The excitement at the offices of the United Way of Western Crawford County is contagious as its new executive director, Marisa Lines, takes the helm.
United Way of Western Crawford County board Chairman Duane Koller is thrilled over the addition of Lines, who has been on the job for more than two weeks.
“I have great confidence Marisa will pick up the ball and run with it,” Koller said.
The ball Lines is running with is the financial umbrella for 19 Crawford County nonprofit organizations. Among them are the Salvation Army, CHAPS, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, and the Crawford County READ Program.
Amy Rectenwald, who started her own travel business, recently stepped down from the executive director post after spending three years at the position. Rectenwald has spent some time at Lines’ side to help her become acquainted.
Koller, who also is chairman of the Meadville Area Free Clinic, explained the importance of Lines’ role in the local United Way.
“If I have a doctor willing to volunteer,” Koller said, “we would rather see them taking care of people than worrying about fundraising.”
Lines should be well prepared for the new position after having been a public relations and marketing director for the YWCA in Jamestown, N.Y., which is a United Way of Chautaqua County agency.
Lines grew up in Russell, Warren County, and attended Eisenhower High School. She earned a master’s degree in business administration and bachelor of science degree in international business at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
Though she wasn’t born and raised in Crawford County, residents have made her feel comfortable with her new locale.
“It already feels like home,” Lines said. “I haven’t met a person yet that hasn’t welcomed me with open arms.”
Though she has been busy meeting with individual agencies to introduce herself, Lines has found the time to relocate to Meadville from Russell. To Koller, this is a big plus.
“She’ll be actively involved in the community,” he said.
Aside from her meetings, Lines is getting ready for the 10th annual Channellock Bass Classic on July 25 at Conneaut Lake. The event is a major fundraiser for the local United Way. Lines said the agency is still accepting sponsors and amateur fishermen.
“That’s my first venture out,” an excited Lines said.
Then Lines has to start preparing for Make A Difference Day, which is expected to be held on Sept. 27 this year.
The Make A Difference Day event leads right into the annual campaign. In 2013, the campaign raised about $320,000, which was disbursed to local nonprofits. According to Koller, this wasn’t an easy amount to raise.
“It was a battle, but we reached it,” Koller said.
No target amount has been set for the upcoming annual campaign, but the local United Way board will decide on that soon. Time between now and that decision gives Lines a chance to meet everyone and get her fingers on the pulse of the area organizations’ requirements.
“(I hope to) get to know the agencies so I can see what the agencies and affiliates’ needs are so we can help the community as a whole,” Lines said.
Lines sees her first challenge, aside from getting to know everyone, as educating the community.
“(I am) getting everyone to know what the United Way does,” Lines said. “The United Way gives all the agencies a place to work together.”
Lines is very appreciative and credits the support Koller and the United Way of Western Crawford County board have bestowed upon her to be able to hit the ground running.
“My board is definitely the backbone of the organization,” Lines said.
Earl Corp can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can go
The Meadville-Western Crawford County Chamber of Commerce holds a meet-and-greet for new United Way of Western Crawford County Executive Director Marisa Lines on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the United Way office, 415 Chestnut St., Meadville. Those interested in attending may call the local United Way at 337-1251 to RSVP.