Sue Wilcox (left), United Way of Portage County Executive Director, receives a $1,300,577 check from Pete McPartland (upper right), Sentry Chairman of the Board, President, and CEO, and Sentry Leadership Committee Chair Jeff Cole. (Contributed)

Sentry racks up another record-breaking year for United Way giving

By Patrick Lynn

Sentry has done it again.

Employees, and the Sentry Insurance Foundation, brought in $1,300,577 this year to support the United Way of Portage County.

Sentry announced the total late last week at a private virtual event. The amount raised includes employee pledges, special events fundraising, and a matching donation from the Sentry Foundation.

The insurance giant’s donation accounts for more than 40 percent of the United Way’s 2022 community goal of $3,125,000, according to the United Way of Portage County.

Sentry employees organized multiple in-person and virtual fundraising events including a golf scramble, basket raffles, video and photography contests, and silent auctions.

The company presented the $1.3 million check to Sue Wilcox, executive director of the United Way of Portage County.

“I am here with you today to extend my sincere gratitude—my heartfelt thanks and my overwhelming pride of community—to all of you. With my retirement edging ever closer at the end of this year, I can tell you with all the love in my heart that you have made my time with this United Way an absolute joy,” Wilcox said.

It’s Wilcox’s last major campaign with United Way. She announced last week that she was retiring from her 30-year role at the end of the year.

“We’ve made life a little brighter for our seniors. We’ve reduced major stressors faced by struggling families. We’ve changed the outlook of children, teens, and adults in crisis. We’ve supported proven educational programs to keep kids on track and to move adults to self-sufficiency. We’ve welcomed and encouraged those new to our area to be part of this thriving community. We’ve provided opportunities for
individuals with varying abilities to participate in community life as valued workers, neighbors, and family members,” she said, then, finished her remarks with a quote from Winnie the Pooh: “’How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’”

Sentry CEO Pete McPartland thanked Sentry employees and leadership for “creating an environment where we are able to be such a generous, enthusiastic contributor to the United Way campaign.”

The 2022 United Way of Portage County campaign co-chairs were Dr. Fred Eichmiller, Kim Angell, Cindy
Weber, Benjamin Nusz, Craig Aittama, and Deborah Furgason.

The United Way of Portage County collaborates with 32 partner programs and two initiatives with an emphasis on education, financial stability, and health.

Sentry’s United Way drive reached the $1 million mark for the first time in 2015. Since 2000, the company and its Foundation have donated over $20 million to the cause.