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United Way of Southwest Michigan kicks off annual campaign; money benefits Michiana families

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- The United Way of Southwest Michigan kicked off its annual fundraising campaign earlier this week.

The money raised will benefit dozens of non-profits in Berrien and Cass Counties. 

United Way of Southwest Michigan says this year's campaign isn't about numbers, it's about showing how this money helps the community. 

"How can somebody help drive the change in our community," said United Way of Southwest Michigan President/ CEO Anna Murphy. "How can you be apart of solving early literacy issues or solving or seeing graduation rates change? Or people becoming more self-sufficient? How can you be apart of that. It’s not about a number.”

One of the non-profits that benefits from this fundraiser is LOGAN Center. This campaign helps fund a $75,000 scholarship offered at LOGAN Center. The scholarship helps families pay for therapy and intervention services. 

“Even if the scholarship is used to pay for a portion of the service or all of it, this really takes one of the stressors of having a child or having a family member who has additional needs kind of off their plate where they can focus on their whole family or maybe their complete needs for the year," said LOGAN Center Clinical Director Kristin Wier.

One of the families that benefits from this fundraiser is the Schaeffer family.

Bill Schaeffer describes his 10-year-old daughter Lulani as loving, caring, and spontaneous. Lulani is also autistic. For the past few year she's attended LOGAN Center.

At LOGAN, Lulani receives therapy and other services. Bill says Lulani was almost non-verbal when she started at LOGAN. He says after a month, he and his wife began noticing improvements. Bill credits the center with teaching his daughter how to speak.

“I guess you can see the results," said Schaeffer. "I'm telling you about a child, a couple of years ago, didn’t talk, wouldn’t look at you in the eye, didn’t play and now you’re doing patty cake with her you know and she’s introducing herself.”

Bill says without the scholarship funded by the United Way's annual campaign, his family would have trouble paying for Lulani's therapy. He adds the campaign is important for other families as well.

“It helps take a burden off trying to pay for something else to make sure that what every parent wants your child taken care of you know and uh when we found out about that and we applied and we got it, we were so thankful," said Schaeffer.

To donate, click here.

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