United Way invites residents to celebrate local heroes

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BDN file photo Local United Way resource development Director Rick West and President and CEO Mary Fanning-Penny present at last year’s celebration in the Eclipse Center.

JANESVILLE — Everyone’s invited to celebrate the heroism of super people at United Way Blackhawk Region’s Live United Celebration to be held Wednesday, March 22 at the Pontiac Convention Center 2809 N. Pontiac Drive.

At 7:30 a.m., there is check-in and a breakfast buffet will be available at 8 a.m. Individual tickets are $20 and a corporate table of eight is $180. Guests can RSVP online at http://liveunitedbr.org/LUC-RSVP or call 608-314-8426. The deadline to register is Thursday.

The day’s theme of superheroes, titled “Honoring the Heroes Among Us,” will honor the contributions of those most generous. Heroes range from United Way’s program partners working every day in the service field to the heroes who give through volunteerism and/or donations.

In line with the event’s superhero theme, there will be a photo booth with capes, masks and other fun props.

“A great deal of fun is in store. It’s a high-energy and upbeat event. Take pause and celebrate the wonderful work of our community,” said United Way Blackhawk Region President Mary Fanning-Penny.

The event will feature the Honoring the Heroes Among Us Program and Awards Ceremony with a superhero theme interwoven throughout the morning. The event typically attracts around 300 people and is steadily growing.

Fanning-Penny said the Live United Celebration is an annual event intended to recognize and celebrate the community’s generosity.

“There are a number of different awards presented. We honor and celebrate volunteerism and the community’s generosity,” Fanning-Penny said.

Campaign awards, emerging campaign awards; the excellence and advocacy award and the Geraldine Hedberg Volunteer of the Year Award will be given. The most prestigious honor is the Live United Award, given to an organization that exemplifies support for United Way, not only by conducting workplace campaign, but also by demonstrating volunteer leadership.

During the event officials also will announce campaign projections.

“At the event we try to have a projection ready acknowledging there are a number of corporate and national accounts that haven’t yet finalized their information. We are usually able to give a good estimate of where we will round out the campaign,” Fanning-Penny said. “Early projections are that we will be within 94 to 96 percent of our goal of $2.4 million.”

Fanning-Penny said United Way locally and across the country is challenged with a declining campaign trend.

“We have experienced attrition with donors and we believe a large part of that is due to the fact so many baby boomers are nearing retirement age,” she said.

The United Way is working on creative strategies to stay in touch with baby boomers as well as creating engaging ways to onboard new supporters such as millennials for giving and volunteerism.

United Way Blackhawk Region provides annual community grants to 65 local programs. Those 65 programs span 35 non-profit agencies.

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