United Way and Community Health Charities supporters who gathered April 24 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel were ready to celebrate. The annual campaign raised $6,894,855 to support 61 community agencies that provide essential services to those in need in Lincoln and nearly 150 programs that focus on education, income and health.
Campaign co-chairs Todd and Connie Duncan said they were proud of the “great individuals and organizations that provided leadership, which resulted in a positive conclusion” to the campaign. Connie Duncan, a former teacher and current member of Lincoln Public Schools’ board of education, said she was thrilled that a new Community Learning Center and Jump Start to Kindergarten will begin at Campbell Elementary as a result of the campaign.
“That is a big plus for those children,” she said.
More than 400 organizations supported the United Way/Community Health Charities campaign in 2016. The top supporters were Ameritas for its overall employee campaign and Union Bank & Trust for its support of the United Way Impact Fund and initiatives.
Among individuals who received special recognition was Linda Robinson Rutz, who received the 2016 Spirit of United Way Award. Rutz wrote her first check to United Way in 1977 and has been advocating for United Way ever since. The 2016 United Way President’s Award went to Duncan Aviation for outstanding dedication to the mission of United Way through its leadership, resources and time spent to solve community issues.
Scott Young, executive director of the Food Bank of Lincoln, received the United Way Speaker of the Year Award. Brad Anderson, who represented the Alzheimer’s Association-Nebraska Chapter, was honored for the second year in a row as Speaker of the Year for Community Health Charities.
Outgoing president of the United Way board of directors, Nick Cusick, noted that “The business landscape in Lincoln is ever-changing, but we cannot use that as an excuse to do less for those that need us most. The people that our dollars support are our neighbors. They are our friends and family.”
Dr. Steve Joel, superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools, was introduced as the incoming board chair.