United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region


Month: August, 2012

Changing the Story: John Lewandowski

by Kellie Cochrane

Approved Protection Systems

There are thousands of small businesses across our region, all boasting different services and unique experiences.  As a small business owner, John Lewandowski, stands out in a big way with his passion for our community.  John is the owner of Approved Protection Systems and a volunteer, advocate and donor to United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

John always knew that giving back was going to be an integral part of business for him, so when he first took over Approved Protection Systems he chose a charity each year to donate 10% of the company earnings to.  A friend of his suggested he become involved with United Way, and once he learned about the workplace campaign and the powerful impact United Way was having on the community, he signed up.  That was 10 years ago, and John says it’s a decision he would make all over again.

“I like knowing that the funds are leveraged and that the money I raise is spread throughout the community in a variety of ways,” John explains.  He knew he wanted to give back, but he wanted his gift to impact more than just one charity or group, he wanted to see the impact for his neighbors.

Of course, no workplace campaign can be successful without enthusiasm from employees, and that’s something Approved Protection Systems has plenty of according to John: “We have almost 100% participation with our 30 employees.”  They’ve continued to build each year, three years ago they raised a little over $8,000 and last year they raised close to $30,000.  John wants other small businesses to understand how easy it is to get involved, and how important it is.  He sits on the United Way committee that helped develop and continues to promote LIVE UNITED 365.

Imagine the impact thousands of small businesses could have across our region if they all came together around a common cause and shared a common mission.  John Lewandowski saw the potential and stepped up to make a difference.  Find out how you can be part of the change by visiting uwbckr.org.  If you’re a small business owner and you want to find out more about running a campaign contact David Lee either by email at dlee@uwbckr.org or by calling @69) 343-2524.

Top 25 Breakfast

by Kierstin Nall


Early morning meetings seem to be happening much more frequently around our office. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Top 25 Breakfast, this year held at the Gilmore Car Museum. What an amazing location with so much history! Though it was early, excitement was in the air from the region’s largest contributing organizations and companies toward the United Way campaign.

I really enjoyed the breakfast and listening to each of the Campaign Chairs from Battle Creek and Kalamazoo provide their encouragement for the efforts this year. Part of the program included a panel made up of Cindy Ruble, Executive Director of Educator’s Task Force, Paul Spaude, President & CEO of Borgess Health Alliance and Tim Terrentine, Vice President at Southwest Michigan First.

I think it is safe to say that everyone left the room feeling extremely encouraged. Our focus on Education, Income and Health is addressing root causes of the largest community issues, that will ultimately change lives. Community collaboration is what makes this possible.

Thanks to everyone who came! For an extended view of highlights from the panel, check out the video below!

All Eyes on Youth: Support YUW’s Blood Drive

by Kellie Cochrane


There are a lot of great parts of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, however, I have to say one of my favorites is our Youth United Way organization.  We have a collection of high school students from around the area who are working toward making their community a better place, while learning the finer points of the grant process and philanthropy in general.

On Monday, August 20th the students will be hosting a blood drive for Michigan Blood in the United Way Boardroom at our Kalamazoo location.  This drive does two awesome things: 1. It helps those in need and saves lives through blood donation.  2.  It raises money for our YUW students that allows them to impact the community in so many ways throughout the year. The blood drive starts at 4pm and we’d love to see you there!

Now, maybe you’re scared of needles, blood or youth (we hope not that last one).  Well, let me tempt you by saying in addition to saving lives and empowering the youth of our community you might also win a prize!  Some of our always generous local businesses have been kind enough to donate some gift cards for our participants.  Not to mention, I’m pretty sure you’re more than entitled to a cookie after donating.  So please, join us and help save lives and support our amazing students of Youth United Way.


Wellness Wednesday: Gold Medal Snacking

by Kellie Cochrane

Photo Credit: Today I Ate a Rainbow

Everyone seems to be coming down with Olympic Fever.  The 2012 Olympics in London have engrossed people around the world, and honestly, who can blame us?  It’s a lot of fun cheering on our favorites and watching the amazing feats of athleticism.

The irony of course, is that we are sitting mesmerized by our tvs for probably longer than we care to admit.  As one of my friends recently told me, “The Olympics are really turning me into a couch potato.”  As we all know, sitting on the couch watching tv for hours usually requires some snacks, which can be a dangerous combination.   Now, I’m not suggesting you stop watching the Olympics, that would be just downright unpatriotic, but there are some great tips out there for healthy eating ideas to help you stay on track while suffering from Olympic Fever.

Mom.me has a ton of great ideas for guilt free snacking.  Such as apples and almond butter, veggies and hummus and tuna crackers.  Almond butter also happens to be a favorite of Kerry Walsh, so remember that if you’re interested in dominating a beach volleyball game with friends.  All of these snacks are delicious and something the whole family can enjoy.

Another idea?  Try using commercial breaks as a chance for a little exercising.  Set a challenge for each break: 15 sit ups, 10 push ups or 10 lunges.   If you’re watching with a crowd, get into the competitive spirit and see who can do the most before the commercials end.  Now this might not be the rigorous training Olympians use, but it gets you up and moving!

So continue to enjoy the 2012 Olympics, with your own health and wellness in mind!