McHENRY – What can $1 a day do in McHenry County? As the leadership team at Brake Parts Inc. recently learned, it helps one in four people in need throughout McHenry County, according to the United Way of Greater McHenry County.
Steve Otten, executive director for the United Way of Greater McHenry County, presented David Overbeeke, president and CEO of BPI, with the United Way Landmark Award, which goes to companies that raise $100,000 or more for the United Way in the year-long fundraising drive.
During the award presentation this month, leaders from BPI and the United Way of Greater McHenry Country discussed ways to shine a spotlight on the need within McHenry county, and additional ways to increase business and community support for the United Way campaign.
“We truly appreciate the support,” Otten said. “You have to partner with people in order for it to be a victory for everybody. BPI is definitely one of the most valued partners we have in helping us reach our goals.”
The group discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by United Way. As he moves forward with his upcoming campaign, Otten said that the ideas discussed during the meeting will help United Way reach out more effectively to the larger community.
“The United Way is something that I’ve always participated in,” Overbeeke said. “My wife has a real passion for helping kids, so we’ve been involved for a long time.”
Overbeeke said he tries to drive that same mentality at McHenry-based BPI, and it seems to be working. While some people believe only high earners can afford to donate to organizations like the United Way, Overbeeke noted that almost all BPI employees contribute to the United Way regardless of their wages or compensation.
“These folks always come up and hit 100 percent participation in very short order. They may give a dollar a week, but it adds up in a hurry,” he said.
Overbeeke adds that he hopes the push within his own business inspires other large businesses in McHenry County to recognize the need within the community and follow BPI’s example.
“One of four is a lot of people," Overbeeke said. “If they realized what’s really going on in our community and the true benefit of their giving, I know other businesses would step up and do the right thing.”
Otten said the United Way and the community is one big partnership, but it can’t flourish if just a minimal part of the community buys in. “We need to knock on new doors and get other companies to buy in, because that’s where we’re going to succeed and help the greatest number of people.”
Megan Harned, also of the United Way, gave some interesting food for thought and illustrated that turning a life around can happen with a minimal donation. She said that more than 159,000 people are employed in McHenry County. “If everyone gave just a little bit, just a dollar a week, we could raise more than $8 million. When you combine your $52 with another corporation’s $50,000, you have power to do great things.”
Harned also said that 90 percent of campaign contributions come from employee and corporate donations, but it if someone doesn’t work for an employer who supports the United Way campaign, he or she may not think of contributing to the United Way.
“I think one of the things we have working in our favor is the fact that the money you give stays in McHenry County,” said Otten. He realizes that people want to know where there money is going, and Otten wants them to know that their donations help people specifically in McHenry County.
“Every donation stays right here to help your neighbors,” he said.