Community members live united through efforts of United Way of Tri-Valley Area

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Everett O'Neil, Verso Androscoggin Mill manager, holds the Gary A. LaGrange Community Impact Award given to mill employees for their support of the community through the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area. Verso employees surround him.

By Ann Bryant, Staff Writer

WILTON — The annual meeting and campaign celebration for the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area filled the meeting room at Calzolaio’s Pasta Company March 16.

Donors, partners and board members gathered to celebrate the 36th year of the organization with a recognition of people devoted to “living united.”

“We are blessed to have the community we have,” Peter Smith, board president, said of those who do not stand still but rise to meet the challenges every community faces.

The employees of Verso- Androscoggin Mill in Jay were awarded the Gary A. LaGrange Community Impact Award by Lisa Laflin, executive director of the UWTVA.

Despite the transitions and difficulties experienced this year at the local mill, employees continued their support pledging over $71,000 to the annual campaign, she said.

Everett O’Neil, Verso Androscoggin Mill manager, holds the Gary A. LaGrange Community Impact Award given to mill employees for their support of the community through the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area. Verso employees surround him.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

LaGrange, who helped save thousands in energy costs by construction of window inserts through the Community Energy Challenge, passed away in 2013.

He was noted for “seeking joy from what you give not what you get and acting without expectation,” Laflin said.

“It was a year of transition but I could not be prouder,” Everett O’Neil, Verso Androscoggin Mill manager, said of the 400 folks who work at the mill and earned the award.

Sally Speich was recognized with an honorable mention for her work in the community, including work with Literacy Volunteers which does so much for so many, Laflin said.

Employees of Barclaycard Wilton accepted the first annual Community Change Challenge Trophy from Nichole Ernest, community resource coordinator of the UWTVA.

Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, presents the Gary A. LaGrange Community Impact Award to Verso Androscoggin employees and mill Manager Everett O’Neil during Thursday’s annual meeting and campaign celebration.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

Spare change collected at several, local markets and businesses totaled $4,100. It was matched by Barclaycard to raise a total of $8,200, Ernest said of what will now become an annual event.

This year’s annual campaign has raised more than $553,000, to date, in dollars, goods and volunteer service, Becky Davis-Allen, campaign chair for 2016-2017, reported. But, the efforts to increase the amount will continue until the last day of the campaign on April 30.

Davis-Allen said she wanted to continue being a part of the work done over this campaign and will remain as Campaign Chair for another year.

“It was a year of transition,” she said of efforts to diversify the revenue stream and increase public awareness of the organization’s work.

The United Way’s mission “to unite people and resources to improve lives and build a strong and healthy community” supports services for people throughout Greater Franklin County. Funds raised help support Community Partners or organizations that provide services to make a difference and improve the lives of people from Coburn Gore to Livermore.

Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, presents the Gary A. LaGrange Community Impact Award to Verso Androscoggin employees and mill Manager Everett O’Neil during Thursday’s annual meeting and campaign celebration.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

Special recognition was acknowledged for several including Barclaycard US and Barclaycard US Wilton, Dan and Amy Palmer, Gifford’s Ice Cream, Teacher’s Lounge Mafia, University of Maine at Farmington, The Dugout, Bruce Manzer Inc., Sue Davis- Maine Huts and Trails, Gayle Long, LEAP, Inc., Maine State employees and several service enterprise participants and dollar drive participants.

Workplace campaign awards were also given out.

Gayle Long unveiled a new United Way messaging, Live Here, Give Here, Help Here, for the Communications and Marketing Committee.

Those attending the meeting elected nominated officers for 2017 including Peter Smith, president; Dee Webber, vice president; Shaun Riggs, treasurer; and Ashley Montgomery, secretary.

Mary Frank was recognized for completing six years of service on the board.

Ken Lust, Melissa Caminiti and Aaron Knapp were recognized for serving on the board during 2016. They are no longer serving.

Board members voted in for 2017 included Dee Webber, pastoral counselor starting a second term of three years; Barb Larson, County Seat Realty; Chris Hollingsworth, Spruce Mt. Elementary School, Beth Beaudoin, University Credit Union and Erica Emery, Rustic Roots Farm and RSU 9.

Representing Salem Economic Ministry, a Community Partner, Rev. Michele St. Cyr spoke of renovations undertaken at the ministry to provide temporary housing.

Larry Karno of Corporate Partner Coldwell Banker Sandy River Realty said the company is pledging to give UWTVA a portion of the commission on every house sold during April, May and June and more donations throughout the year.

Along with Sandy River Realty other sponsors were acknowledged including Dead River Company, No Parents Allowed and Calzolaio Pasta Company which donated the space and refreshments for those attending the meeting.

abryant@sunmediagroup.net

Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area, presents an honorable mention for the Gary A. LaGrange Community Impact Award to Sally Speich for her work in the community during the UWTVA’s annual meeting and campaign celebration.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

Employees of Barclaycard Wilton accept the first annual Community Change Challenge Trophy Thursday during the annual meeting and campaign celebration of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area. Nichole Ernest, community resource coordinator at UWTVA, left, presented the award.

(Ann Bryant/Franklin Journal)

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