May the 4th (Star Wars Day) was more than just a day to celebrate the iconic film franchise in Bucks County.
Last Friday also marked the United Way of Bucks County’s annual breakfast. In the ballroom at Spring Mill Manor in Northampton, stakeholders and United Way of Bucks County leadership gathered to highlight the good its programs brought to the area over the past year and focus on where the nonprofit is headed.
After 65 years, the Falls Township-based United Way of Bucks County shifted the way it focused its funding and efforts in 2017. It moved from a model of helping fund dozens of programs to taking a more active role in teaming up with partners of all types to focus on specific problems that impact the community.
The past year has focused on providing nutritious meals for those in need, aiding the homeless and low-income residents, focusing on early childhood education, and supporting seniors.
Some of the nonprofit’s major successes that were celebrated last week were the Fresh Connect program that teams up numerous nonprofits and businesses to offer free farm-style markets for low-income families at locations in Bristol Township and Ottsville, efforts to connect young learners to educational resources, and the street outreach homeless program.
The United Way of Bucks County noted in their annual report that last year 28 tons of food were donated to local pantries, 800 girls attended the #girlSTEM conference, $100,380 worth of school supplies were distributed through the Stuff the Bus drive, 35,000 pounds of eggs provided through the Bucks Knocks Out Hunger initiative, 997 kids received gift cards through the Holiday Gift Card Drive, more than 220 households were aided by the street outreach program, and $3.2 million was invested through programs supported by the nonprofit.
“Our vision is simple. We want our team – and the Bucks County nonprofit community – to be the best at turning resources into results,” United Way of Bucks County CEO and President Marissa Christie wrote in the group’s annual report.
The nonprofit recognized Catherine McElroy, the recently retired Associate provost of Academic and Curricular Services at Bucks County Community College. with the Kelton Service Award; Brian Jeter, a longtime United Way supporter and Comcast employee, was presented the Paul Sauerbry Award; and the team at Bucks County Community College was recognized with the Campaign Volunteers Of The Year Award. Thirty-year United Way of Bucks County employee Patricia Winslow Gallagher was recognized for her service.
Todd Alderfer, a vice president at QNB Bank and incoming chair of United Way of Bucks County’s board, presented impact awards to Dr. Christine McKee for her role in coordinating the Pre-K Counts program, LevittownNow.com and NewtownPANow.com Publisher Tom Sofield for his support of the Stuff the Bus and Holiday Gift Card Drive, former Calkins Media Community Engagement Director Amy Gianficaro for her commitment to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, and Bristol Township-based Cummins Power Systems for support of nonprofit and its programs.
“I was shocked when I learned I was being presented the Financial Stability Impact Award and am blown away by the honor,” Sofield said. “The credit really goes to our readers who have stepped up and supported their neighbors through Stuff the Bus and with the Holiday Gift Card Drive for the past five years. The United Way team has been fantastic to work with and we look forward to continuing that partnership.
To go with the Star Wars theme, there was a photo station with lightsabers, Princes Leia hair pieces, Yoda ears, and people dressed as stormtroopers.
Christie marked 2017 as her first full year leading the United Way of Bucks County since former President and CEO Jamie Haddon left in 2016.