Smith Haughey Uses Football Rivalry to Increase United Way Donations

As October rolls around, the Grand Rapids office of Smith Haughey gears up for our annual fundraiser for the local non-profit, United Way. On this final Friday, employees are given the opportunity to donate directly to the organization or any of their 54 local agency providers.

With Michigan’s famous college football rivalry between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University being this month, Smith Haughey attorneys Katie Wendt and Holliann Willekes, two new associates who are heading up this year’s fundraiser, decided to use the highly-anticipated competition to increase staff participation.

Together, the two attorneys decided to up the stakes by motivating the office through their own friendly contest to determine which team’s fans are willing to be more generous. There are green and white boxes in Katie’s office and maize and blue boxes set up in Holliann’s office for the office to place donations in to show support for their favorite team.

Ultimately, all donations will go to the United Way, along with the usual ‘jeans day’ contributions, but the box with the most will determine the official team supported by the Grand Rapids office. The inner office competition was created with hope to increase collections for such a quality organization that does so much for the West Michigan community.

The UW in Kent County has been around for nearly 100 years; it was founded in 1917 and strives to connect civic resources to the demands of the community. They do this through direct programming, community engagement and partnering with non-profits. There are more than 1,300 United Way organizations in the U.S. alone and they have been a long-time community leader.

All donations given to the United Way stay in Kent County, but are distributed to support the work of more than 50 non-profits in the areas of educations, income, and health. In the past, UW has used their pantries to feed 41,719 people, provide food and shelter for over 453 people who experienced house fires, obtain safe shelters for 195 homeless youths and help prevent 2,990 people from becoming homeless. These are just a few examples of the remarkable work they do for not only West Michigan, but the entire country as well.

If you are interested in getting involved with UW in your area there are a variety of opportunities available. Some options include providing donations, becoming an ambassador or volunteering for events, which can also include sponsoring events or starting a workplace campaign similar to the one Smith Haughey is currently participating in.

The Heart of West Michigan United Way is located at 118 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. To learn more about what they do for Kent County or the different involvement opportunities visit or contact them at 616-459-6281.