On the day the Middletown Area United Way celebrated its move to the East End, the agency also made a major investment in the community and its fight against the heroin epidemic.
United Way CEO Terry Sherrer Sr. presented a $25,000 check Wednesday morning to David VanArsdale, the city’s public safety director and acting city manager since Doug Adkins is out of town, and stressed the money didn’t come from the agency’s campaign.
He said the “community response funds” came from the Middletown Community Foundation and are earmarked for “the betterment of Middletown.”
VanArsdale said the money will be used to purchase educational materials for area students in hopes of preventing them from being introduced to drugs, especially heroin. Last year, Adkins, responding to the number of overdoses in the city and the financial grip heroin had on the community, formed a Heroin Summit that has met numerous times at Atrium Medical Center.
The goal, Adkins said, was to see a drop in the number of overdoses in the city, and one way the committee decided was to educate the youth and create activities for them.
“We have to do something about it,” Sherrer said of the heroin epidemic after Wednesday’s ceremony that included city officials. “It’s everywhere. As United Way we have to play some sort of role. We are all about bettering our community, protecting our community. This is what we are here for.”
The check was presented during a sign unveiling outside the new United Way office across the street from Towne Mall Galleria. Sherrer said when he joined the United Way in 2012, there were six United Way employees working downtown, but due to restructuring in the agency, that number has dropped to three.
By moving from the office on Main Street to 6820 Roosevelt Ave., Suite D., Sherrer said the United Way will save $20,000 a year in rent. He looked toward the north and pointed out the Towne Mall, Atrium Medical Center, Interstate 75 and the AK Steel Research Center under construction.
“I see possibilities of growth,” Sherrer said.
He said when Middletown was founded, it was centered around the river, then moved to the railroad system and now the interstate.
“We are in the right place,” he said of the new location.
When Sherrer, a former YMCA director, visits a city, he immediately looks for the YMCA and the United Way.
“That tells me a lot about the community,” he said. “Now when people see the new United Way sign they will know Middletown is invested in its community.”