Kevin is a humble leader. Everything Kevin does, he gives 110%, whether it’s serving as a Trustee of the Midland Area Community Foundation or co-founding the “Big Give” men’s giving circle.

In a special tribute, Reverend Wally Mayton was presented with the Heart of the Community Legacy award for his incredible love of the Midland community.

“Wally epitomizes everything that makes Midland special–compassion and care for others, willingness to get involved and a genuine desire to help others,” shared emcee Sid Allen.

The Young Leader Award celebrates those in their 20s and 30s who demonstrate a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism. This year’s recipient was Michael Rogers from Chemical Bank. Michael is a founding member and first chairman of the Executive Council of Young Leaders United. He is very involved with multiple non-profit agencies and volunteers his time and his skills to make our community a better place to live.

Kim Baczewski from the Strosacker Foundation had the honor of presenting The Charles J. Strosacker Award to Greg Dorrien, the Executive Director of West Midland Family Center.

“Greg’s passion for local children and families serves as his compass,” shared Sid. “He fosters an atmosphere of non-judgmental learning, creating a refuge that promotes human dignity, safety and well-being for children, their families and our area seniors.”

The Great Start Collaborative was honored with the Shining Star Award. This award celebrates a group that shines bright in our community, as a visible symbol of caring and compassion through advocacy. The Great Start Collaborative works to ensure that every child in Midland County is safe, healthy and eager to succeed in school and life. They lead by example and provide a platform from which the entire community can become involved.

“What an incredible evening this has been,” shared Sid. “We have been touched by the stories of our award winner’s tonight–they truly serve as an example and inspiration to us all.”