The United Way of Ellis County announces that Erica Berges, administrative assistant for the past five years, will serve as interim executive director beginning Sept. 6, as Sherry Dryden, executive director, has received opportunity for new work challenges outside of the United Way and will be stepping down at that time.

“I am honored to have been a part of the United Way community and so proud of the direction it is going — and look forward to continuing my support from a different capacity,” Dryden said.

During the past four years, the United Way of Ellis County has grown through community impact programs such as, the Community Resource Directory and phone app, Northwest Kansas Volunteers website, and most recently, RealityU. A major impact has been the formation of the Wonder Women League that has established the following community impact projects: Matthew’s Gift, Born Learning Trail, Women’s Self-Defense Class, and their major fundraiser – The Power of the Purse.

Additionally, the United Way facilitates the CARE Council process for partner agency funding by three funding streams. This process has developed into an online application process.

“We are so thankful for Sherry’s service. She has really positioned us well for continued success. We will rely on Erica’s extensive background with the organization and our partner agencies to help us through the transition period. We do not expect this change to impact our mission of service and we are excited about the upcoming campaign,” UWEC Board Vice-President and 2019 Campaign Chair, Kelly Lewis, said.

The United Way of Ellis County completed its newest strategic plan last fall with a fresh new direction that is proving growth and sustainability. They created a new branding theme of “United Today, United Forever” which will take it to and through the future. Additionally, the development of a Planned Giving and Endowed program has already netted their first commitment. The purpose of the program is to fund the organization’s administrative expenses so 100 percent of campaign funds goes towards partner agency allocations. There are currently 17 partner agencies with the United Way.

The 2019 Campaign of the United Way is “Give Where You Live.” The Board of Directors has launched the Business Campaign, using a Donor Centered model in partnering with companies for the payroll deduction portion of the campaign. The United Way has its Chamber Kickoff at noon Aug. 23rd and its community kickoff at 4 p.m. Aug. 23rd with the Hays Public Library.

Berges coordinates the CARE Council process, manages the financial processes, the campaign marketing and is the liaison for the Wonder Women League. Her diverse experience with the United Way will ensure a smooth transition. She has resided in Hays since 2009 and is an FHSU graduate. She and her husband Michael, who are both very active in the Hays community, have three sons and she is looking forward to the continued new direction of the United Way. Meanwhile the Board of Directors will begin the search process for the new Executive Director with future announcements.