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United Way Alliance kicks off fundraising campaign

United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley Executive Director Stacy DeCicco, left, speaks during Wednesday’s kickoff event for the nonprofit organization’s 2021-22 campaign, built around the theme of “One Team, United in the Game,” at the Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

VIENNA — As the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley kicked off its 2021-22 fundraising campaign Wednesday morning, Executive Director Stacy DeCicco looked back on a tumultuous but successful year.

“This was the year it would have been very easy to avoid eye contact and say, ‘Check back with us next year,'” she said to several dozen guests at the Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna and others watching on Facebook Live.

But many businesses and individuals stepped up to the plate, allowing the organization which partners with and funds nonprofits serving the community in a variety of ways to once again eclipse $1 million in funds raised.

As they enter another campaign, the delta variant of COVID-19 is forcing people to reconsider how they go about their daily lives and interact with others.

“No matter what step we take, there are strong opinions, there are divisive voices, and it’s a challenge,” DeCicco said.

United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley 2021-22 campaign co-chairwoman Jan Dils speaks during the organization’s kickoff event Wednesday at the Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

She did not announce a specific fundraising goal for the campaign, but said after the breakfast event that they’re aiming high again.

“We need to get to $1.25 (million) again,” she said. “The community needs us to get to $1.25 million.”

As the pandemic brought many aspects of life to a halt before they returned with new concerns and restrictions, the United Way helped by distributing masks and hand sanitizer to nonprofits and setting up an online portal to allow people to schedule appointments in the chaotic early days of vaccinations, incoming board President Todd Nestor said.

The organization also joined in founding and funding the area’s Substance Use Collaborative and continued to support organizations addressing other challenges that didn’t sit the pandemic out.

Playing on the campaign’s theme of “One Team, United in the Game,” DeCicco compared the United Way’s supporters to a football team and said everyone’s role is important. Then, she asked them to dig a little deeper and do a little more.

Incoming United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley board President Todd Nestor speaks during the organization’s kickoff event Wednesday at the Grand Pointe Conference Center in Vienna. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“If you’re a cheerleader, can you cheer louder this year? Because it matters,” she said. “If your role is a check writer… this year, I need you to give a little more. … Could you advocate more? Could you be more intentional with your social media?”

Nestor praised the work DeCicco and the rest of the staff have done during the pandemic.

“They’ve delivered every time they ran into an issue,” he said.

During the breakfast, Art Hunt and Adam Ellis were honored as the United Way’s Volunteers of the Year and North Bend Wealth Management was recognized as the Community Partner of the Year.

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