Press Releases





NEWARK, OH (May 4, 2020) –  Licking County senior citizens will get help with personal care items thanks to the most recent grant from the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund.


A $3,000 grant to the Licking County Aging Program (LCAP) will assist the organization to provide personal hygiene items to Licking County senior citizens who are homebound during the pandemic.


“Our seniors are among our community’s most vulnerable,” says David Bibler, director of the program. “Many are isolated and rely on others to provide their basic needs at this time. These funds will allow us to provide them with personal care items that help keep our older residents healthy and comfortable.”


Individuals, businesses and foundations have raised $214,000 to help local organizations meet the needs of residents. To date, nearly $115,000 in grants have been distributed to organizations addressing a wide range of critical needs including food assistance, services to unsheltered residents, transportation, and other health and economic supports.


Licking County residents who need immediate assistance are asked to call 2-1-1 for referral to help in their area.


Fundraising will continue as long as necessary. Donations to the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made by texting “VIRUS19” to 414-44, or online at by clicking “donate.”




NEWARK, OH (April 30, 2020) –  To help rally the community behind local relief efforts, Licking County companies have so far contributed $81,000 to the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Fund was established in March and has raised $214,000 for grants to help organizations meet the needs of residents impacted financially or otherwise by the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We are grateful not only that these companies stepped up financially, but many of their leaders are also involved helping in the community as well,” says Deb Dingus, Executive Director of United Way of Licking County.


Companies that have stepped forward to date include Park National Bank, Nationwide Insurance, Matesich Distributing, Owens Corning, Huntington Bank, the Granville Investment Group, Southgate Corporation, the Energy Cooperative, Williamson Insurance, and TrueCore Federal Credit Union.


“The grants from these and other donations are making a real difference in the lives of Licking County residents today,” says Licking County Foundation Director Connie Hawk. “People who may never have had to ask for help before are able to receive it because of generous donors in our community.”


Licking County residents who need immediate assistance are asked to call 2-1-1 for referral to help in their area.


Fundraising will continue as long as necessary. Donations to the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made by texting “VIRUS19” to 414-44, or online at by clicking “donate.”



NEWARK, OH (April 28, 2020) – The Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund announced an additional $13,550 in grants to local organizations helping the community cope with COVID-19.


This latest round of grants awarded brings the total to more than $111,550 in support distributed to 14 organizations meeting increased demand for basic needs assistance since March. To date, contributions to the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund exceed $160K from corporations, civic and philanthropic partners including donations from individuals and families across the county.


The Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund is a collaboration of the Licking County Foundation, United Way of Licking County, and community partners. The latest grants include:


Buckeye Valley Family YMCA: $10,000 to support a temporary pandemic child care center which serves frontline families providing essential health, safety and other services.


Pataskala Community Outreach: $3,000 to support families and seniors in the Pataskala area with lunches and family bags which include basic necessities for the week.


Newton Township Fire Department: $550 to support the purchase of safety glasses and secure storage for the Department’s PPE for first responders.


“Our community continues to be generous to allow us to support relief efforts in all areas of Licking County,” says Deb Dingus, United Way of Licking County Executive Director. “We have a wonderful community task force helping to keep us informed about the needs, and we encourage organizations to reach out to us as well.”


“All of Licking County is experiencing unforeseen needs because of COVID-19, and we are privileged to be able to help in some way through grants from this Relief Fund,” says Licking County Foundation Director Connie Hawk.


Licking County residents who need immediate assistance are asked to call 2-1-1 for referral to help in their area.


Fundraising will continue as long as necessary. Donations to the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made by texting “VIRUS19” to 414-44, or online at



NEWARK, OH (April 21, 2020) – Funds from a community relief effort continued to flow as another group of organizations were selected to receive help from the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund, a joint effort of the Licking County Foundation, United Way of Licking County, and several community partners.


The grants totaling $35,000 support costs of providing immediate, basic human needs to Licking County residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:


Catholic Social Services: $3,000 to provide emergency food/water, personal hygiene supplies, cleaning supplies, or other supportive services to Licking County residents who are 60 years and older, particularly those who are homebound and/or without family support during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Food Pantry Network of Licking County: $30,000 to help feed the increasing number of Licking County residents seeking food assistance now and in the coming months.


Licking County Health Department: $2,000 to support improvements for sharing information virtually with constituents about current public health guidance and countywide emergency response; and to improve safety of interactions with the public for the limited services that must conducted in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“We realize these early grants mark just the beginning of our response,” said Licking County Foundation Director Connie Hawk. “We will continue to make grants while we fundraise so that organizations have support both now and down the road to meet the needs that Licking County residents face as a result of economic and health impact from COVID-19.”


United Way of Licking County Executive Director Deb Dingus added, “We have been extremely encouraged by the community’s response to our fundraising efforts and inspired by the collaboration among organizations as we start to create solutions to challenges that come up as a result of this pandemic.”


Licking County residents who need immediate assistance are asked to call 2-1-1 for referral to help in their area.


Donations to the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund can be made by texting “VIRUS19” to 414-44, or online at by clicking “donate.”



NEWARK, OH (April 10, 2020) – Eight local organizations will be the first to receive funds from the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund, a joint effort of the Licking County Foundation, United Way of Licking County, and several community partners.


The eight grants totaling $63,000 were awarded to help cover costs of providing immediate, basic human needs to Licking County residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:


Crossroads Crusaders: $3,000 to provide emergency food/water, personal hygiene supplies or other supplies for sheltering-in-place to individuals who are unsheltered or homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.


John's Helping Hands 1973: $3,000 to provide emergency food or shelter for families during the COVID-19 pandemic, or shelter to allow distancing of individuals as a result of COVID-19 symptoms.


Licking County Champions Network: $3,000 to provide emergency food/water, personal hygiene supplies or clothing to individuals who are unsheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Licking County Job & Family Services: $10,000 from the Licking County COVID-19 Relief Fund and $10,000 in partnership with the Lindorf-Warner Memorial Fund of the Licking County Foundation to respond to the economic impact on Licking County residents (including individuals, couples without minor children, or families with adult children who had to return home) as a result of employment changes due to COVID-19. Priority will be given to expenses related to preparing for or involvement in self-quarantine and social distancing. Other services include assistance with rent, housing, deposits, utilities, mortgage, car payments, and car insurance. Those who meet household composition and income standards (currently at or below 200% of the federal poverty guideline) may be eligible for support.


Look-Up Center: $3,000 to provide emergency food/water, personal hygiene supplies or cleaning supplies to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly to those without transportation.

Newark Homeless Outreach: $3,000 to provide emergency food/water and personal hygiene supplies to individuals who are unsheltered, homeless or in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.


St. Vincent de Paul Center, Inc.: $3,000 to support the increased need for supplies necessary to safely shelter- in-place the residents of St. Vincent Haven.


The Salvation Army: $25,000 to feed families and adults in need as a result of the pandemic, and for general operating support due to dramatically increased demand for the Army’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A committee of Licking County Foundation and United Way of Licking County representatives oversee the distribution process, which will continue on a rolling basis while funds are available.


“The purpose of this fund is to move resources to local organizations and programs that are directly supporting local residents and families who are most affected by emerging health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” says Licking County Foundation Director Connie Hawk.


“Although we can’t make grants to individuals, we can help the helpers that are on the front lines during this crisis,” added Deb Dingus, Executive Director of United Way of Licking County. “Moving these funds quickly will allow those organizations to do what they do best – helping our residents.”


Licking County residents who need immediate assistance are asked to call 2-1-1 for referral to help in their area.

United Way of Licking County, Licking County Foundation and community partners continue to raise funds for this initiative. To support the fund, text “VIRUS19” to 414-44, or visit and click “donate.

Marcia J. Phelps Named Woman of Achievement

Newark, Ohio, March 10, 2020 — The United Way of Licking County’s affinity group, Women United, hosted its annual fundraising event in conjunction with International Women’s Day. The event took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Thursday, March 5, 2020, with featured speaker MelRo Potter, model and national ambassador for Children’s Rights.


Women United presented their first Woman of Achievement award to Marcia J. Phelps. Phelps was chosen because of her many years as an advocate for abused and neglected children in Licking County. She has served on numerous boards, supported policies as a Licking County Commissioner, and is involved in programs at her church. Phelps attributed her love for public service to her parents who were both actively involved in the community. Phelps said she is proud that her own children and grandsons continue the family tradition of community service.

Women United also awarded $8000 in project grants to five organizations at the celebration.  The awards were given to projects that will help to stop the abuse and neglect of children in Licking County. Receiving grant dollars were: Behavioral Healthcare Partners received a $1742.50 grant for the summer program of the Girls Empowerment Group. This program seeks to increase the self-esteem of its participants; low self-esteem can dramatically affect a young woman's ability to manage their mental health and maintain healthy relationships with peers and adults. Participants will leave the program with the skills they need to be able to communicate their needs and wants in a healthy way, an increased positive self-body image, an increased ability to avoid unhealthy relationships, and an expanded view of the world around them through experiential learning.

Fostering Further received a $1925.50 grant for the Starting Strong program. Starting Strong is a new program launched out of Fostering Further which is dedicated to assisting youth as they transition from foster care into their adult lives. The Independent Living project furthers the mission to support the youth who are aging out of the foster care system by providing them with valuable life skills to function on their own.

Licking Valley Local Schools received a $1632 grant for the Panther Pantry Backpack Program.  The LVHS Panther Pantry’s mission is to enhance student learning by providing Licking Valley High School students with essential school, personal and food supplies that are needed in order to be successful in school. Students cannot learn and grow if their basic needs such as hunger and personal health are not met. The backpack program helps address this problem.

Licking Memorial Hospital received a $700 grant for the Kid’s Place update. The Kids' Place mission is to maintain a child advocacy center and aid the development of a multi-disciplinary team so abused children may benefit from a coordinated community response to the investigation, intervention treatment, and prosecution, resulting in reduced trauma to adolescent victims.

Mental Health America of Licking County received a $2000 grant for the Girls in Progress Peer-to-Peer care blanket project. Girls In Progress is a female-only mentoring and empowerment program that builds socio-emotional competency through trauma-informed practices that include art journaling, mentoring, emotional and physical health, relational health, physical safety, intuitive trust, and the development of strong voice and choice. Fleece blankets are cut by volunteers and then tied by middle school students to create a warm, soft and cozy blanket to be given to a child or teen (both male and female) in foster care within Licking County, in collaboration with The Village Network. The blankets are given to children who are being removed from situations that are unhealthy and often abusive as a comfort and to let them know that someone cares.


Women United of Licking County Chair, Sharon Phelps encouraged the nearly capacity crowd to become advocates for the county’s most vulnerable.  “Women United is a group of bold, inspired women who together will lend their hands, voices, and resources to fight for the abused and neglected children of our community. We encourage you to join us in that fight.”

Over the next year, Women United will engage and connect through four separate events where they will network, volunteer, and continue to learn more about the critical issues of our community.  The issue of abused and neglected children was identified through the United Way’s Community Blueprint.  

The United Way affinity group is open to all women. More can be learned about the group by visiting or calling 740.345.6685.



October 23, 2019

Community Partners Council Forum Cancelled for November

Dear Community Partners:
The previously scheduled Community Partners Council forum on the topic of Homelessness which was to be held on November 6th, at the Reese Center on the OSU/COTC campus has now been CANCELLED. This topical public community meeting will be rescheduled at a later date once we have arranged a date and place to accommodate the consultants, who have now been contracted to provide Licking County with a strategic plan; with the end goal of eliminating chronic homelessness. The rescheduling of this event was vital to allow for the proper timeframe and sequential events needed by the consultants to complete this large and important task on behalf of our community.
I am excited and hopeful by the collaboration of community leaders in partnership with our consultants to provide a way forward for Licking County as we collectively work to improve people’s lives.
I thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue in this process.
If you have any questions regarding this topic or process, please feel free to contact me.


Deb Dingus
Executive Director

United Way of Licking County Establishes Endowment Fund

(October 16, 2019) United Way of Licking County and The Licking County Foundation announced the establishment of the United Way of Licking County Endowment Fund at a private event on Tuesday evening at the Reese Center.  Deb Dingus, United Way of Licking County executive director, told the gathering that the world of philanthropy and United Way Worldwide is ever-changing. “United Way of Licking County has served our community for more than 86 years and we want to ensure that we will be here for another 86 years. The endowment fund is being established to provide financial sustainability for United Way’s mission.”


Dingus went on to say that the endowment fund will provide stability to help the organization withstand changes in the economy. Annual campaign goals rise each year as the needs in the community rise. The income from an endowment can help offset any shortfalls in the campaign, allowing United Way to maintain current levels of support to the community.


The Licking County Foundation Executive Director Connie Hawk, who also spoke at the event, explained how the fund would be managed and its potential benefits for the community. “We are so pleased to be able to partner with United Way of Licking County in this way. This fund will help the organization further its mission of improving lives by uniting the community.”


The event was sponsored by TrueCore Federal Credit Union, Matesich Distributing Company, Central Ohio Technical College, and The Ohio State University-Newark.


United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community and encourages each community resident to give, advocate, and volunteer. To Live Better, we must Live United.



(August 13, 2019 NEWARK, Ohio)  For more than 85 years, the United Way of Licking County (UWLC) has done extraordinary work to improve people’s lives and build strong communities. Working year-round with volunteers, funded partners, and the community, UWLC seeks to create long-lasting changes so each person can achieve their full potential. A key component of this mission is to engage volunteers at an annual UWLC event – Week of Caring – to unite individuals and community organizations in continuing to make Licking County a great place to live, work, and play.


This year’s Week of Caring kick-off event will take place at the Canal Market District in Downtown Newark on Friday, September 6. Volunteers will join together for a meal, hear updates to the UWLC campaign, and kick-off a week of serving the community. Projects are hosted all over the county including Licking County Aging Program, Together We Grow Gardens, PBJ Connections, Carol Strawn Center, Villages of Hebron, Hanover and Utica, and many more. Volunteers will be on-site painting, weeding, cooking meals, and repairing.


This annual event is a great way for businesses to get involved with non-profit organizations they help fund each year. Companies such as Covestro, Park National Bank, and Licking Memorial Health Systems send teams of volunteers to serve. “Allowing employees who work and/or live in our community to physically help with the organizations they are supporting is such a unique opportunity – and it’s fun! The volunteers love being able to escape their offices for a bit to get their hands dirty,” says Deb Dingus, UWLC’s Executive Director. “United Way is about uniting the community. That’s the goal for Week of Caring and what we strive to do.”


United Way Thanks Community

(April 3, 2019, Newark OH)  United Way of Licking County thanked the businesses, organizations, and individuals who supported them throughout their annual campaign during their 86th Annual Meeting & Recognition Breakfast on Thursday, April 4.

Dan Moder, United Way Campaign Cabinet Chair and the Executive Director of Explore Licking County, announced the preliminary campaign results as $1,500,269. Moder thanked the Campaign Cabinet, the Loaned Executives, and the United Way Staff for their hard work. Moder told those in attendance, “Because of your belief in the United Way mission, the fabric of Licking County only becomes stronger, as every man, woman and child finds the opportunity to live a life of potential. Without you, the mission is lost. I am forever blessed to have had this amazing opportunity to serve”.

During the breakfast, United Way Executive Director, Deb Dingus and Campaign Chair, Dan Moder presented The Park National Bank with the Spirit of United Way Award. A new award, The Spirit Award was given to Park for their commitment to Licking County and United Way through their intentional and consistent support. Park is the largest donor to UWLC, supporting their efforts both financially and through volunteerism. Dingus said, “The Park National Bank and its employees truly embrace the Spirit of United Way’s efforts to build a better community.”

UWLC awarded the Ken Johnston Volunteer Award to Candy Lehman. Lehman chairs on the board of both the American Red Cross and Licking County Aging Program. Lehman was credited with hours of volunteering and dedication to both organizations. The Hope Award was presented to Anita Fioravanti. Fioravanti was nominated by The Salvation Army for the award which embodies those who benefitted from United Way programs and who then used their life to inspire hope in others.

Dingus, Moder, and the Campaign Cabinet presented the Live United Awards to Denison University, Owens Corning, The Woodlands, and Explore Licking County. The Live United award is given to a company/organization that partners with the UWLC to improve people’s lives by uniting the community. The partnership includes active participation in volunteer activities, financial support, and advocating for the community and UWLC.

Loaned Executives Cassandra Carey and Ethan George recognized Denison University’s Bob Ghiloni with the Employee Campaign Coordinator of the Year Award. George stated that, “this year’s award winner is serving in this capacity for the first time this year. He has a full plate but made room enough to increase his workplace’s contribution by over 52% as well as increase participation by nearly double. He held special fundraisers and created space for United Way staff to speak in front of his peers in new ways.”

The Campaign Cabinet also awarded Division Awards to 35 local companies and organizations that increased in donations, volunteering, and advocating.

Tim Keith, Vice President of Community Impact, announced that because of the generosity of the community, UWLC will distribute $1,116,050 in grants to 54 programs that focus on Behavioral Health; Children, Youth, and Families; and Poverty.
Dingus again thanked the community saying, “It is because of your generosity that more than 155,000 services were provided in 2018. Together we can make Licking County a healthier and stronger community.”



NEWARK- United Way of Licking County (UWLC) gave an update with a football themed Mid-Campaign Report Breakfast Thursday morning. 

The Park National Bank’s Joan Franks, in her role as the United Way Campaign Chair, told the crowd of approximately 80 people that UWLC is over halfway to their goal. Franks said, “Last year, because of the generosity of this community, we were able to fund programs that impacted 77,674 individuals. Our goal is to raise enough money this year to fund programs that will impact 90,000 individuals. We are 62.31% to that goal.  We need your help to finish this very important goal.  Can we count on you?”

Franks reiterated her theme this year, “Licking County has over 88,000 gainfully employed people. If each of them gave just $1 per week for 52 weeks that would raise over four million dollars for our community. It is important to give everyone the opportunity to give.”

UWLC Executive Director, Deb Dingus, reminded the crowd of the need in our community and why it is so important to raise the dollars. She shared that 472 children were removed from their homes last month due to neglect and abuse because of addiction, that nearly 300 people are homeless on any given day, and that there were over 500 confirmed domestic violence cases.   Dingus thanked those who have given and encouraged those who have not to consider making a donation this year.

Each Campaign Division Chair gave an update at the breakfast. Education Chair, Licking Valley Superintendent David Hile, reported that the education division is over their goal. United Way Loaned Executive Ethan George also shared that the Public Service Division has exceeded their goal.

The morning event ended with an opportunity to “feed the team.” Franks encouraged those in attendance to take back a box of donuts to their team at work who helped raise the dollars for the campaign as a thank you. The donuts quickly sold out.

UWLC will hold their Annual Meeting and Report Breakfast on Thursday, May 3, at Denison’s Mitchell Center. United way will give a final report, recognizing successful campaigns, and announce what programs they will be funding in 2018.



Addiction and Mental Health Challenges


The United Way of Licking County Community Partners Council (CPC) will discuss Addiction and Mental Health Challenges at its quarterly meeting on Wednesday, September 6th.  The meeting, open to the public, will be held at the Licking County Library at 101 West Main Street in Newark.


United Way of Licking County (UWLC) is convening community leaders to discuss this timely topic. Deaths related to methamphetamine has increased by 39% from 2015 to 2016.  In 2015, 8% of all accidental overdoses were from fentanyl and carfentanil and in 2016, 38.9% of all accidental overdoses were from fentanyl and carfentanil. According to the Licking County Health Department, we are beginning to see more fentanyl and carfentanil in our county so we can expect to see more accidental overdoses from these drugs.

Many times with the use of drugs we see child abuse and domestic violence.  As of June 30, 2017 there were 446 children in foster care.  According to the Licking County Job & family Services (LCJFS), more than 75% of the children were in their care due to parental drug use.


Featured topics and speakers for the CPC meeting will include “State & County Priorities” Kay Spergel, Executive Director Mental Health & Recovery for Licking & Knox Counties; “ER Overdose Cases & Children Born With Addiction Issues” Brad Copley, Director of Emergency Services Licking Memorial Hospital; “Families’ Experiences” Carie Spicer, Founder of Save Our Billy; “Available Services” Jim Takacs, Executive Director Licking County Alcoholism Prevention Program; “Children’s Services Referrals & Children Placed in Substitute Care due to Parental Substance Use” Kim Wilhelm, Protective Services Administrator Licking County Job & Family Services; “NARI Program” Newark Police Office Trent Stanford and Advocate Colleen Richards; and “Impact of Issues on Education” Doug Ute, Superintendent Newark City Schools.


The United Way of Licking County Community Partners Council encourages collaboration, communication, and shared resources that strengthen Licking County and provide opportunities for professional development and mentorship.


The meetings are open to the public at no cost.  For more information about becoming a member of the United Way of Licking County Community Partners Council and the meeting's topics contact the United Way of Licking County at 740.345.6685 or go to


United Way of Licking County Announces Funding for 46 Programs

United Way of Licking County (UWLC) announces they are increasing their funding 5% this year due to the generosity of donors. The UWLC Board approved $1,050,007 to fund 46 programs through 22 community agencies at their board meeting Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Three new programs are part of this funding, they include Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio’s Recovery Housing, PBJ Connections’ Family Coaching, and Canal Market District’s Food Access Program.  

“As UWLC continues to evaluate and respond to the greatest need in our community, we are grateful for the increase in donations by local companies, organizations, and individuals,” said UWLC Executive Director Deb Dingus.  The funding decisions were made following months of concentrated work by many dedicated volunteers. Funding for the awarded programs begins July 1, 2017.  

Funding from UWLC is awarded through a competitive grant process. That process will begin again with the posting of the Letter of Intent (LOI) on the UWLC website on July 1, 2017.  Moving forward, UWLC will increasingly tie funding to measurable and quantified outcomes that address United Way community impact goals identified in their Strategic Plan which is aligned with the county’s Community Blueprint priorities: Behavioral Health; Children, Youth & Families; and Poverty. UWLC allocations for the 2017-18 campaign donations will be 35% - Behavioral Health, 35% -  Poverty, and 30% - Children, Youth, and Families.   
UWLC would like to thank everyone who supported the annual campaign. To live better we must Live United.





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United Way of Licking County

PO Box 4490
50 S. Second St., 2nd Floor

Newark, OH 43058-4490


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