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United Way Blackhawk Region officially launched its annual community campaign at a breakfast held at the ABC Supply Co. corporate hangar at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Close to 400 United Way supporters filled the airport hangar to join in the excitement of the kickoff, enjoy a hearty breakfast and rolled up their sleeves to work on 109 community service projects across the region. An additional 320 people made for a grand total of 720 Day of Caring volunteers, aiding local nonprofits to clean, paint, landscape, build sand boxes, and assist with a variety of other projects.

Building momentum for the morning, United Way officials touted a new collaboration with the City of Beloit, City of Janesville and Rock County to provide a free, mobile-friendly volunteer connectivity platform entitled, “Get Connected.”

“Get Connected is yet another demonstration of the many ways in which United Way invests in the region and provides capacity building for its nonprofit and community partners,” said United Way Blackhawk Region Board Chair Jon Schlemmer. “This engagement platform will not only help nonprofit organizations to recruit, manage and retain support by creating meaningful relationships with volunteer and corporate supporters, but it will also give anyone interested in lending their time and talent a user-friendly system to search volunteer opportunities by keyword, agency or causes they are passionate about.” 

Champions of United Way’s 2015 campaign, Milly Babcock and Kim Hendricks were on hand to pass the torch to the local business leaders championing this year’s campaign. 

“Collectively, this group owns the Beloit, Janesville, and Newville Culver’s, as well as The Rock Bar and Grill in Beloit. Jim Agate, Bill and Linda Lock, and Ron and Barb Mallon exemplify what it means to take pride in their community and embrace the responsibility of leadership by generously giving back,” said Hendricks. “In addition to their long-time support of United Way, their philanthropy includes everything from Scoopie nights, Thank-a-Farmer and Vets Roll events, providing youth scholarships and serving in a variety of volunteer capacities. Truly, these champions know what it means to live united; they give, advocate and volunteer.” 

Linda Lock spoke on behalf of the champions, “It is an honor to lead the charge for United Way’s 2016 community campaign. We’re proudly asking fellow business owners and corporate leaders to host a workplace campaign and encouraging everyone to make a financial contribution. Every dollar is important and makes a meaningful difference in the lives of local people.”

Setting an enthusiastic tone for the campaign, Linda Lock announced that on Monday, Sept. 26 all Rock County Culver’s will host, “Scoopin’ for United Way” and The Rock Bar and Grill will host, “Rockin’ for United Way.” Ten percent of sales at all six locations will be donated to United Way. 

Each year, United Way Blackhawk Region hosts an opportunity for community members to pledge gifts supporting United Way’s work. As set by the board of directors, the 2016 campaign goal is $2.4 million. Just under $196,000 in corporate contributions has already been pledged to the 2016 community campaign via 16 pacesetter organizations.

To learn how you can give, advocate or volunteer, visit LiveUnitedBR.org.

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About United Way Blackhawk Region
United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. We win by Living United, by forging unlikely partnerships and by finding new solutions to old problems; by mobilizing the best resources; and inspiring individuals to join
the fight against a common foe, each community’s most daunting social crises. United Way Blackhawk Region Lives United against poverty, family violence, hunger and homelessness to name a few, by providing community grants and resources to 80 human services programs at 39 nonprofit agencies in Rock County, Wis. and northern Winnebago County, Ill. More information about United Way Blackhawk Region is available at LiveUnitedBR.org.

About United Way’s 2016 Community Campaign Champions
All five of these local business owners reside in the Blackhawk Region; three are graduates of high schools in Rock County. 

Jim Agate and Bill Lock opened their first Culver’s restaurant in Beloit in January 1998, in subsequent years the business partners have added Culver’s locations in Huntley, Ill., Twin Falls and Idaho Falls, Idaho. Agate and Lock also own The Rock Bar and Grill Bar in Beloit. Lock and his wife Linda, have three children currently working for the Beloit Culver’s. Agate’s brother and sister are also involved in the local businesses.  

Ron and Barb Mallon began their association with Culver’s in 1993, opening their first Janesville restaurant in December 1994. After opening the Milton Avenue location, the Mallon’s have continued to expand their business and currently own Culver’s restaurants on W. Court St. and Midland Rd. in Janesville, and near the I-90/ Hwy 59 interchange in Newville. The couple’s two adult sons are now partners in the family-owned business. 

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