By Kimm Leininger, executive director, United Way Services of Geauga County
“prolonged service and outstanding achievement by a GGP member or organization, who through relentless determination, diligence and dedication, has made significant contributions to enhance the value, quality, effectiveness and stature of the GGP and embodies…community service, economic development, advocacy, leadership, community impact, generosity and transparency, and a strong business acumen with a collaborative leadership style.”
We were very humbled to receive this honor; and we know that getting this award is a true reflection of the value of doing excellent work in this great community.
Geauga County is blessed with organizations and community leaders who are interested in joining together to work on issues and develop local solutions that can lead to long-term positive change. United Way has been able to bring key stakeholders to the table to address community issues, and participate in the planning processes with several others as well. We have seen some of the greatest changes happen over the last few years, as we have come together to work on addressing income issues.
Fortunately, we learned long ago that when we stop and listen to the needs of those in our community, the doors of opportunity and possibility open widely. Over the last few years, individuals from our community have discussed ways to strengthen Geauga County. We repeatedly heard about the need to help individuals find employment that will enable them to care for themselves or their family; support those who may be underemployed rise to their full potential and help those with disabilities to achieve maximum independence.
We have made great strides in these areas, along with our valuable partners, through the development of new and innovative programs, such as Bridges@Work and Bridges2Work.
Bridges@Work is a collaborative program with the GGP, Catholic Charities Community Services, Geauga Credit Union and the Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation, which helps individuals employed within Geauga County get to work, stay focused at work and advance in the workplace.
This happens through the utilization of a social worker from Catholic Charities, who is onsite at partnering companies and works with individuals to remove barriers that inhibit their success. In addition, emergency short-term loans are available to these employees, which are a tremendous resource to the program. Connecting individuals to resources within the community has proven to be very impactful – both at the employee and employer levels.
Bridges2Work, also a collaborative program, is helping individuals who are unemployed or underemployed to expand their skill sets and gain meaningful employment along a career pathway towards success.
This has included partners from GGP, Geauga County Job and Family Services, Ohio Means Jobs, Kent State – Geauga Campus, Geauga County Department on Aging and Geauga Metropolitan Housing. This group of partners has successfully graduated two State Tested Nursing Assistant classes from Kent State – Geauga and is branching out to new career pathways, including work in the jail with individuals soon to be released.
While United Way Services of Geauga County was the official recipient of the Frank Samuel Distinguished Service Award, we owe a debt of gratitude to the partners who show up when called upon and commit to creating change for our community.