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United Way Bertch

Bertch Cabinet employees took part in the Cedar Valley United Way kickoff Aug. 29 at Lost Island Waterpark.

On Aug. 29, approximately 375 people attended United Way’s 2018 kickoff rally at Lost Island Waterpark in Waterloo, celebrating the new theme “Building Better Futures.”

It’s the continuation of a long history that has impacted countless lives, right here in the Cedar Valley.

In its initial event as a Community Fund in Waterloo in 1923, the organization raised $68,000 for agencies such as the YMCA, YWCA and Social Welfare League. Over the years, Cedar Valley United Way has expanded its reach to include communities within a 30-mile radius of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area.

And to this day, the Cedar Valley United Way remains committed to a mission of advancing the common good and the promotion of a healthy community.

It’s a mission that, each and every year, is taken up by community-minded organizers, volunteers, local businesses and, of course, donors.

This year’s campaign chairs are Gary and Becky Bertch, owners of Bertch Cabinets and Lost Island Waterpark.

There are many examples of what donations can do. During the rally, Sheila Baird, Cedar Valley United Way president, offered one such example. She said the organization was able to provide about $75,000 last year to the Child Protection Center at UnityPoint-Allen Hospital in Waterloo.

“What a difference it would make to assist them more by finding an additional $25,000. They see over 500 kids a year that have been so abused that they have to have forensics done. We just need to work harder and make more.”

The United Way distributes grant funding to nonprofit community organizations. Among the services those organizations provide are after-school and child care programs, disaster relief services, elderly transportation, community meals, help for victims of domestic violence and help for families struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s one of those organizations that you’ve got to believe in, all the good they do,” said Frank Darrah, a Cedar Falls City Council member who has been involved with the campaigns for several years. “The people that are here tonight (at the rally) are all a part of organizations that do something to lift people up. That’s what the United Way does. It’s one of the things that makes the Cedar Valley such a great place.”

That sums it up pretty well.

Throughout this campaign, many of you will have opportunities to give through a workplace campaign or by responding to mailed requests. We remain convinced that, in terms of community investment, the Cedar Valley United Way is one of the best donations you can make.

These are local dollars going into local efforts.

Most of the campaigns over the last several years have eclipsed the $3 million mark, with a couple coming in just under that. They all have been great campaigns, and we’re fortunate to live in an area where that kind of money can be raised and put toward the betterment of the community and to help impact people’s lives.

According to Samantha Meyer, Cedar Valley United Way’s director of marketing, the estimated need this year is around $4 million – so each and every donation is needed.

We thank Gary and Becky Bertch for taking on the campaign chair responsibilities this year. This is a massive commitment of time and energy on behalf of our communities.

In speaking with campaign chairs from the past, the rewards have been significant – knowing they have played an important role in leveraging meaningful assistance for the betterment of individual lives, families and the community at large.

Every year, the Cedar Valley United Way presents to us a reliable way to give back to our respective communities. That’s a great reason to get involved in this year’s campaign.

Let’s all help the Cedar Valley United Way in Building Better Futures.

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