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Updated 10:00 AM October 16, 2006




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Employees: Say yes to United Way

U-M employees who contribute to the annual United Way campaign are confident that they get more than they give.

"I think it is doing the right thing—helping the United Way help others," says Michelle Spornhauer, graduate admissions and financial aid coordinator, who has chaired the United Way campaign in the Department of Political Science since starting work at the University in 1999.

"You never know when you will be the person who needs the help of others," Spornhauer says. "Two years ago, on the Day of Caring, I helped plant, weed and clean the parking lot at the Packard Community Clinic. This past September, I had to find a doctor that would take my disabled mom's Medicaid. Sure enough, I found one at the Packard Community Clinic."

Sharyn Sivyer, senior project representative in the Division of Research Development and Administration, has contributed for 24 years and has been a United Way volunteer for nearly that long.

"I donate to United Way because I believe in giving back," she says. "It is important that these agencies exist. Can you imagine living in a world without the Red Cross?"

Sivyer says payroll deduction is an easy and painless way to contribute. "What is particularly satisfying to me is participating in the Panel Distribution Committee for United Way. This committee visits four agencies each annual funding cycle and hears their presentations of what they did with the previous year's donations and how much they are requesting for next year's programs.

"It is unbelievably gratifying to see how these dedicated agencies and their hard-working employees work to meet the needs of those in this community who need our help. I know where the money comes from and how it is spent—for that reason I can confidently encourage participation."

James Kosteva, U-M campaign coordinator for the past 12 years, reports that since the Sept. 12 United Way drive kickoff breakfast at the Michigan League, roughly 6 percent of this year's goal of $1 million in donations has been pledged. Last year, the campaign raised $928,583.

"Giving to the United Way is an investment in our community and one that deserves our support," says President Mary Sue Coleman.

"Every one of us on campus may have a family member or neighbor or a colleague who at one time or another had been in a time of crisis or a time of need and has thus relied upon the services of the health and human service agencies that are supported by our United Way pledges and contributions," Kosteva says.

The service agencies range from the Alzheimer's Association, Michigan Great Lakes Chapter, to the Whitmore Lake Community Health Agency. Donors can designate general areas they would like to see served by their donations.

For the first time, U-M faculty and staff now can choose one of three ways to donate to the United Way fund drive: Filling out a pledge card, payroll deduction via Wolverine Access or electronic bank transfer.

For information on how to donate, go to or call the U-M United Way office at 763-3109.

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