On May 17th, United Way brought nearly 350 community members together for the seventh 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 a United Way campaign volunteer who truly lights the way. This year’s honoree was Bridgette Gransden from the County of Midland. She was recognized for creating and leading a team that brought the Live United message to life. She ensures that all employees at the County of Midland connect with United Way in fun and creative ways throughout the campaign and the year.

Kathy Dolan received this year’s Heart of the Community award. She was celebrated for providing innovative ways to include individuals with disabilities in our community. She created The Arc’s Community Safety class and collaborated with Creative 360 to launch Artshop, helping people with disabilities lead lives they never thought possible.

In a special tribute, Jack Telfer was presented with the Heart of the Community Legacy award for his incredible impact in the Midland community.

“Tonight, we honor a man who gives his whole heart to our community, through his tireless commitment as a community impact champion,” shared emcee Rich Wells. “A true visionary, Jack has helped to guide United Way’s impact work for over a decade. His commitment and compassion keeps our community grounded in the key to our success–changing lives.”

The Young Leader Award celebrates those in their 20s and 30s who demonstrate a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism. This year’s recipient was Brian Marinik from Dow Corning Corporation. Brian is referred to as a “leader with a heart of gold,” who led a strategic planning process that brought clarity and vision to the group, along with a new committee structure that engages even more members.

Bobbie Arnold, President and CEO of the Strosacker Foundation had the honor of presenting The Charles J. Strosacker Award to Kimberlee Bruce, the Director of Client Services at Shelterhouse.

“Kim is a dynamic and driving force behind the survivor-centered approach in our community,” shared Bobbie. “Her ability to bring organizations together around the issue is a benefit to survivors and our community as a whole.”

Pastors Jeremy and Tammy Screws were honored with the Shining Star Award. This award celebrates individuals that shine bright in our community, as a visible symbol of caring and compassion through advocacy.

Celebrated for their incredible impact on families at West Midland Family Center, Executive Director Greg Dorrien noted: “Jeremy and Tammy are extraordinary role models to our families through their own actions and solid parenting. They are what the family in West Midland Family Center has come to represent.”

“What an incredible evening this has been,” shared Rich. “We have been touched by the stories of our honorees tonight—they serve as an example and inspiration to us all. Remember, community change is bigger than one person or one organization—it requires all of us working together.”

He closed the evening by sharing a quote from Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

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