Wauseon Man Enjoys Leading United Way In Fulton County

toddmyersGiving locally is more than a cliché for a local man, it’s a driving force in his life.

Todd Myers heads the United Way of Fulton County campaign for 2016 a role he has held for two years. Giving to support the United Way has been part of his life for his working career.

Myers is in commercial banking and lending. He is married and has two grown sons.

He is a lifelong resident of Wauseon as is his wife, Laurie.

He attended Ohio University for a while and graduated from Bowling Green in 1983. He moved back to Wauseon but has worked his adult life in Toledo.

Still, despite being an Ohio native, he roots for “that school up north.” A trait he shares with half his neighbors. He has a big Block M flag on the flag pole on an island in the cul-de-sac where he resides.

Myers has been a “fair share” giver for 33 years. It was something the bank encouraged its employees to do, he said.

“For me it kind of evolved,” Myers said. “At first it was all the programs they were showing me in Toledo.”

Then the Community Chest in Fulton County became the United Way of Fulton County, Myers said. At first his money supported the programs in Toledo, but he wanted to be more efficient in how those dollars were distributed.

The local effort is different from Toledo where the agency there doles out money to programs, while the Fulton County chapter has its own programs as well as supporting others, Myers said. The local programs include combating childhood obesity and promoting healthy diets for kids.

The list of specific programs include: Crunch Out Obesity, Financial Empowerment, an after school program and Serving Up My Plate.”

“Those programs are actually run by the United Way,” Myers said. “Funding for that has been hit or miss, so that’s what we have been trying to do is increase our support.”

There is no formal goal this year, Myers said. Last year the agency collected $340,000 and he would like to see that exceeded by 10 percent this year, he said.

“We increased last year and we are hoping to again,” Myers said.

The total reflects the efforts to rebuild a network of giving since the 2008 recession left everything in shambles. The giving is back on a upward trend, he said.

He has only been involved the last two years. He credits Director Gina Saaf and his predecessors for any successes.

“Three years ago I was solicited to be on the cabinet,” Myers said. “The following year I served as chair and I was asked to come back.”

Myers’ local connections are vital to his success in helping the organization reach its goals, Saaf said.

He is from the community, so he understands the importance of the programs we are providing to Fulton County residents, she said.

“Todd is a wonderful asset to our organization, serving as Campaign Chair for the second year in a row,” Saaf said. “We really depend on volunteers like Todd and the rest of the campaign cabinet to help us reach out to the public for support. Without that, we would not be able to have the huge impact that our internal and partner agency programs provide right here in Fulton County.”

The large part of the drive is direct mailing, but there is also soliciting commercial businesses. The goal is direct donations, matching gifts or incentives to get their employees to participate.

Myers cited Sauder Woodworking as one of the largest participating firms. They do a matching program and invite their employees who give to a luncheon.

The hospital and schools are big supporters. Teachers in most of the districts have been supportive.

“It’s really tapping into how the company culture is,” Myers said. “What fits for them.”

Myers likes to go out and talk to companies and meeting people. It’s what he does for a living and the contacts he’s made in his 33-year career has helped him gain access for the campaigns.

And he likes meeting new contacts as well. Once he’s tapped into a company culture, he helps figure out the right program or incentive. That could be paid days off, a jeans day or a luncheon, he said.

The goal is to show them what their money goes to support.

“Then it grows from there,” Myers said. “That’s the end objective.”

Unlike Toledo which has a major benefactor who supplies all their funding, Fulton County has to continuously go out and sell the programs and cause. There are some deep roots, but could be deeper, Myers said.

“All of the companies in the county are extremely generous, but they have other charities they are supporting,” Myers said. “We’ve got some work to do to make it better.”

The county has been aided by several large companies, most recently Nature Fresh greenhouses and North Star Steel, among others, Myers said. There continues to be growth, so much so there are large companies he has not met yet, he said.

The campaign is aiming to wrap up solicitations by the end of November and have employee contributions completed by the end of the year.

The campaign gets the word out through direct solicitations and mailers for individual donors.

“We are also calling on companies to get our appeals within the organization,” Myers said.

Sauder has created a short video about the agency which is on the United Way website,There is a segment that shows how the giving fits in from a kid’s perspective, he said.

“So many of the program we do are focused on kids and families,” Myers said. “It’s a handy little piece.”

For more information, visit http://www.unitedwayfultoncountyoh.org/

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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