This past year’s Nevada United Way leaders, Laurie Rohlfing and Dr. Steve Gray, are being heralded for the work that they, and their cabinet members, did to raise $123,999 for the 2017 United Way Campaign in Nevada. The work that leaders put in, plus the generosity of Nevada, contributed to the fact that United Way of Story County surpassed its goal of raising $2,200,000 overall.

“Both (Rohlfing and Gray) are fabulous community leaders,” said Jean Kresse, president and CEO of United Way of Story County.

Rohlfing is branch manager at Great Western Bank in Nevada, and has worked with the United Way campaign for many years doing various things. “Either with our employer’s campaign, delivering envelopes or helping with other businesses,” she said, she’s enjoyed helping with the worthy cause. “It’s (United Way) a place you can put your money and know it goes to a variety of entities…and stays right here in Story County.”

Rohlfing said she is especially grateful for the United Way initiatives that help with hunger in the local communities.

Rohlfing said she is also proud of the incredible contributions made by the Nevada School District and looked to Gray to comment more on that.

Gray, superintendent of schools in Nevada, said it’s not really about the school, but about the employees, who typically raise double the amount of the next highest fundraising school in the county. For 2017, United Way took in $20,893 from the Nevada Schools’ employees. In the past five years, in fact, Nevada Schools has raised over $20,000 per year for United Way, while the next highest school in the county has raised between $9,000 and $12,000 a year.

“I believe our employees give so generously because they see the district benefits of this partnership for our students,” Gray said. He lists some examples: Iowa Reading Corps Pilot, which started in 2013; Summer Learning Program, which started in 2014; transportation; STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) programming; Women United, which started in 2015; Super K Program, which started in 2017 and K-3 Reading Buddies, which also started in 2017 . He said Nevada also realizes the need for services, because 50 percent of the district children’s families fall below the poverty line. The district has seen over 10,000 meals served and over 2,000 volunteer hours contributed to help families.

Gray himself is happy to help lead the United Way campaign, because, he said, “Serving youth is the core of my own personal mission and United Way of Story County has been a tremendous partner to Nevada Schools’ supplemental services and programming to children that we might not otherwise be able to offer.”

Kresse agrees that Nevada showcases the impact of United Way in many ways. “Perhaps the most visible is the Food for Thought program — the summer meal and enrichment program,” she said. “In partnership with Story County Reads, the Nevada School District embraced the Food for Thought program. We piloted the effort during the summer of 2013 (when it was first held as a pilot at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church).” Food for Thought, majorly supported by the school district, has since been held at Central Elementary School.

“There are other great things happening in Nevada and the rest of Story County because of the investments the community makes in the campaign,” Kresse said. “In partnership with the Nevada Schools, we also have Iowa Reading Corps and the BackPack Program (through the Food Bank of Iowa). In the community, our Women United program has held money management series several times. Our upcoming LIVE UNITED Food Drive will help stock the shelves before summer starts and kids no longer have lunch at school. Many of the programs we support through the ASSET process are open to all Story County residents.”

Nevada contributions to the 2017 United Way campaign amount of $123,999 came from 23 small businesses and employee campaigns in 14 organizations in Nevada. Kresse said retirees in Nevada contributed more than $9,000 this year.

“Steve and Laurie were tremendous leaders of a stellar group of volunteers. Their passion for United Way excites the people they are working with, which makes a big difference in the annual campaign, and in turn, funds programs impacting health, education and financial stability in our communities.”

Rohlfing and Gray have agreed to repeat as campaign leaders this coming fall. “We couldn’t be more thrilled,” Kresse said.