The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

September 13, 2013

United Way of Ashtabula County kicks off its 2013-14 campaign

Star Beacon

SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — A video detailing the progress of how a young girl overcame a significant challenge to become an area professional highlighted the 2013-2014 United Way of Ashtabula County Campaign kickoff event Thursday morning at Martini’s Restaurant.

The video shows clips of a 4-year-old Kelli Coxe, now Kelli Jones, struggling with a speech problem and concludes with her explaining how the Ashtabula County Speech and Rehabilitation Center made a difference in her life.

Jones, now an administrative assistant to Kent State University Ashtabula Campus Dean Stocker, explains how the center, a United Way organization, helped her prepare for school and life. “My success was a real team effort between my family, my therapist and the United Way,” Jones said in the video.

She detailed how her mother, Kathleen, realized Kelli had a problem and lobbied hard for therapy that lasted three years and prepared Kelli for kindergarten.

The video was shown Thursday morning at Martini’s Restaurant to  kick off the annual corporate giving program.

Randy Jones, executive director of United Way of Ashtabula County, said the event is a way to thank employers for their work in making the campaign a success before it even begins in earnest.

Jones said 65 percent of the funds raised in the annual campaign come from corporate payroll deduction programs.

The Rev. Fred Grimm, and his wife Dawn, are the co-chairs of the campaign. Grimm serves St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jefferson and has been involved with the United Way for more than a decade.

Grimm said he will be going to different businesses, and other employers, to encourage employees to join the payroll deduction program. He said Ashtabula County residents need to be proud of their community.

He said he has traveled all over the world, and the United States, while serving in the military. “There are no finer people than those in Ashtabula County,” Grimm said.

Randy Jones, no relation to Kelli Jones, said the United Way supports 23 different organizations and also has taken on its own project to encourage literacy in Ashtabula County.

The United Way works with Dolly Parton Imagination Library to provide 600 children, between birth and 5 years old, with a new book through the mail every month. He said there was a need to help prepare children for kindergarten and the group decided to make the project a reality last year.

Randy Jones asked companies to seek volunteers from their company, or organization, to paint and clean a Main Avenue building in Ashtabula that will soon become the home of the Ashtabula Senior Center. He said the event will occur on Oct. 26.

“We have a lot of needs in this county and we are in this together,” he said.