'Smart use of limited resources'

United Way distributes $200,000 in awards

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Caryl Johnston, executive director of United Way of Kootenai County, hugs Linda Holehan Thursday after announcing Holehan as the Live United 2012 Volunteer Extraordinaire during the United Way Campaign Celebration and Awards Luncheon in Coeur d'Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE - A smile spread across Sharron Muldoon's face Thursday at The Coeur d'Alene Resort.

Standing in front of hundreds of people at United Way of Kootenai County's campaign celebration and grant awards luncheon, Muldoon accepted $10,000 given to We've Got Stuff, a Coeur d'Alene-based, volunteer-run ministry that provides household items for the homeless and families transitioning into housing.

The grant was a portion of $200,000 in Community Care Fund awards distributed to 25 area nonprofits during the luncheon, with each donation going toward a specific use. We've Got Stuff plans to buy a much-needed delivery truck.

"The activity that I'm probably most excited about is that this United Way continues to transform itself from an organization that simply collects money and distributes it, to one that identifies the needs in our community, brings people and agencies to the table to figure out the most effective way to solve those needs, and then raises the money to partner with the local agencies and programs to move the bar and improve peoples lives," said Scott Fischer, president of the local United Way board, prior to the grant disbursements.

Fischer, principal at Architects West in Coeur d'Alene, said United Way Worldwide calls this the "community impact model" of service.

"I call it smart use of limited resources," Fischer said.

Caryl Johnston said she has also watched this change take place, since coming on as United Way director six years ago.

"I have an awesome board of directors made up of community leaders who work so hard to help us meet the needs of the community," Johnston said.

Alison McArthur, executive director of the Post Falls Senior Center, and her staff accepted a $7,000 grant during the luncheon.

Some of the funds will be used to provide senior wellness classes called "Living Well in Idaho," McArthur said.

The rest of the money will go toward expanding the senior center's community garden from a small off-site plot to a larger garden on the center's land.

"We can grow our own produce and almost triple what we have now," McArthur said.

The garden's items will be used in meals served at the center and those sent to home-bound seniors through the agency's meals on wheels program. They will also be able to send vegetables home with seniors who live in nearby low-income apartments and cannot afford to purchase fresh produce regularly.

"We served well over 16,000 meals last year," McArthur said.

Businesses and employers whose workers supported the United Way 2012 campaign were honored at the luncheon also.

Awards went to the Coeur d'Alene Press, Mountain West Bank, Texas Roadhouse, Coeur d'Alene Mines, Hagadone Hospitality and U.S. Bank. Special volunteer recognition went to Sandy Weitzel, Laurel Smith and Linda Holehan.

Eve Knudtsen, president of Knudtsen Chevrolet in Post Falls, was announced as the chair of United Way of Kootenai County's 2012-13 campaign.

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