CHISHOLM — The United Way of Northeastern Minnesota had another successful annual campaign, raising well more than $1 million.
The nonprofit organization recently celebrated the 2014-2015 fundraising campaign — which brought in $1,810,134 — at its 48th annual meeting.
UWNEMN first topped the $1 million mark during its 40th-year anniversary.
“We are so thankful for the generous support we have received from all who contributed this year,” said UWNEMN Board of Directors President Jenny Beck. “With the support of our communities behind us, we are able to make a true impact.”
Awards were given throughout the evening to supporters and partners who went “above and beyond the call of duty in making an impact in our area communities.”
Individuals recognized for their volunteerism received “Lifesaver Awards.” Recipients were JJ Day of GMen Environmental Services for his critical participation in the Rampage at the Ridge event and veteran’s initiative along with Barb Dobson and Linda Lampton for their dedication to the United Way’s Buddy Backpack program.
The “Spirit Award” was given to Tom & Jerry’s Bar in Chisholm for delivering popcorn to the staff every Tuesday, as well as their dependability and ongoing UWNEMN partnership.
Mining Resources — which had 100 percent participation in their annual campaign for the United Way — received an “Outstanding Campaign Award.” Mining Resources had the highest average gift per person for a company with less than 400 employees at $350.62, and its campaign was also matched dollar-for-dollar from Steel Dynamics.
Hibbing Taconite and USW Local 2705 employees received the “Leadership Giving Award” generating the highest percentage of Leadership Givers, with 68 percent of donors giving a gift of $240 or more. They also had the highest average gift per person overall at $481.48.
Each year, the prestigious “Taconite Challenge Award” traveling trophy is presented to a mining company that has more than 400 employees with the highest percentage of employee participation in the UWNEMN campaign.
This year the honor was earned by U.S. Steel Minnesota Ore Operations Minntac and USW Locals 1938 and 9115 — with 67.06 percent participation from their employees. They narrowly beat out U.S. Steel Keetac & USW Local 2660.
“Leadership Awards” were presented to Range Center for its partnership with UWNEMN’s Good360 program; Steel Dynamics for its involvement in the BayView Blast/Arctic Splash, Rampage at the Ridge and Buddy Backpacks; and Starkovich Distributing for its event support.
Additionally this year, UWNEMN’s Board voted to give the “Agency Achievement Award” to Floodwood Services and Training for providing outstanding services to their clients.
Al Hodnik, president and CEO at ALLETE Inc. and president of Minnesota Power Enterprises, presented the keynote speech.
“We were thrilled to have Al as our speaker this year,” said Shelley Valentini, executive director of UWNEMN. “His commitment to United Way of Northeastern Minnesota is remarkable. He definitely leads by example.”
At the conclusion of his address, Hodnik presented UWNEMN with a check for $2,500 to support individuals and families in crisis with the upcoming layoffs at U.S. Steel.
“We are so grateful for this additional funding from Minnesota Power,” Valentini said. “We know it is going to be a hard year coming up, but when we all come together and support each other, that’s what it really means to ‘Live United.’”
“It has been a privilege to have served as the president of United Way of Northeastern Minnesota’s Board of Directors this past year,” Jenny Beck said. “I am very proud of the accomplishments the United Way has made. This organization truly does it all.”
A new slate of officers and board members were elected during the campaign celebration.
The 2015 officers are: Marcia Campbell of Minnesota Power, president; Bruce Kingsley of Mesabi Nugget, first vice president; Andrea Whiting of Mining Resources, second vice president; Jenny Beck of Enbridge, secretary; and Tony Zupancich of Delta Air Lines, treasurer.
Newly elected Board members are: Mike Patton of U.S. Steel Minnesota Ore Operations; Leah Stauber of St. Louis County Attorney’s Office; and JJ Day of GMen Environmental Services.
The newly elected board president closed the meeting by saying, “I remember when I was introduced to United Way 30 years ago in the workplace. We were encouraged to give 50 cents per pay period, and I did knowing that every little bit counts,” Campbell said. “Now to come full-circle and have the opportunity to serve as board president for an organization I believe in is such an honor.”