By Wendy Van, Vice President of Development
On the evening of April 2, I was honored to be part of the Campaign Victory Celebration for the Fremont United Way. This dedicated, committed team exceeded their fundraising goals and added several new major contributors to the campaign this year. And it’s no wonder why.
The Fremont United Way team has been relentless in their efforts to build an early childhood coalition and fearless in its resolve to take on the tough issues that are facing the area’s children and families.
In the end, the team raised more than $640,000 – decimating their initial goal of $625,000 in a part of the state that many said could never generate that kind of cash. Shame on them for underestimating the commitment of Fremonters to improve the lives of their community’s children.
They did it by collaborating. By working with a new corporate donor. By tapping 65 new $500+ donors. And by running 45 workplace donation campaigns.
What’s extraordinary? They made a choice.
When the United Way team first saw the necessary service array to serve the area’s family and start moving the needle on risk factors, they had a choice to make. Others may have chosen to sweep the information under the rug, pretend it wasn’t happening and that these community challenges would disappear if they stuck to the status quo.
But they didn’t. Led by Executive Director Shawn Shanahan, the United Way team chose to face those challenges honestly and bravely. They chose to do what was necessary to serve the families in their neighborhoods. They chose to stand together as a team of people who care deeply for their community and cannot afford to pretend that things would just “be OK.”
The Fremont United Way chose collaboration. They chose a new approach to solving very complex problems. From where we sit, this is very exciting!
Leona Heldt, one of the volunteers for the United Way, was honored for her remarkable work orchestrating a summer food program. As she was assembling a team and planning the program, she discovered a huge gap in food for students during the summer. In just a few short months, the team had mobilized the faith community to provide nearly 6,000 meals over the summer break. This is a marvelous example of what people can do when they face the situation fearlessly and collaborate openly.
The United Way used a grant from Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to hire the talented and hardworking Donna Meismer as community impact director, to develop a plan, to move forward with the early childhood coalition and to mobilize 16 other community partners to take action on 30 programs.
It’s this choice that makes us at the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation want to continue working with you. We learn a lot from you and from your community leadership and we hope to bottle a little of it and help others start down this road to transformation.