Annual Meeting shares successes, renewed focus on giving

Augie Napoli

United Way of Greater Cleveland closed the 2016-2017 campaign with an annual meeting today at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland with approximately 1,100 donors, volunteers and supporters in attendance. The event consisted of a packed agenda of board business, storytelling, entertainment, awards and announcements regarding United Way’s organizational realignment, among many others.

Augie Napoli, president & CEO of United Way of Greater Cleveland, began the meeting with a brief message. “Welcome and thank you for attending our first annual meeting at the Convention Center. This is just one of several changes you can expect from your United Way in the near future. What will not change is our 104-year commitment to bring Greater Clevelanders together to give and to volunteer for those in need… right here in our hometown… today and tomorrow,” he said.

For the first time, there was a reenacted 2-1-1 call played during the conclusion of lunch to change the tenor of the meeting and provide a deeper insight into the interaction between a 2-1-1 navigation specialist and a person in need of critical services. This four-minute reenactment was actually a 31-minute call taken in February.

Then Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish addressed the crowd, recognizing United Way’s role in the community.

“Together, we recognize the importance of accessible health care, we’re committed to finding solutions to stop the opiate epidemic that is killing people in our community every day and we’re helping individuals prepare for and keep meaningful and rewarding jobs, which is the only path to lifelong sustainability,” Budish said. “The human services that United Way and the county support together will make a difference in the next year and for years to come.”

Distinguished Gentlemen

As Budish exited the stage, the Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word, males ages eight to 18, came out to a perform powerful movement poetry to the annual meeting theme of “Together, We’re Greater.”

United Way’s chairman of the board, Marc Byrnes, chairman of Oswald Companies, updated the audience on recent business with the board of directors, the on-boarding of Napoli to the organization, a renewed focus on principal giving, furthering awareness of United Way 2-1-1 and much more.

“Together, we stand tall… we stand proud as we have helped change thousands of lives. And, our deepest gratitude goes out to all of you, today and always,” Byrnes said. “We [United Way] are the central place where donors could give and know their dollars were being invested wisely to care for those in need. I promise you … that continues to be true, today, through the judicious efforts of our tremendous volunteers. Volunteers are the very essence of our United Way; and, we are a formidable army.”

After Byrnes walked off the stage, a new video with custom musical Anthem was revealed, created to encapsulate the emotions of the “Together, We’re Greater” tagline and give the audience a glimpse into the impactful work United Way does to empower its partner agencies to provide critical services to those in need in our region.

Napoli returned to the stage and referenced several data outcomes that drew applause from the crowd, including:

  • Nearly 500 students are reading at, or progressed toward, reading at grade level with the help of United Way programs you helped fund.
  • More than 18,000 people received food assistance through United Way funded programs.
  • More than $3 million for prescription and medical supplies was leveraged through use of United Way dollars.

“I wish I could tell you our work is complete,” Napoli added. “But as long as one child is hungry, one family is without shelter for the night, one senior cannot get that needed prescription, we must persist.”

Then Heidi Gartland, University Hospital’s vice president of government and community relations and John MacIntosh, KPMG’s managing partner came out and revealed that more than 70,000 donors and 1,200 companies and organizations through the workplace campaign contributed $40,274,176 to help more than 400,000 people in Greater Cleveland succeed in school, secure basic food and housing needs, attain financial stability and achieve good health via 128 local health and human service programs.

“One thing Heidi and I learned throughout this campaign is it is indeed an army of volunteers and donors, working, influencing, and giving to make this happen,” MacIntosh mentioned. “We wish we could somehow reach every single donor, from those who gave $1 to those who gave $1 million, and shake their hands and thank them personally.”

Heidi added, “We’ve had a remarkable year … with the help of the Campaign Cabinet, with the help of hundreds of fundraising volunteers and over a thousand Employee Campaign Managers, with the help of a talented and devoted United Way staff, and with the help of 70,000 people who give to help improve Greater Cleveland.”

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As Heidi and John exited the stage, the 2017-2018 Campaign Co-Chairs, Chair and CEO of KeyCorp, Beth Mooney and Partner at Jones Day, Chris Kelly, came on stage. They discussed the challenges ahead and their collective passion and desire to tackle them.

“We expect to build on the work of those who have come before us, and to position the campaign for continued future success,” Mooney said.

Kelly expanded on that by saying, “I just want to emphasize: we have a real opportunity here to do the right thing. Making sure that our neighbors in need get help. As Beth said, ‘it’s the right thing to do’. Period…”

Mooney and Kelly asked the audience to take the pledge coin provided to them at their tables and make a commitment to be a hero, because “each one of us can put our super powers to work in our community,” they said in tandem.

Napoli came back on stage to present his keynote to the audience. He discussed the rich history of philanthropy in Cleveland, the “City of Goodwill” according to a 1913 New York Times article and how the realignment of United Way’s philanthropic business model will most certainly be the realization of what the New York Times predicted more than 100 years ago.

As Napoli was concluding his speech, attendees were surprised when the musical Anthem, “Stand Together” faded in and came into full force being accompanied by more than 100 youth singers from the Cleveland School of the Arts’ R. Nathaniel Dett Concert Choir. Their rendition brought the audience to their feet, as they joined in to sing with the choir.

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