United Way Celebrates on the Silver Screen

On Tuesday night, there was a special happening at the Portage 16 IMAX in Portage, IN. This was the location for the United Way of Porter County's Annual Celebration. This unique event brought their successful 2013-2014 "Be The One" Campaign to a close in style.

"Today we are celebrating the end of our Campaign and thanking everyone who donated by coming together after a year of hard work," Sharon Kish, President of the United Way of Porter County, said.

"We raised around $1.8 million for 38 agencies throughout Porter County that are education, income and health-centered. 93% of every dollar that we raise goes back into the community in some way," Campaign Co-Chair Greg Farrall said. "I think we did great this year in our 'Be The One' Campaign. A lot of positive things took place and some wonderful successes happened that were brand new, which I am really excited about because new companies are coming to Porter County, they are bringing jobs with them and bringing people that are philanthropic. We have a very giving community."

This is the first United Way function to take place at the Portage 16 IMAX. Farrall, who is the founder and President of Farrall Wealth, wanted to do something different and special to cap this Campaign.

"I'm not shy and I like to enjoy a good party," Farrall explained. "So on my watch, we came up with a new idea. The Portage IMAX has been very beneficial to us, very giving employees. So we wanted to try something different. This is more of a mixer than a dinner."

Kevin Morgan, Head Manager of the Portage 16 IMAX was happy to accommodate when Farrall looked to his company for assistance.

"The United Way asked us to help and we were happy to jump in and help out," Morgan said. "We do events like this throughout the year and the mezzanine is a great space to host a party. Our owner wants to be a part of the community so this is how we are getting involved. And this was more that I was expecting; we have a nice, full crowd here tonight!"

Things started off with drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the balcony overlooking the lobby at the IMAX. Well dressed guests milled about chatting and enjoying the happy occasion. Afterward everyone made their way to Theater 15 and looked on happily as awards were presented to worthy individuals and businesses who have helped the United Way this past year. Following the awards ceremony, guests had the opportunity to stay and watch a movie of their choice – a great way to end a great evening.

Lots of people and organizations were recognized at the awards ceremony for their support of the United Way. Here is the list of who won what award:

Outstanding Performance in a Lead Role for United Way ImpactCommunity Investment. Community Investment funded programs served more than 37,000 people in Porter County last year. Laurie Mullet, Chair for the Community Impact Committee was presented with the Shining Star Award.

Outstanding Achievement in Direction of Youth – Success by 6. This NWI program ensures that kids entering kindergarten have the tools and skills they need to succeed. Jennifer Wright, Executive Director for Hilltop Neighborhood House, was presented with the 4th annual NWI Success By 6 "Service to Children Award".

Best Short Film – Reading Buddies, Tristen Jr. The United Way and the Valparaiso University girls softball team delivered 3,400 stuffed animals to 106 1st and 2nd grade classrooms in NWI so that students could participate in the Reading Buddies program. This film showed the reaction and progress of one of the students, Tristen.

Outstanding Performance in Promoting United WayThe Times. The Times is very involved in the United Way of Porter County's mission and they help to promote and take part in their events.

Outstanding Achievement in Campaign Direction by a Dynamic Duo – Greg and Elizabeth Farrall. As Co-Chairs for the 2013-2014 "Be The One" Campaign, they both put in a lot of time and effort to make sure that the Campaign was successful.

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role - Campaign Ambassadors: JoElla DePra, 1st Source Bank, Kaye Frataccia retired Valparaiso Schools teacher, Rene Martin, First Merchants Bank, Kris Parker, Purdue Extension – Porter County, Tony Peuquet, Chester, Inc., Ken Turner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Loaned Executives and their Sponsors: Tom Albano, Purdue North Central, Tara Bowen, 1st Source Bank, Betsy Cuellar, Visiting Nurses Association, Donna Demko, Valparaiso Family YMCA, Cathie Dull, Boys and Girls Club of Porter County, Kaye Frataccia, retired Valparaiso Schools teacher, Kathleen McClure, Housing Opportunities, Keisha Morgan, Teachers Credit Union, Marvin Tapp, NIPSCO, Nancy VonVolkenburgh, Family & Youth Services Bureau, Porter County Education Services, Porter Regional Hospital, Porter-Starke Services, Task Force Tips.

Outstanding Achievement in Campaign DesignCSI and Centier Bank. Both companies were presented with the Trailblazer Award which is given to innovative leaders who create new paths which others can follow and be successful. Both of these companies had successful online campaigns and they increased them by more than 10%.

Mark Chamberlain, Joe and Laurie Mullett, Tim Rice, Dr. Jerry and Linda Rodenbarger, Ken and Christine Turner, and Chuck Welter and Donna Howell were recognized by the United Way of America's National Tocquevill Society, which is the highest level of support among leadership donors. Mark Chamberlain and Tim Rice were presented with the Pacesetter Award. They represent Lakeside Wealth Management and were the first to give gifts to the Campaign and then followed with their individual Tocqueville donations.

Company of the Year – Indiana Beverage. Locally and family-owned, Indiana Beverage is a huge supporter of the United Way of Porter County. The company matched all employee gifts to the Campaign by 100%, which increased the total giving by 80%. They are also the beverage sponsor for the United Way's Golf Classic.

Outstanding Agency Professional Award – Beth Wrobel, President of Healthlinc. She and her staff work very hard to make sure that medical care is available to low-income families and those without insurance who need it in NWI.

Dorothy M. Porter Award – Todd Wagenblast, CFO for Indiana Beverage and Treasurer on the United Way of Porter County's Executive Board. He is very committed to United Way's mission, he provides excellent leadership and guidance to the United Way staff, gives lots of support for all of their fundraisers, and helps solidify the financial foundation for the organization. Wagenblast always has a positive attitude and he conducts himself with professionalism and grace.

Best Motion Picture – the "Be The One" Campaign Video. This was produced by Group7even and Jesse Bob Harper Productions.

The total amount raised during this Campaign was $1,737,784. These funds will be put to good use in the communities and help to brighten the lives of many families and individuals in NWI. Next year, the new Campaign Chairs, Larry McAfee and his daughter Brooke McAfee, will bring more success and good things to the United Way of Porter County. We look forward to the continued growth and prosperity in the coming year.

Click here to view more photos from the event!

Sponsors for the event: Indiana Beverage, Farrall Wealth