Planning for Thursday s merger of the United Way of Oxford Ohio and Vicinity into the Butler County United Way (BCUW) included, from left, Margaret Shawver Baker, president and CEO of the BCUW; Carol Hauser, 2017 president of Oxford UW; and Carol Havens, an Oxford board member for the past year and now Oxford Area Relationship Manager for the merged organizations. CONTRIBUTED/BOB RATTERMAN

What a local United Way merger means for Oxford and Butler County

Financial realities and staffing issues forced board members of the United Way of Oxford to take a hard look at overtures about a merger from the Butler County United Way in the past year, and the board voted unanimously recently to agree to the proposal.

Last year was a tumultuous one for the United Way of Oxford, as the executive director resigned, and the replacement who was hired immediately went on maternity leave and decided not to continue in the position. A second hiring was approved, but that person decided after only a few days that the job was not what she wanted and also resigned.

That left Board President Carol Hauser, in effect, serving as executive director and handling that work in addition to board duties.

While the difficult search for a new director weighed on the decision, Hauser said there were several factors that made it a good move for the area.

“Our mission and philosophy regarding our service to the Oxford community remains unchanged,” Hauser said. “However, it is also important that we preserve the ability to provide that service. With a small organization like ours, it has been difficult to maintain a level of consistency when it comes to managing the backroom operations along with being the face of United Way.”

The merger will also help large employers, like Miami University, in operating their campaigns because the merger will allow donors to contribute through an e-pledge campaign, which has not been possible for Oxford donors. Also, some agencies receive funds from both the Oxford and Butler County United Way organizations, and this will streamline the application and distributions process.

Oxford will maintain a strong presence in the operation of the BCUW, with leaders assuring Oxford residents that they will continue the support of area agencies.

County President and CEO Margaret Shawver Baker grew up in the area and said she holds strong ties to Oxford, as does Vice President/Operations Pamela R. Cottle. Baker was formerly employed by First Financial Bank.

“We have reached a point where merging these organizations is not only logical, but allows United Way to continue serving its citizens of Oxford on an even greater scale,” Baker said. “The support of the Oxford community in addressing the vulnerabilities of its citizens is vital to the success we have achieved in the past and plan to achieve in the future.”

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