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United Way of Portage County honors Blenker family as campaign chairs

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On Feb. 1, the United Way of Portage County honored the Blenker family, owners of Blenker Companies, Inc. of Amherst, Wisconsin, as the 2017 drive chairs to help make the community a better and brighter place.

Every year, the United Way of Portage County chooses a family to run their campaign to advance the common good.

The United Way of Portage County campaign works to improve individuals lives every day and the Blenker family will be working with area businesses, government, nonprofit organizations and schools to conduct their campaign.

The 2016 campaign drive chairs, the Hofmeister/Okray family of Spectra Print took part to bestow this honor upon the Blenker family and they will be working with them to help advance and achieve their goals for the community in 2017.

According to Scott Steuck, director of communications and marketing for the United Way of Portage County, the Blenker family is already on their way to showing how the United Way of Portage County can make a lasting impact on the community.

The family is going to meet with the representatives of the United Way of Portage County twice a month to talk about the campaign and how they’re going to set their goals with the campaign leadership to make Portage County families succeed.

Now that they’re the 2017 United Way of Portage County drive chairs, the Blenker family will be speaking on their behalf, they’ll be volunteering at many events, they’ll be on all their marketing materials and they’ll be putting their support behind the United Way of Portage County.

Jason Blenker, president of Blenker Building Systems, said this an opportunity for him to show what the United Way of Portage County does for the community and how it helps funds programs throughout Portage County.

The mission of United Way of Portage County is to improve the quality of lives of individuals through education, income and community basics.

This is all accomplished thanks to more than 100 unpaid volunteers, who raise money through programs and events, which run throughout the year.

He has already seen how the United Way of Portage County has made someone’s life better than it was yesterday.

The United Way of Portage County runs a program called Project Fresh Start, which provides the necessary school supplies to students of the county who qualify for the free or reduced price meal program.

Project Fresh Start relies on the support of the community to help students in need and that’s why businesses, including the Blenker’s own business, have partnered up with the United Way of Portage County, so that community members can drop off school supplies from July to August every year, right at the Blenker Companies, Inc. facility.

“If it gave someone the opportunity to provide school supplies for their children that otherwise couldn’t, or helped one kid to read that was struggling, then it was worth it,” Jason Blenker said.

Jason Blenker has also seen how the United Way of Portage County has had a measurable and lasting effect on student reading achievement through the Learn for Life program, which works with Portage County school districts, local businesses and community members to increase literacy performance in youth.

Tutors are matched with third-graders, who are identified as needing help with reading and they meet every week for a minimum of 30 minutes during the school year for individual sessions.

“Maybe that one kid that was struggling learns to read and becomes the next Einstein, you never know what the possibilities are,” Jason Blenker, said. “Help where you can, do what you can [and] give a little bit of your time to understand where people struggle so you can help them get a leg up from where they are.”

The United Way of Portage County also gives low income families a leg up with the No Child’s Wet Behind event, a community wide diaper drive.

Diapers can be dropped off at local businesses, including Blenker Companies, Inc., during business hours, Monday through Friday from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day of each year.

The diapers are then distributed through Operation Bootstrap, an emergency assistance organization, to families throughout the Portage County area.

As a result of their contributions to the United Way of Portage County, the Blenker family helped raise $13,000 in 2016 and people are already envisioning that they will have an even larger impact on the community now that they’re 2017 campaign drive chairs.

Steuck said people that know them will see them taking the reigns, leading the campaign and will cheer them on and do what they can to support them and make them succeed.

Pam Jewell, president of Blenker Construction said this privileged honor, which is only bestowed upon a handful of families in Portage County, means that the Blenker family will do their best to make the United Way drive a success.

“If there was ever any doubt that we live in a great community, just look at the good that our United Way does and the continued success of our drive each year,” Jewell said. “It is true that the people of Portage County don’t just wear the shirt, but they live it.”

To learn more about how you can help the United Way of Portage County through donation or volunteering, visit them online at www.unitedwaypoco.org, through their telephone line at 715-341-6740, or through their email at uway@unitedwaypoco.org.



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