ASHLAND – United Way of Ashland County is encouraging community members to find their inner hero this year.

“It’s the super hero in you that makes you feel powerful, that makes you feel engaged and strong and that makes you feel like you can go out and make a change,” Stacy Schiemann, executive director of the local United Way chapter, said at a kick-off breakfast at Ashland University Thursday.

The breakfast marked the official start of United Way’s 2019 “The Hero In U” Campaign, but a dozen local businesses and institutions designated as United Way “Pacesetters” have already begun raising money toward the $990,000 campaign goal. Collectively, the Pacesetters have set a goal to raise $308,625, and several of the groups have already surpassed their individual goals.

Schiemann said the superhero theme felt like a good one for this year’s campaign because it empowers people to act.

“Superheroes for us doesn’t mean you need to jump off buildings or have super strength or super speed or teleport. What we’re really asking is, ‘What can you do in your life to create change for others?'”

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United Way of Ashland County’s annual campaign is designed to raise money for 27 specific programs of the organization’s 15 partner agencies throughout Ashland County, freeing up those agencies to spend more time on their missions and less time fundraising.

The partner agencies are ACCESS, American Red Cross, Appleseed Community Mental Health Safe Haven Shelter, Ashland County Cancer Association, Ashland Christian Health Center, Ashland County Council on Aging, Ashland County Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Ashland Parenting Plus, Ashland Y, Associated Charities, Catholic Charities, Hospice of North Central Ohio, Kidney Foundation of Ohio, Olive Tree Care Program and Salvation Army.

The local United Way is funding five new programs for the first time this year, including ACCESS’s homeless services, Ashland Christian Health Center’s Patient Medication Assistance Program, Appleseed’s Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids Program, Ashland Parenting Plus’s Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program, Olive Tree’s Aftercare Program and Ashland Y’s Special Olympics.

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This year’s campaign efforts are led by volunteer campaign co-chairs Todd and Krissy Geren.

Pacesetters this year include Abbott Ashland Retirees and Alumni, Ashland City Schools, Ashland University, Ashland County West Holmes Career Center, BCU Electric, Campbell’s Snyder’s lance, Centreea Co-Op, Donley Ford Auto Group, First-Knox National Bank, Loudonville-Perrysville Schools, Lutheran Social Services and University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center. United Way’s partner agencies are also Pacesetters for the campaign.

For more information about United Way of Ashland County or to donate, visit uwashlandoh.org or call 419-281-5551.

Ashland/Richland Source – Courtney McNaull, Staff Reporter