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United We Win! Campaign Kickoff

On Sept. 21, the United Way of Elgin (UWE) hosted the 2017-2018 “United We Win” Campaign Kickoff Reception at the Grand Victoria Casino.  Supporters gathered to celebrate the launch of a new year of fundraising for social services that help to meet vital health, education and income needs in the community.

Campaign co-chairs Karla Jiménez, coordinator of family and community engagement for School District U-46, and Tom McCartney, manager and founding principal at My Advisor & Planner, LLC, led the event. Jiménez and McCartney are UWE board members as well.

The evening began with the presentation of the Jack Shales Spirit of Community Award to Elgin Sweeper Company for their outstanding commitment to corporate responsibility, as well as their support of the United Way of Elgin and its constituents for over 90 years. UWE President Lynne Bosley presented the award along with its namesake, Jack Shales, who has volunteered with UWE for 63 years. Mike Higgins, General Manager, and Lisa Baran, Director of Human Resources, were on hand to accept the award on behalf of Elgin Sweeper. Mike noted the significance of the history between Elgin Sweeper and United Way of Elgin and the continued importance of support the community through United Way today.

Throughout the event, infographics and presentation slides highlighted exciting outcomes from the previous campaign year. From improvements in early childhood literacy, to food and shelter provided for low-income families, the impact of generous giving was on full display. The positive community spirit came to a crescendo when UWE board chair Betsy Cappas surprised attendees with a serenade from the Elgin High School drumline—a pep rally at its finest.

Jiménez and McCartney shared their stories of involvement with UWE as members of the Education Investments and Strong & Secure Families Committees, respectively. They also emphasized the impact created when individuals and organizations team up to meet the community’s greatest needs.

“My goal is to help our community exceed fundraising expectations so that we can…fund deserving agencies at even greater levels,” said McCartney. “There continues to be real pain out there, and we need to rally as a community to address [it].”

To underscore the value of that teamwork, the co-chairs identified ways to make the most of the coming campaign year. Jiménez encouraged attendees to participate in the November’s worldwide Giving Tuesday campaign, while McCartney inspired them to give through workplace campaigns, online donations, or even by volunteering their time.

“United Way [of Elgin] has allowed me to slow down and take a deeper look at the positive work happening around us, and it is truly inspiring,” said McCartney. “‘United We Win’ means that we can and will continue to make our community an even better one if we all take a moment to team up together.”

To make a donation to the United Way of Elgin or the “United We Win” campaign, please visit or contact Elissa Kojzarek at

The kickoff was generously hosted by Grand Victoria Casino, who has been hosting our campaign kickoffs for over 15 years.