UW celebrates its past, looks forward to its future

PLYMOUTH — It was an evening that brought 50 years of Marshall County history and caring into the same room for a celebration, but while the evening may have finally come to an end, the caring — and the task ahead for United Way of Marshall County — has not.
“I have the distinction to provide closing remarks for this celebration,” said Unit-ed Way Board President Rick Kreps, summing up Saturday evening’s festivities. “It’s an honor to do so and a very simple task. That’s because there is no closing.”
He explained the need for the United Way is a continuous one.
The evening began with a special honor for the organization, following remarks by 50th anniversary co-chairs Jim and Susan Wagner. Governor Mitch Daniels sent a proclamation from the Statehouse to make Sept. 12, 2010, “United Way Day” in Marshall County.
A special video presentation from Austin Craft and a crew from Plymouth High School’s broadcasting class and a special edition of the “United Way News” published by the Pilot News, celebrated the rich history of an organization that has lent a helping hand to so many in Marshall County for 50 years.
“United Way has distributed more than $8 million to worthy organizations over the years,” said Jim Wagner. “$8 million. That is truly amazing. And I am honored to be here because that is truly a reason to be celebrating.”
The evening was made possible by another cornerstone of the organization. Wagner praised John J. Oliver and U.S. Granules Corp. as a “…stabilizing force behind United Way…”
Oliver and his company have served the cause of United Way for 44 years and were underwriters for the celebration.
Personalities and keystones that have made the organization the force for good that it is in Marshall County were in attendance at Swan Lake Resort. All of the organization’s previous Executive Directors — Karen Humphrey (1983-85), Shirley Gidley (1985-93), and Jeff Honzik (1993-2007) were there to celebrate with current Executive Director Jennifer Maddox.
Keys to the organization’s beginnings as a door-to-door “Community Chest” such as Betty Lou and Bill Laramore, Joe Felke and Bob Beiter — along with many others who have been instrumental over the years — were honored for all they had done. All were honored with a commemorative bottle of wine bearing the United Way’s 50th anniverary logo.
The main contributors to the campaign were honored by Susan Wagner.
“There is no way to adequately recognize the thousands of volunteers for United Way over the years,” she said. “Especially the way they were so willing to give their time and effort to help others.”
The night was capped off by dancing and socializing of the many generations — nearly 200 guests — in attendance.