Posted on Oct 07, 2017

Jim Hartley and Sue Hammersmith who are both members of the Adrian Morning Rotary Club spoke to us today. Specifically, Jim was chair of the Lenawee Cares campaign last year but still on the board and Sue is their Executive Director. They spoke to us today about the campaign in addition to giving us a history lesson on how the Lenawee United Way (UW) joined forces with the Lenawee Education Foundation.


Jim said it all started about 2 years ago when the leadership of the UW determined that they were not operating as efficiently as they needed to be at a time when current overhead could not be justified. So, the UW approached the Lenawee Community Foundation (LCF) and met with Sue and her board and suggested the two agencies form an alliance which the memberships of both groups agreed to.


The second campaign as a new organization has already begun and they were able to reduce operating costs by $100,000! They distributed a flyer at the meeting showing the various organizations they gave money to last year along with a complete list of Pillar Club members. These donors give minimum gifts of $1,000 annually. The money raised through annual Lenawee Cares campaigns, Jim confirmed, stays in Lenawee County. Ten percent of all donations goes into an endowment. As a result, in excess of $800,000 has been distributed since the Kellogg Foundation gift of $1M was placed in reserve some 15-20 years ago and allowed to grow!! The needs in this community are huge, Jim said, particularly when it comes to kids who need basic food and clothing.


Sue told the audience that some 18 community volunteers are involved each year in deciding to whom the money goes and those recommendations are approved by the LCF’s board. They prided themselves, once the decisions were made, on being able to get the money out as quickly as possible, she said.


Another program of Lenawee Cares is their Imagination Library through which 1,500 books per month (about $45,000/year) are distributed to pre-school program who are registered. The cost per child is approximately $30 per year. Another program is their Lenawee Youth Council who have sold Christmas Trees and Onions in the past. Members of this organization engage kids in volunteering in the community and make college visits. Snack Packs is yet another program Sue spoke about. Some 300 packs are delivered to children every week at Madison and Adrian schools for K through 8th grade with the help of the Adrian Morning Rotary Club, she said.


Lenawee Cares also serves as the fiduciary for the Lenawee County Access Network which is a program engaging kids to consider what they might want to do after high school. Sue closed by thanking people who had faith in what the UW and the LCM wanted to do. Consequently it is a much stronger organization serving the needs of this community. Thank you Sue and Jim.