United Way of Ashland County
Uniting the caring power of our community to improve lives in Ashland County.
Providing connections that turn generosity into large scale good.
On October 1, 1929, The Ashland Times Gazette announced to the community, “Ashland To Have Community Chest”. A seven-member Board of Governors was selected to seek volunteers and prepare to hold the first campaign by November 1 of that year.
The Community Chest continued until 1957. At that time, the agencies represented by Community Chest were facing financial difficulty, largely because there were seven other fundraising drives every year.
The needed changes became a reality when a Community Chest Board member shared a magazine article about the successful “united” fund-raiser held in Niles, Michigan. A group of volunteers went to Michigan and when they returned, they held a public meeting on April 1, 1957, to share what they had learned. At that meeting, they put the Community Chest to rest, and the United Appeal of Ashland County was born.
On May 31, 1957, the Articles of Incorporation were signed. The first Board of Trustees for the United Appeal were J. Robert Tipton, Glenn E. Falkner, Richard Topper, and Robert Roland. The first campaign was an overwhelming success with the overall goal exceeded by 31%. Founding Father Robert Tipton was quoted as saying: “United Appeal is one of the city-county endeavors that we can be most proud of. It would be hard to overestimate the good UA has done for this community, both for the givers and the receivers.”
Growth of the Organization
The Community Chest Board of Governors managed the entire organization with volunteers. This continued even after United Appeal began in 1957 with a 27-member volunteer Board of Trustees. For an abbreviated time, Dr. Harold Oyster handled the management of the organization, as a volunteer. In 1981 the remarkably successful Pacesetter Campaign began under the leadership of Board President Tom Seddon. In the “golden years” of campaign growth the goal increased from $253,500 in 1981 to $621,500 in 1990. Ten out of those 11 years the goal was exceeded by the caring donors and volunteer campaign team. Jay Morris was hired as the first full time paid Executive Director in June 1982. Serving until mid-1985. Morris was replaced by Jan Archer, and she led the transition to the Trustee approved affiliation with the national United Way organization and now became known as United Way of Ashland County in 1990. Jan stepped down in 1994. Chris Vanderzyden led the newly minted United Way of Ashland County from 1994 until 1996. In 1996, the directorship changed once again with Kay Conrad replacing Vanderzyden, followed by Jan Broomhall and then the infamous Ev DeVaul in 2006.
In 1996, under the leadership of Director Kay Conrad, a transition to program agency funding with accountability standards and outcomes became an emphasis of evaluation by the Allocation committee. Community needs assessments helped vet the best investment of donor contributions. Kay is credited with starting the “Day of Caring” in 1987 and it is now called The Kay Conrad Day of Caring in her memory. In 2004 Jan Broomall was announced as the new director with the retirement of Kay Conrad. Jan Broomhall led the organization for a brief period of time and then announced her resignation in May of 2006. After a lengthy search, Ev DeVaul was tapped as the new Executive Director in October 2006, accepting the challenge in the middle of the 2007 campaign drive.
In 2008, through a community needs assessment, the “new United Way” was introduced to the citizens of Ashland County. The new Community Impact model continued the Agency Impact support while bringing new emphasis to Focused Impact on solving local problems with local solutions in the areas of health, education, and financial stability. These are the building blocks for a good life—a quality education that provides skills that lead to a stable job, sufficient income to support a family, maintaining good health and meeting basic needs throughout a lifetime.
2007-2017 Ev DeVaul is credited with the largest and most successful campaigns in the history of the organization. He also transitioned the organization into a year-round fundraising model and brought a sense of energy to each of the campaigns and to all of the United Way events. Wonder Dogs were his specialty and if you were lucky enough to have one it meant that you were helping reach the campaign goal. Ev and the Wonder Dogs retired in January of 2017, but he can be found at many of the United Way events.
Present – Stacy Schiemann was hired in January 2017 and leads the organization through the present day. Stacy’s background in social work and direct practice along with her expertise in managing nonprofit social service agencies gives her a firsthand understanding of the services the agencies provide and how important they are to the community.
Today United Way of Ashland County supports 14 partner agencies with 24 programs.
- Appleseed Community Mental Health/Safe Haven
- Ashland Christian Health
- Ashland County Council on Aging
- Ashland Parenting Plus
- Associated Charities
- Children’s Advocacy Center
- Hospice of NCO
- Kidney Foundation
- Olive Tree Care
- Red Cross – Heartland Region
- The Salvation Army Kroc Center
- the Y – Ashland Family YMCA