02/26/12 — United Way holds annual meeting, gives volunteer award

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United Way holds annual meeting, gives volunteer award

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on February 26, 2012 1:50 AM

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Steve Parr, United Way of Wayne County executive director, presents Sherry Rogers with the Emil Rosenthal Volunteer of the Year award at the annual meeting Thursday.

Sherry Rogers had lived and worked in Wayne County her entire life, but didn't realize that there was a defense contractor employing more than 400 workers right in her own hometown.

As a career employee at Wayne Memorial Hospital, the director of staff development had put in 34 years of work, but a calling to help the United Way of Wayne County years ago led her to learn more about her community than ever before.

Her eight years of being a loaned executive -- and training others -- led to her being named the local United Way's Emil Rosenthal Volunteer of the Year at its annual meeting Thursday. The award is named for the late Emil Rosenthal, who served as the president of the United Way of Wayne County in 1973.

Through her work as a loaned executive -- an executive who volunteers time with other companies to assist with their United Way funding campaigns -- and her dedication to training other loaned executives, Mrs. Rogers was exposed to several companies she otherwise wouldn't have known existed.

"We're assigned three to four companies that we work with to try to organize their campaign for their company," she said, noting that her partnership with AAR Corp. was an opportunity to see the full impact of industry on Wayne County. "I didn't even know they existed. Security was very tight and the company was very impressive. Their folks are very nice.

"Even though I've lived here my whole life, sometimes you don't get to see the big picture of the businesses that make the big impact on our county."

But Mrs. Rogers' involvement with the United Way also gave her a peek into its impact on those in need across the county, including seniors who depend on Meals on Wheels to maintain their independence.

"We have gone on training days with Meals on Wheels and actually delivered meals. It's very valuable for me to see what it's like for these older people who need meals but also need somebody to check on them and somebody to talk to," she said.

She spoke of a 91-year-old who spoke at one meeting who said that Meals on Wheels allowed him to live on his own -- something he likely couldn't do without the United Way. Gaining the knowledge that her contributions were having a real impact on lives was a pleasant realization, she said.

"We get a lot out of (volunteering) as well," she said.

The banquet was also an opportunity for Julie Daniels, the Community Campaign Chair for 2011, to discuss the results of the United Way fundraising drive. A total of $1,222,758 was invested into the agency -- 94 percent of its goal -- which is expected to impact more than 24,000 lives in Wayne County.