United Way

Missouri Slope Areawide United Way 2018 campaign co-chairs Dale Pahlke, left, and Cindy Schaaf, center, and executive director Jena Gullo announce a record-breaking dollar amount at the annual banquet on Thursday afternoon in Bismarck. Pahlke announced an amount of $2,875,000 to a round of applause and pledged another $25,000 he would raise with help from friends.

In 2018, Missouri Slope Areawide United Way — with the help of Bismarck, Mandan and surrounding communities — raised a "record-breaking" $2.9 million to support local programs, including the agency’s emergency homeless shelter.

The United Way announced at its annual luncheon and meeting on Thursday that between October 2017 and December 2018, it provided 15,716 nights of emergency shelter to 762 men, women and children.

Among the women were seven who were pregnant, according to MSA United Way executive director Jena Gullo, who said the babies were born while their mothers lived at the shelter.

"The people we’re helping at our shelter, they’re real people. They’re good people. They’re strong," she said. "But we, as a community, need to see them as people.

"We are starting to piece together and build up services for the poor and I think we can dig in and break the cycle of jail, incarceration, poverty and homelessness," she added. "Those are the key areas we are going to be focusing on."

The money raised, which includes a $25,000 last-minute pledge by campaign co-chairman Dale Pahlke, of Dakota Community Bank & Trust, will be used to support 30 partner agencies and 58 programs in 2019.

During the luncheon, the United Way highlighted some of its programs’ successes in 2018:

  • 52,649 Imagination Library books were delivered to 4,168 area preschoolers.
  • 213,744 minutes of tutoring were provided to students in need at 11 local schools.
  • 1,271 students were assisted through the United Way Backpack Program, which provides a backpack of food for consumption over the weekend to kids in need.
  • 71,273 meals were delivered to 1,469 senior citizens in their homes.
  • 2,227,869 meals were provided to local individuals in need.

The United Way also recognized businesses and organizations that supported them in "extraordinary" ways within the past year.

“We knew it’d be a very tough year … and we appreciate the support from the community,” Pahlke said, prior to handing out the awards.

Glance Spa and Salon, Bartlett & West and DTN Staffing were presented Live United awards, while the Spirit of Bismarck-Mandan Award was given to the National Information Solutions Cooperative, which also received Best in Show - Employee Campaign.

Best in Show awards were also presented to the following: Dakota Community Bank & Trust, Corporate and Employee Gifts; Agency MABU, Small Business; Child’s Hope Learning Center, Nonprofit Agency; and Cottingham Insurance Agency, Professional Division.

The highest fundraising dollar amounts in 2018 came from the following companies and their employees: American Bank Center, BNI Coal, Legacy United Methodist Church, BNC National Bank, Bismarck Public Schools, CHI St. Alexius Health, Marathon Petroleum, Aetna, Starion Bank, Eide Bailly, Tom and Frances Leach Foundation, KLJ, National Information Solutions Cooperative, Doosan/Bobcat, Sanford Health, DTN Staffing, Scheels, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Dakota Community Bank & Trust. MDU Resources was the top donor.

"We are only as strong as your involvement," Gullo said, addressing about 450 luncheon attendees. "It’s not a United Way thing, it’s everyone coming together."

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(Reach Cheryl McCormack at 701-250-8264 or cheryl.mccormack@bismarcktribune.com.)​