By BECKY KISER
A new logo, a new house and a new fundraising campaign.
It’s been a busy summer for the United Way of Ellis County, which kicked off its 2022 campaign Friday at a Hays Chamber luncheon at Rose Garden Banquet Hall in Hays.
On Tuesday, United Way offices moved from the Hadley Center to the Chestnut Street Building, 1200 Main. United Way will be housed in Suite 102, near the offices of other local nonprofits, including the Heartland Community Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Downtown Hays Development Corporation.
In early July, the new local logo designed by Brandon Karlin was unveiled and is included in the campaign marketing information.
During the launch lunch, several Ellis County residents whose lives have been changed through the support of Big Brothers Big Sisters, First Call for Help and the Cancer Council of Ellis County, shared their uplifting stories.
Justine is a client of First Call for Help and a resident of First Step Housing.
Housing for temporary residents is at the rear of the FCFH office building, 607 E. 13th.
There are four bedrooms with private bathrooms and a common living room, kitchen and laundry room.
With CWF Director Linda Mills by her side, Justine spoke about her journey from jail and losing all her possessions to now being employed, paying fines and saving money to buy a vehicle.
“First Step was my first break,” Justine told the audience, “and I couldn’t have been more grateful. It’s the perfect place to start over in my own hometown.
“A few months ago, I had nothing but clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. I currently make over $20 an hour working full-time at Enersys.”
Justine said it’s been her lifelong goal to own her own home and it “now seems tangible with the money saving principles and goals” she’s learning at First Step Housing.
“Neighbors Helping Each Other” is the theme of this year’s fundraising campaign.
“This is something our community and United Way have been doing since 1953,” said Erica Berges, Executive Director of United Way.
“Some of these neighbors are our partner agencies, the ones that are there for those who need help. They have provided services to thousands of neighbors year after year.”
Some of the agencies have seen “substantial increases” in requests for help “in the past two months alone,” Berges noted. “So the need is still there, more than ever.”
There are 15 partner agencies of United Way of Ellis County 2022:
* Western Kansas Association on the Concerns of the Disabled (WKACD)
* Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK)
* Western Kansas Children’s Advocacy Center (WKCAC)
*Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation
*Ellis County Cancer Board
*Parents and children together (PACT)
*Life Experience Center
*Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS)
*CASA of the High Plains
*American Red Cross
* Hays Senior Center
* Catholic charities
* First Call for Help (FCFH)
There are several ways to donate money to Centraide. Details are available on the agency’s website website.
Editor’s Note: Becky Kiser is a member of the United Way of Ellis County Board of Directors.