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from The Morning Journal: United Way of Greater Lorain County hosts annual Celebration of Community Impact

Posted June 20, 2024
10:37 pm

By Martin McConnell

The United Way of Greater Lorain County, 642 Broadway in downtown Lorain, spent the last calendar year striving to make an impact in every aspect of the community, President and CEO Ryan Aroney said.

The organization presented its annual Celebration of Community Impact event June 20 at Lorain County Community College, 1005 Abbe Road North in Elyria.

“I’m extremely proud to say that over the past year, United Way of Greater Lorain County has invested over $2.3 million into our local communities,” Aroney said. “This investment supports our ongoing efforts to create lasting change, address root causes of complex issues and provide comprehensive support to those in need.”

Aroney said the work of the wider Lorain County community is integral to the United Way’s success this past year.

He gave thanks to the community’s continued support throughout 2023 and 2024, and said he hopes that their support will continue into the future.

“Our work is only possible with the support of our donors, volunteers and collaborative partners,” Aroney said. “Today is about celebrating our life-changing impact, and none of it would be possible without your support.”

Aroney also commended the work of 211 First Call for Help, one of the United Way’s leading programs in Lorain County.

Christine Matusik-Plas, United Way of Lorain County’s impact director, called the service extremely important to Northeast Ohio.

The 211 First Call for Help is a free, 24-hour information and referral hotline that confidentially connects individuals in need to resources that help, Matusik-Plas said.

“This service is important for two reasons,” she said. “First, it is the gateway to critical services.

“And second, we can monitor the data in real time based on real people’s call requests and web searches and use that data to inform our work moving forward.”

The event included a panel discussion moderated by Lynn Wrice-Head, program associate at the Community Foundation of Lorain County, discussed the United Community Assistance Network (UCAN) Community Collaborative which is focused on providing Lorain County residents with year-round access to emergency financial assistance for rent, utilities or other emergency basic needs at a single site geographically located in their neighborhoods.

Panelists included Rebecca Haywood of Neighborhood Alliance, Shean Bolton of the Salvation Army, Margie Flood of Oberlin Community Services, Nicolle Bellmore Pierse of Lorain County Office on Aging, Tim Wright of Catholic Charities and Melanie Shakarian of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Wrice-Head emphasized the importance of how UCAN has redesigned the social service system to address the financial stability of residents through a variety of local outlets.

“UCAN provides emergency financial assistance, advocacy and legal support for hardworking households and seniors in our community,” she said. “Our collective goal is to help families achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency, reducing the need for repeated assistance.”

Looking toward the future, the United Way is looking to create transformative, community-wide change throughout Lorain County, Aroney said.

He explained that the immediate future of the group’s efforts is focused on fostering the beginnings of that change.

“We are committed to providing high-quality, data-driven programming and wrap-around support,” Aroney said. “We aim to not only offer immediate assistance, but to create lasting change by addressing the root causes of financial instability and hardship.

“Together, we can make greater Lorain County a thriving community for every resident.”

More information on the United Way of Greater Lorain County is available at or by calling 440-277-6530.

Source: The Morning Journal - United Way of Greater Lorain County hosts annual Celebration of Community Impact


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