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'Live United': Banners in Hastings show community support around nonprofit

Regina Hospital was one of three Hastings businesses to purchase a banner in the first year that United Way of Hastings offered them. Dan Rother Photography provided the photo of the business's team to go on each banner. Image courtesy of United Way of Hastings

If you've had a keen eye while out and about in Hastings, you have probably glimpsed one of the United Way of Hastings' "Live United" banners. Prominently displayed around local businesses, the project is a testament to the bond between the community and the nonprofit organization.

The United Way of Hastings banner program was initiated in 2011. That first year, UWH only had three local businesses buy a banner — Regina Hospital, Smead and Hastings Automotive. Now in its eighth year, 51 businesses have purchased a banner. With a goal of 50 banners heading into the year, it goes to show how effective the community partnership presently is.

But what exactly is the purpose of the banner and why would a business want to buy one?

"It's an opportunity for businesses to market themselves while also knowing their money will be going for a great cause," said Mari Mellick, executive director of UWH.

There are five different levels of sponsorship available but if a business chooses one with a banner, it receives a 4-foot-by-12-foot banner that is posted at the UWH campaign kickoff as well as the business or other location from the beginning of September until the end of November.

Mellick said the idea behind the banners is more than a sponsorship opportunity however. It harkens back to the UWH motto, "Live United."

"Live United is something that they (United Way) developed a few years ago — that we're extending a hand to someone else," Mellick said. "When you reach out a hand to help someone else and lift them up, we all benefit from that."

UWH is an independent nonprofit that pays dues to the national organization but all of the funding that comes into the Hastings branch stays local. That's something Mellick and the rest of the UWH team prides itself in. And after 54 years in operation, it's something that UWH hopes to continue to provide the greater Hastings community.

Jake Pfeifer

Jake Pfeifer is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, which encompasses the Hastings Star Gazette, Farmington-Rosemount Independent Town Pages, South Washington County Bulletin and Woodbury Bulletin. He previously worked as a sports reporter and outdoors editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and as a multimedia artist/editor for Detroit Lakes Newspapers.

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