LIMA — In 2018, the United Way of Greater Lima celebrated 100 years of what President and CEO Derek Stemen called being the “epicenter” of the community.
The United Way partners with 19 agencies that support its core values of health, education and financial stability.
“Our focus is always to fight for the health, education and the financial stability of every person in the community, and our reason for those three areas is because we believe those are the basic building blocks that ultimately lead to self-sufficiency,” Stemen explained.
Locally, the United Way of Greater Lima works with organizations such as the Allen County Council on Aging, Children’s Developmental Center, Northwest Ohio Literacy Council, Crossroads Crisis Center and Salvation Army, among others.
”The thing about the United Way that’s really unique is we really touch just about all of our communities,” he said. “I like to think that the United Way is in many ways the epicenter of our community, where everyone comes together, and that fits with our mission to improve lives by uniting the caring power of our community.”
In terms of how the United Way has stayed that epicenter for more than 100 years, Stemen said it goes back to the grassroots nature of the organization despite being part of a worldwide network.
“I think first and foremost it goes back to that core value about being local and addressing local needs,” he said. “Throughout time, our culture and community have changed, technology has changed, the industrial revolution changed us, but we made it through these periods of change because we’ve had local people addressing local issues.”
Today’s challenge in adaptability lies in continuing to grow digital engagement, Stemen said.
“The world is moving more and more digital, and it’s about finding ways to communicate our impact to pull people in through not only digital but that face-to-face interaction through volunteer engagement,” he explained. “One of the things we’re looking at is how we can engage other generations and groups with Day of Caring. For example, one thing we’re doing is focusing on high school students getting engaged and other groups like that.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.