United Way celebrates 2021 at year-end event

T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Rob and Cherra Meloy of Emerson, left and center, accept an award for the outstanding workplace campaign from 2021 Campaign Co-Chair Kris Naughton during the Marshalltown Area United Way’s year-end event on Friday afternoon.

Above all else, 2021 was a year of change for the Marshalltown Area United Way (MAUW) as it continued to navigate the waters of a post-COVID world and welcomed its first new executive director in almost 30 years. Leaders of the organization, along with local business, nonprofit and media partners, celebrated the near-conclusion of another successful fundraising campaign at a year-end event held at the Marshalltown Public Library on Friday afternoon.

After an introduction from 2021 campaign co-chairs Kris and Shannon Naughton, MAUW Events and Marketing Coordinator Liv Callaway, who started in June, shared a brief recap of some of the annual events, including a golf outing that raised over $12,000 and the Power of the Purse night in October, which raised almost $19,500.

Executive Director Kendra Sorensen presented awards to several local businesses for their generous giving, both in the form of corporate donations and individual contributions. Emerson was recognized for conducting the most successful workplace campaign after raising $50,100 — the company’s highest total since 2016 — through a combination of voluntary payroll deductions and special weekly events like a dunk tank for executives, a chili cook off and bake sale, and a Super Smash Brothers gaming competition. Rob Meloy, who spoke on behalf of the company along with his wife Cherra, told the audience they got creative with their efforts.

“We had what I would say was a great marketing campaign with, at a minimum, weekly communications with what I’d call some engaging slash clever — we did a lot of memes,” he said. “It adds a little bit of spice to the emails and catches your eye, and that’s always a positive.”

Other employers recognized included Lennox Industries, which recently made a $52,000 donation to the MAUW, JBS Marshalltown, the Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD), and the United Way’s newest corporate sponsor, Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), after the company made that commitment for the first time 2015. Sorensen then honored several media partners for their coverage and marketing of MAUW happenings — the Times-Republican, KFJB, KDAO and OnMedia — and local financial institutions that sponsored meals throughout the year.

Marshalltown Parks and Recreation Director Geoff Hubbard was all smiles after winning the raffle for a “Marshalltown Strong” bags set during the United Way’s year-end event on Friday.

MAUW Board President Chris Jones, who is also a captain with the Marshalltown Police Department (MPD), reflected on his leadership term, his own journey with the local United Way dating back eight years and how the money raised is spent within the community.

“Those board members take that very, very seriously. We debate, sometimes to endless amounts, to make sure that every single dollar that comes in is spent very wisely,” Jones said. “It’s a wonderful board. The board is very diverse with some great professionals throughout our community. It’s a great opportunity for anybody that wishes to really get involved in the Marshalltown community.”

Marshalltown Parks and Recreation Director Geoff Hubbard won the raffle for a “Marshalltown Strong” bags set, and Alice Quastad and Jeff Schneider were named as the co-chairs for the 2022 fundraising campaign.

With the 2021 campaign deadline of Jan. 7 approaching, the MAUW has raised $661,838 of its $800,000 goal. Kris Naughton did note that at least one large contribution is “not 100 percent confirmed” but highly likely to come before the deadline.

After the event, Sorensen, who took on her current role in January of 2021, looked back at almost a full year on the job and some of the changes still ahead as longtime administrative assistant Deb Imsland prepares to step down. When she took the position, Sorensen replaced Nancy Steveson, who had been with the United Way for a total of 42 years including 28 as director.

“I’m absolutely excited because there have been just so many learning opportunities in my first year. You find out the things that work really well and maybe those that don’t work as well as what you thought, and then you can take from that experience and learn to grow and adjust accordingly,” Sorensen said. “Having one whole year under my belt (heading) into next year will be phenomenal.”


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesreublican.com


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today