U-M employees get in the spirit of giving

February 7, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Thank you to Michigan Medicine employees who helped the 2016 United Way employee giving campaign raise more than $1.3 million to support the university’s neighbors in need.

The dollars raised benefit programs and services across Washtenaw County, assisting various nonprofit organizations in the area or the United Way’s Community Investment Fund.

From such programs as Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels to the Family Empowerment Program at Hamilton Crossing in Ypsilanti, donors had the choice of designating a nonprofit to receive their pledges. All of the nonprofit programs work to improve the lives of thousands of area residents.

One such neighbor is Kristen Banks.

“I had three kids and was supporting them on my own, and school for me was just not an option,” said Banks, who lives with her children at Hamilton Crossing.

Since joining the program — which focuses on helping residents become self-sufficient — Banks has received assistance and funding to further her education. She earned her associate’s degree and is working toward getting a bachelor’s degree in the hopes of becoming a juvenile attorney.

“Prior to coming to Hamilton Crossing, I felt like I had to work and that was it. Now, I can have a life and [take the time] to enroll in school,” Banks said.

If a donor didn’t designate a specific nonprofit, the pledges went toward the United Way Community Investment Fund, which supports human service programs across the county. It helps enrich residents when it comes to health and nutrition, works to provide housing and end homelessness, supports early childhood and school age youth, and provides programs for the aging population.

U-M United Way campaign co-chairs Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer, U-M Health System, and Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, thanked the university community for its generous support of the campaign.

They gave a special shout-out to the more than 500 volunteers from around the university who gave their time and energy to make the campaign a success.

“The employees of the University of Michigan have proven how much they care about our neighbors by their support of the United Way campaign,” Wilbanks said. “This is a better and stronger community because of their generosity. Together we show that we can make a difference in everyday lives.”

“The giving spirit of the U-M community is special,” Denton said. “Each year, our United Way campaign results show how much of a difference we can make through passion for serving others when they need it most. I feel grateful to be part of such a great team.”

Pam Smith, president and CEO of United Way of Washtenaw County, also was grateful to the U-M community.

“I would like to personally thank the faculty and staff for their participation in the United Way campaign, once again proving they are the Leaders and Best,” Smith said.

“Through this campaign, which is No. 1 among Big Ten institutions, we are able to provide solutions to the challenges of poverty in Washtenaw County which affects more than 22,000 households.”

While the formal campaign has ended, the U-M United Way office is still accepting pledges.

To make a donation, call 734-763-3109 or make a pledge online. For more information, visit the U-M United Way website.