United Way’s Annual Campaign Drives Community Impact

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21 Feb, 2022

When the Covid 19 Pandemic heightened urgent and emerging needs, our United Way was uniquely positioned and built for this work by improving lives through direct service, collaboration, volunteerism, and advocacy.  Our role as a leader in the non-profit community during this crisis inspired our donors to generously support our work once again.  That is the biggest reason we can announce our campaign total of $3,476,600, which is the most money we have raised in an annual campaign in our 102-year history.

Chris and Lisa Sammartino served as the 2021 Campaign Co-Chairs. Chris serves on United Way’s Board of Directors and chairs the Marketing Committee. He played a significant role in our Centennial Campaign by helping plan the 100th Anniversary Gala. Lisa is a member of Women United, which focuses on the children in our initiatives. After a year of unprecedented challenges, Chris and Lisa stepped into the role of Campaign Co-Chairs because they believe in the United Way’s mission and this community.

“We both have seen firsthand the amazing work the United Way does in the community. We serve as Report Card Mentors, we volunteer for the Saturday of Caring, and we help with the Christmas Gift Drive for the Success After 6 programs every year,” said Chris and Lisa Sammartino. “We were extremely honored to take on the role of co-chairs for the campaign. The community needs to know about the excellent work the United Way does for our neighbors in need. We want to bring that message to everyone and knew we could do it in this role.”

Chris and Lisa want to thank everyone who donated this year to help United Way raise more than $3 million for the 6th straight year.

“We may never be able to fully express our gratitude to all our donors, but we begin with thank you to all of you who made this possible.   This funding will allow us two years into the pandemic to continue to stabilize the individuals and homes most impacted,” said Bob Hannon, President of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.  “We are feeding hungry children and families, providing basic needs, helping nonprofit partners withstand drops in funding, and continue the impactful work that we were doing before we faced the Covid Pandemic.”

Our United Way will invest the money raised during the 2021 Rise United Campaign directly back into the Mahoning Valley. When the pandemic hit in 2020, the world changed but our mission remained the same. United Way is the backbone organization helping our non-profit and school partners. We created new initiatives such as Satur-Day of Caring that delivers food directly to the homes of seniors, shut-ins, and families who cannot and should not be out during the pandemic.

It started with 100 households and has quadrupled over the past 18 months thanks to the generosity of the Muransky Family who started this initiative. We also want to thank the Mahoning County Commissioners for trusting our United Way to invest the American Recovery Funds back into the community. These additional funds are critical as we face the rising cost of food and personal items that we take to more than 400 homes each month.

The Satur-Day of Caring initiative led to a dramatic increase in our volunteer base. Every third Saturday, 150 volunteers help pack food bags and deliver them to those in need. United Way was able to engage more than 500 new volunteers through 2020 and 2021, and we will continue to grow that number in 2022; especially through Early Education Initiatives.

While students prepared to return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year, our United Way began transitioning its educational wraparound services for any changes within the partner districts caused by the pandemic. The Success By 6 staff worked tirelessly to welcome students and their families back over the summer months. 588 children across eighteen school districts took part in the Kindergarten Readiness initiative, showing improvement in math, literacy, and social-emotional development.

Success After 6 staff brought students back for in-person after school programming while continuing to offer virtual tutoring opportunities through the Vello initiative. This program offers one-on-one reading sessions for students and tutors through a safe and secure digital setting. Vello has now grown from being in just 1 school to being in 4 schools.

In 2014, United Way launched the Imagination Library in Mahoning County. This initiative promotes the love of reading at the earliest of ages. In 2019, Governor Mike DeWine launched the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library expanding the reach of the program. In 2021, over 6,000 children across Mahoning County, birth to age 5, received one free book a month. We continue to work to increase our reach with this program by offering special programming with our partner schools.

As United Way-led initiatives continue to grow, so does the need for the services provided by the United Way’s 35 non-profit partner agencies. These agencies continue to receive funding through United Way, many also received additional pandemic relief funding to help maintain and provide services for the most vulnerable in the community. The Board’s Impact Committee is currently reviewing applications from non-profits across Mahoning County for the 2022-2024 funding cycle.


2021 Campaign Breakdown



  1. The Muransky Companies
  2. Youngstown City School District
  3. Dearing Compressor and Pump Co
  4. Farmers National Bank
  5. Fireline, Inc
  6. Premier Bank
  7. UPS
  8. Aim Transportation Solutions
  9. “Joe” Dickey Electric
  10. Youngstown State University


  1. Frank and Pearl Gelbman Charitable Foundation
  2. PNC Foundation
  3. The Youngstown Foundation
  4. Premier Bank Charitable Foundation
  5. William M. Neckerman, Jr. Charitable Foundation
  6. W. & H. Bender Memorial Fund
  7. Ronald McDonald House Charities
  8. The John D. Beeghly Fund
  9. Walter E. & Caroline H. Watson Foundation
  10. John F. and Loretta A. Hynes Foundation


  1. Hynes Industries
  2. Meijer
  3. 898 Marketing



  1. The DeBartolo Corporation – Denise and John York
  2. Huntington Bank
  3. Gloria Jones and Fireline Inc., in honor of Roger D. Jones
  4. Ed and Chris Muransky


  1. Aim Transportation Solutions
  2. Farmers National Bank