United Way kicks off new year with goals, awards

Susan Grant honored with Live United Award

BIG RAPIDS — Another fundraising year is beginning for members and supporters of the Mecosta-Osceola United Way, and with a goal of $525,000, positivity is through the roof.

"It's the most exciting time of the year," said Betty Seelye, Mecosta-Osceola United Way program director. "We fully expect to meet the goal and go over it."

The annual breakfast kickoff event helped set the tone for the new year and displayed how the United Way assists hundreds of individuals in both counties. Testimonials from multiple United Way beneficiaries showcased how valuable the nonprofit is through a video created by Ferris State University student Jesse Woodworth.

One of the major items at the kickoff event was the announcement of the Live United Award winner, which is presented annually to a different individual. Seelye spoke highly of this year's award winner, Honorable Susan Grant, judge of 77th District Court.

"Living United means giving monetarily or with your time, and advocating for a good cause that grows and affirms your community, your greater community and your world. It means volunteering, which is unpaid work for pleasure. With this award, the person has to be going above and beyond in all three of those categories," Seelye said. "Susan Grant is one of my best friends. She is a woman who gives to many good causes and she volunteers with most of them. She is an advocate for human and animal rights, as well as gender equality.

"She encourages young and older women, helping them reach for the sky, whether she boosts a child by buying their animal at the fair or putting a good word forward, setting a fine example both personally and with her career, or delivering an uplifting speech. We can count on her for ongoing mentoring."

Grant was "totally shocked" when Seelye announced her name.

"It's such a prestigious award as far as I'm concerned," she said. "The United Way is so precious to me. We do so much in the community to help people survive. It's a thrill to be recognized by a worthwhile organization."

Grant has been involved with the Mecosta-Osceola United Way for about 15 years and serves on the board of directors. She said she loves being in the position to watch local generosity convert into services to help others.

"Giving can really make a difference," Grant added. "I'm always amazed and over time I've been amazed at what the campaign has accomplished and how much money is raised. What I see is generosity in the community."

The event also highlighted a number of upcoming activities set to benefit United Way, including the Ferris State University Color Run on Sunday, Sept. 28, a celebrity auction on Thursday, Oct. 23, the Skeleton Scurry 5K on Saturday, Oct. 25 and the Great Cake Big County On Air Auction from Nov. 25 to Nov. 26.

In addition, representatives from Ferris, Yoplait and Cargill received United Way Top Campaign awards. Danette Doyle, advertising manager for the Pioneer, received the United Way Champion award.

For more information or to volunteer with the Mecosta-Osecola United Way, call Betty Seely at (231) 592-4144 or find it on Facebook.