CADILLAC — Testimonials of how donations to the United Way have changed lives helped launch the kick-off to this year’s fundraising campaign.

The annual United Way of Wexford and Missaukee Counties Campaign Kick-Off event and awards celebration was held Thursday morning at the Cadillac Grill.

To get things started there was a wake up call from the Cadillac Marching Vikings playing music from Queen. Directed by Mike Filkins, the band just received their fourth invitation to march in America’s Thanksgiving Parade in downtown Detroit.

Pat Goggin then reported that in 2019, 35 agencies received funding through United Way representing 8,000 people and 2,000 donors.

To bring life to the United Way tagline “We do more than raise funds,‘ testimonials demonstrated how dollars invested in local programs have impacted the community.

Mike Kelso, executive director of the YMCA, read a letter from a college student who attended the Teen Impact program. Kelso recalled that when the student came into the program in high school, “she was in an unhappy and dark place.‘

“I’ve had setbacks in my life but I’m strong enough to continue,‘ the student wrote. “I hope I have a long life so I can inspire others to do good ... This program gave me guidance along my path.‘

Stephanie Sprague, a successful business woman, recalled a wounded past and credited OASIS and Helping Private Wounds for providing help.

“I’ve dealt with struggles,‘ she said. “I’ve been through a ton of hurts, including sexual abuse. My mom was suicidal. I watched a lot of terrible things happen. I’m here today because of my community and friends and the support they have given me.‘

Other testimonials included a report from Jennifer Pugh of Community Hope in Lake City, where they are empowering people through mentoring; Captain R.C. Duskin of the Salvation Army; and Amber Herlein of OASIS.

Earlier in the program, Robert Best, board president, presented workplace recognitions for contributions to last year’s campaign. Businesses that were recognized included Mercantile Bank; Baird, Cotter and Bishop PC,CPA; Blick-Dillon Insurance; Avon Protection Systems; Groupe Beneteau; Meijer; Network Reporting and the Cadillac News.

Day of Caring

CAPS Superintendent and United Way Vice President Jennifer Brown announced the Day of Caring with volunteer opportunities to benefit Community Hope, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, and OASIS/Family Resource Center on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

To learn more about United Way of Wexford and Missaukee counties, visit:

Cadillac News