Why? United Way Heroes Unite!

By Jen, Why CLE? blogger (reposted with permission from the author)

There’s a superhero in each of us and on Wednesday, June 27, the United Way of Greater Cleveland wants to celebrate that!

Heroes Unite will take over Public Square to celebrate the United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2017-2018 campaign. Headlining the Heroes Unite event is Welshly Arms, a Cleveland-based band that has risen to national prominence.

There will also be superhero-themed activities for all ages, including appearances from caped crusaders, a photo booth, games, and a video game virtual reality simulator.

Heroes Unite takes place on Wednesday, June 27 in Public Square from 4-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but the United Way of Greater Cleveland is requesting RSVPs here.

The United Way of Greater Cleveland helps people in need with education, health, basic needs, and financial stability, with services ranging from emergency shelters to mediation programs to substance abuse treatment to childcare centers. Find out more about the United Way of Greater Cleveland and how you can help here.

There is a superhero in each of us and we can proudly let our capes fly with the United Way of Greater Cleveland’s celebration!

About Why CLE?

Jen at Why CLE? Cleveland Blogger on United Way of Greater Cleveland

I’m a CLE gal, born and raised. And I’ve lived other places, but I always come back home – by choice, not by chance.

The people I know who make a life here genuinely love it, but often hear the same question, “Why Cleveland?” The worst part is when people who actually live in Cleveland ask, “Why Cleveland?” I get convincing the outsiders. But when Clevelanders themselves ask, “Why Cleveland?” Well, that’s a problem…

Learn more about the acclaimed Why CLE? blog.



RSVP for Heroes Unite!


Volunteer Views Profile

Our “Volunteer Views” series seeks to share United Way of Greater Cleveland’s partners who generously give their time and talent through the gift of volunteerism. Their continuous work helps make our community a greater place to live, work and play. This month we are featuring Gary Poth, executive managing director, head of Key Family Wealth.

Questions and Answers

How did you get involved with volunteering early on in life?
I learned the importance of helping others from an early age by serving in my church and also the gratification that comes from caring for others. In my adult life, I became more deeply involved in serving others when my career brought me back to Cleveland about 10 years ago.

Since then, I have been fortunate to serve on the board of several nonprofits. I love helping people and working with organizations that have the heart to help others. It’s very fulfilling for me to help organizations like United Way. I am currently serving on the boards of the Cleveland Sight Center; Cleveland Institute of Music; Community Partner Arts and Culture; and the Holden Arboretum.

Why did you choose to volunteer with United Way of Greater Cleveland?
United Way is a great organization with a stellar reputation and, because of the fundraising capacity, United Way has the single biggest impact on our community. As a member of the KeyBank team, I am fortunate to be part of an organization that has always been a strong supporter of United Way and places a premium on employees giving back to the community.

Over the last several years, I have had the pleasure of co-chairing United Way’s Humanitarian Society along with Kelly Tompkins of Cleveland Cliffs. The generous members of the Humanitarian Society makes up about 20 percent of all giving to United Way.

What are some causes/issues that resonate with you? If so, what is it and why?
As someone who was the first person to attend college in my family, I know firsthand the doors that are opened from a solid education and how it can break the cycle of poverty. In far too many of our neighborhoods, we still have capable and talented children that never realize their potential because of the lack of a good education.
What are your personal and professional aspirations for the people of our region and our communities we live and serve in?
We’re on a good trajectory here in Cleveland. To continue that momentum, we need to be able to retain our best and brightest talent. Cleveland has always been a great place to live and raise a family, but we are making it a great place to have a career as well.

There is a real entrepreneurial spirit here with new companies now popping up every day. Our ability to sustain this momentum ties back to making sure that we have an educational system that provides our young people with the skills required for a successful career.

For those looking to possibly volunteer their time in an age where we’re all so incredibly busy, what would you say to those who may be on the fence about volunteering?
The old adage that “It’s better to give than receive” is so true. The personal fulfillment one gets from helping others is tremendous and well worth the costs. In addition to the personal satisfaction of helping others, volunteering connects you to other leaders throughout our community that share your passions expanding your professional network, which can have an enormous impact on your career.
Gary Poth
Executive Managing Director, Head of Key Family Wealth
Gary Poth, Key Family Wealth
One of the oldest and largest family offices in the country, serving roughly 500 of KeyBank’s largest families across the country and managing $12 billion in investments.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at United Way of Greater Cleveland.


Corporate Caring Profile

Our “Corporate Caring” series seeks to share United Way of Greater Cleveland’s partners who hold workplace campaigns, special events, volunteers programs and more that work to make our community a greater place to live, work and play. We want to highlight the great works and charitable giving so many businesses strive to achieve in our great community!

Questions and Answers

Why is partnering with United Way of Greater Cleveland so important to the NRP Group?
One of the things that we do as a company is we build housing for those less fortunate than us. Part of our core values is really understanding that there are less fortunate in our society. I can think of no other group in Cleveland that really helps on a grand scale the people in our society that are left behind like the United Way. The employees at the NRP Group really understand that.
How have you reached 100 percent employee participation for your workplace campaign and for so long?
We’ve had that [100 percent participation] for over 12 years now, and I think one of the ways we’re able to achieve that is that the pressure has been taken out. We really explain to the employees, we take the time to work with them, bring in great speakers from the United Way and some of the agencies that are recipients, and we share the message with them. Because we have a compassionate and understanding organization of people that get it. We’re just asking them to participate. And once they participate, they begin to increase their gift year-after-year. I think it’s that increase that we’re most proud of in addition to the 100 percent giving.
What was your first experience with volunteerism and philanthropy?
I grew up in a family with a tradition of giving. I’ve been very involved in the Jewish community in Cleveland and from a very young age have been taught to give back and that there are people less fortunate than us. I’ve made it part of my life. I’ve made it part of my business. And it’s something that I’m very proud of personally. I’m proud to pass that tradition on to my children and proud to share it with my fellow coworkers.
What is a cause or issue that you feel is important to you personally?
I really believe that financial stability and financial education is something that’s very important. I’m very proud United Way is a part of that, because one of the things dealing in low-income housing for our residents, in our communities, is we realize that there is real financial illiteracy within the communities.

If people could start talking about what it means to have financial independence at a younger age, they can start to strive for that. That is something that I think is really important that United Way does that not a lot of people know about. But, here at NRP we understand that.

Why would you encourage other business leaders to partner with United Way?
My message to other small-business owners in the Cleveland area is to take that leadership; to give yourself, and to open up that giving to the rest of your employees. As a leader, I feel it’s incumbent upon me to share that message with my employees.

Because the reality is, we’re all recipients of United Way when you think about it. If we have a stronger society, we’re going to have stronger businesses; we’re going to have stronger family lives; we’re going to have less crime; we’re going to have a better society that we live in.

We’re going to be defined as a city by how we take care of the least well-off in our community. There’s no better intermediary than the United Way that understands the agencies, understands where the dollars are going, and has critical oversight. I think they do a fantastic job.

J. David Heller
Principal of the NRP Group
J. David Heller from the NRP Group - Corporate Caring
Cleveland Number of Employees (Cleveland Office): 119

Workplace Campaign Employee Participation: 100 percent for the past 12 years

Join us for an evening of fun, philanthropy and food!

Augie NapoliIt’s that time of year when our children head back to school, the days become shorter and we start looking forward to all that fall has to offer our beautiful midwestern city. It’s also the time of year when we hold our annual campaign kickoff. This will be the second official campaign kickoff under my tenure; and as we have done with many other aspects of our organization during the past year, we’ve decided to transform the event to better reengage the community.

This year we’re changing it up from pancakes and taking a more progressive approach to celebrating our kickoff. As someone who holds Cleveland near and dear to my heart, I wanted to help showcase our great city in a less traditional way, while still convening our community members, donors and volunteers in our city’s epicenter to say thank you for your generosity, passion and dedication. After all, you are at the heart – the philanthropic pulse – of what makes United Way tick.

We want to celebrate the things we all love most about Cleveland – our community, our innovation, our willingness to change and the people who make Cleveland a city of greatness and goodwill!

As part of our new United Way, driven by our new strategic plan, we have shifted focus to two core priorities – the people we serve and the donors who make it possible to do so. This year’s event will be held at a fantastic location where Clevelanders can come together to celebrate this past campaign year, while enjoying the city and all that inspires them to give of their time, talent and treasure. What better place than Mall B in downtown where we have celebrated historic sporting wins and are surrounded by the sights and sounds of a respected and growing city?

This year our “Heroes in the CLE” event will honor those in our community who have not only supported United Way and our partner agencies, but have also inspired us to continue to focus on the bigger picture: helping improve the lives of our children, neighbors and community members to ensure that everyone has a healthier, safer and brighter future.

Please join our team, our Campaign Co-Chairs Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp; and Chris Kelly, partner at Jones Day; and fellow community members on Mall B in downtown Cleveland on Thursday, August 31 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mingle with fellow Clevelanders while enjoying food from local food trucks and music from DJ Ryan Wolf, helping kickoff this year’s campaign by reaffirming your promise to be a Hero in the CLE for those in need.

Eaton holds 5k, wellness fair to raise money for those in need

It was a beautiful day for a run. On June 8, Eaton held a 5k run/fun walk at its corporate headquarters in Beachwood, Ohio. Roughly 250 employees participated and raised more than $2,700 to support United Way of Greater Cleveland. Along with the 5k, Eaton hosted more than 20 companies, including seven United Way Partner Agencies, for a Wellness Fair. Hundreds of employees stopped by the fair and were able to get information on various services and benefits throughout the community. The fair concluded with a short program where the winners of the race received trophies. United Way agencies were also able to speak about their respective services and the people they serve.

Eaton is a long time supporter of United Way of Greater Cleveland. Each year, they raise enough funds to put them in the top two employee campaigns in the region. This year, they are holding special events leading up to their kickoff that are geared towards United Way impact areas – health, financial stability, education and basic needs. Along with health, they will hold events around education and financial stability.

Their official employee campaign will kick off in August.

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.”


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.

United Way Annual Meeting to highlight changes, renewed vision

anapoliBy Augie Napoli, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Cleveland

We’ve seen a year of sweeping changes occur, with more certainly to come. It’s only fitting that United Way start unveiling its own changes. There are several areas that this 104-year old organization will be focusing on, which include renewing its mission, vision and scope of work for the benefit of the communities it serves.

United Way’s Annual Meeting is Friday, March 10, at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland. Board Chair Marc Byrnes and I will use this opportunity to share our renewed and re-envisioned strategic areas that will take United Way to the next level.

With an anticipated crowd of nearly 1,100 community members and United Way supporters, we will discuss the successes we have achieved during 2016 and the aggressive plans we have for the coming year. Some of these successes include how your support has been a critical component in ensuring our partner agencies have the tools needed to provide critical services to those in need.

Whether your support came from a monetary gift, volunteering or advocating face-to-face or through your own social media channels, we applaud you for all you do.

Campaign Co-Chairs Heidi Gartland, vice president of government and community relations at University Hospitals; and John MacIntosh, managing partner at KPMG, will report on the results of the 2016-17 campaign and pass the baton to the Co-Chairs of the upcoming campaign.

We’ll discuss new and innovative initiatives. We will also acknowledge our strong partnerships with Geauga and Medina counties; and we expect to be graced by several local leaders, including remarks by Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

We look forward to an exciting event, highlighted by The Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word, a group of young men ages eight to 18, who will perform movement poetry to the annual meeting theme of “Together, We’re Greater.”

As I reflect upon my first nine months with United Way, I am humbled and honored to lead such a respected organization. I am excited to take on the challenges, and expand on the current opportunities, with an open mind and open heart to be a catalyst in successfully taking United Way into the future as a leader and model of philanthropy.

This year’s annual meeting will be one to remember! Because together, we are greater!

United Way of Greater Cleveland participates in toy drive for foster youth

By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

Hope for Holidays

With the holiday spirit in full swing, several United Way of Greater Cleveland employees continued the organization’s annual tradition of collecting gifts for Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services (CCDCFS) toy drive.

Hope for the Holidays,” the three-year-old rebranding of the County’s Giving Tree, invites participants to donate gifts for all age groups for distribution to attendees from the foster and kinship care.

The rebranding came from trying to help ease some burden off the children’s caseworkers, said Kristin Gardner, CCDCFS volunteer and outreach coordinator. Under the Giving Tree program, caseworkers had to juggle collecting and delivering gifts to individual families, while with Hope for the Holidays, the child’s caregivers are responsible for taking them to the county holiday party.

“Children end up in foster care if bad things have happened to their family or it’s not safe to remain in your home,” Gardner said, “To be removed from your home is sad and hard, especially around the holiday. We love to see the children leave the Hope for the Holidays event with a bag full of stuff because at least it’s one day all about them.”

At the December 10 party, each child received one to two gifts, a book, a craft, a smaller toy and a chance to win raffle prizes like bikes. Pictures with Santa were available, provided by a former foster-youth who aged out of the system without any photos of herself as a child — something she didn’t want to have happen to others.

“When she aged out, she realized she didn’t have any pictures of herself as a kid,” she said. “Which is something most of us take for granted. So she made it her mission to do that, she does pictures and prints them right then and there so the kids can have them. She never wants that to happen to anyone else.”

DJ Reichel, publications manager, has coordinated United Way’s Hope for the Holidays drive for the past seven years. When Reichel started with United Way, he got involved by designing the promotional material for the drive and was eventually given full reign.

“We’ve been doing it the whole time I’ve been here,” he said. “I like it — I get to meet people in the building I wouldn’t have normally communicated with and it [is] an escape from my everyday job.”

The drive provided gifts for the almost 1,800 youth 20-and-under in foster or kinship care. And while only a fraction of those donations came from United Way, Reichel recognizes the gifts of his fellow employees are from the heart.

“Any amount of generosity is successful and this is a pretty generous group of people,” he said. “I know a lot of us don’t really have a lot of money to give away, so any amount of generosity is pretty cool.”

End of year giving springboards off holiday season, promotes philanthropy, generosity

By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

hands holding wrapped gift

With 2017 right around the corner and the weather in Northeast Ohio turning colder, the season of giving descends on Greater Cleveland. End-of-year giving, supported by religious and secular seasonal practices of charity and volunteering, prompts donors to get their gifts in before December 31 and work to meet the needs of those less fortunate.

Twenty percent of donations are made throughout the month of December, said Dan Mansoor, chief philanthropy officer and vice president of development at United Way of Greater Cleveland, which is more than double the monthly average. More than 90 percent of December donations are given in the last three days of the month, he said.

The National Center for Charitable Statistics supports Mansoor’s numbers, stating “as the holidays near, people may feel encouraged to give more generously than during the rest of the year.” Supported by a GuideStar Survey of organizations, half of those served receive the majority of their contributions between October and December.

The psychology of giving

Nationally, 80 percent of charitable giving comes from individual gifts, and many take advantage of the itemized deductions for donations on taxes, Mansoor said. But these donors may also want the good feeling that comes from giving to others. According to an article published in Psychology Today, charitable giving lights up a participant’s brain the same way pleasures like comfort foods and dancing does.

The article references several psychological studies, including one conducted in Eugene, Oregon proving when people are given random sums of money, one of the most satisfyingly altruistic options is to donate it.

Do the most good

Whether a donor’s gift is from the heart or their neurons, the basic needs in Greater Cleveland are more visible in the colder months. Kitchens host holiday meal events; community groups make care packages for the homeless and organizations like Toys for Tots focuses on providing toys and Christmas gifts for needy families.

“People want to help others at this time of year, there’s a good feeling,” Mansoor said. “Especially as they’re buying for family and friends, relatives, maybe even themselves, there is a good feeling that comes from helping others.”

Procrastinating through the end of the year, last-minute individuals no longer have to rely on snail-mail to get their gifts in before January 1. Donations can be made at, because United Way dollars go to multiple organizations within the community, it is a more efficient way to give during the holiday season.

“United Way helps the most needy in the community, in partnership with a large number of nonprofits and agencies,” Mansoor said. “In addition to collecting money, we also have a volunteer allocations committee made up of members of the community, so we have a body of knowledge to ensure these funds get to where they can do the most good.”


GM Foundation Awards Community Grants to aid Northeast Ohio

General Motors employees with community grant check

The General Motors Foundation and GM’s Parma Metal Center have announced $25,000 in grants to Greater Cleveland nonprofit organizations through its Community Grants program.

“Through the GM Foundation, these important community organizations are able to drive programs that continue to improve the quality of life in our communities,” said Lamar Rucker, Parma’s plant manager. “We are proud to be a part of a company and community that both work hard to support education, enhance community revitalization and help those in need.”

Funded by the GM Foundation, the GM Community Grants will support the following Northeast Ohio organizations and community programs:

  • United Way of Greater Cleveland ($10,000) – Aspires to create and support healthy communities where all kids succeed in school and families and individuals are financially stable. To do this, they engage community members to volunteer their time, talent and voices to support its work. More than 150 Community Impact volunteers oversee the annual investments in programs designed to address some of our community’s most difficult problems, and Campaign Cabinet volunteers work to mobilize some 1,400 workplace campaigns. More than 2,000 volunteers participate in hands-on projects through Days of Caring programs. The result is 450,000 Greater Cleveland residents benefit from United Way every year.
  • American Cancer Society, Northeast Ohio Region ($5,000) – The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. The Northeast Ohio Region partners with Parma in major initiatives like Making Strides Against Breast Cancer where Parma is a leading supporter in the Cleveland area.
  • Big Creek Connects ($5,000) – Is committed to conserve, enhance, and bring recognition to the natural and historic resources of the Big Creek Watershed and develop a recreational trail network that connects these resources to each other and the community.
  • Greater Cleveland Food bank ($5,000) – Each year, 52 million meals are missed in the Food Bank’s service area. Its mission is to ensure that everyone in Greater Cleveland communities has the nutritious food they need every day through both food distribution and food stamp outreach efforts.  

“Through the Community Grants Program, GM Parma is fostering an environment that supports education and growth of the region,” said Lori Wingerter, vice president, GM Foundation. “Partnerships with these organizations underscore our commitment to the residents of Parma and all of Greater Cleveland.” 

This year, the GM Community Grants program will provide over $2 million in funding to hundreds of organizations in 47 communities where GM employees live and work.