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United Way surpasses goal

Organization to offer phone referral service

STERLING – It was a good year for the United Way of Whiteside County.

The organization, which unites people and resources to support agencies and programs that help the community, surpassed its 2012 campaign goal of $710,000.

Individuals, businesses and community organizations together raised $711,800, Executive Director Russ Siefken said at the annual campaign celebration Thursday.

“Improving one life at a time has a ripple effect,” he said. “It feels good. It does good.

“To everyone who dug just a little deeper this year and helped us raise $711,800: Your gifts, your voice, your talents, they’re all unique and they’re all important to our partner agencies and the programs they provide,” he said. “When you share these with others, you join that movement of ‘live united.’

It was such a good year that United Way of Whiteside County announced it will soon join the national 2-1-1 phone system, adding another service to its arsenal.

It’s a free, confidential service that connects callers with information and referrals to government agencies and community services, such as housing assistance, food pantries, child care, senior citizens services and volunteer opportunities, among other things.

The United Way will pay for the service, Siefken said.

“This is something we know we have needed for a long time,” he said.

The 2-1-1 service is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by trained volunteers at Providing Access to Help in Bloomington. The phone system is connected to a database and pulls localized resources based on callers’ area codes and prefixes. Volunteers can assist with crisis situations, if necessary.

The service debuted in 13 counties in Illinois in 2009. Whiteside County will become the 21st county to come online, hopefully by late May or early June, Siefken said.

Go to to learn more about the service.

'Live United' honorees

The United Way of Whiteside County recognized individuals and businesses that contributed to the success of the 2012 campaign at its annual celebration Thursday.

– Partner agency with the largest increase in contributions: Tri-County Opportunities Council, Rock Falls.

– School with the largest increase in contributions: Jefferson Elementary School, Sterling.

– Company with the largest increase in contributions, major firms division: Wahl Clipper Corp., Sterling.

– Company with the largest increase in contributions, commercial division: SBM Business Equipment, Sterling.

– Government agency: Sterling municipal code enforcement department.

– Company of the Year Award: CGH Medical Center.

– Spirit Award: Anchor Coupling, Sterling.

– Rookie of the Year Award: Mike Sprague.

– Diki Bull Award: Joe Robbins, principal of Northside and Southside elementary schools in Morrison.

The United Way also honored two organizations with $200 gift certificates to the Sauk Valley Food Bank:

– Shepherd's Cafe at Wesley United Methodist Church in Sterling, which serves free meals to families every other Wednesday from September through May.

– First United Methodist Church in Sterling for its Loaves and Fishes program, which serves breakfast to people 5 days a week.

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