United Way recognizes new chairman

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Derek Wohlgemuth, new chairman of the United Way of Leavenworth County, presents an award to outgoing Chairman Larry Martin. The presentation was made Thursday during an annual meeting of United Way of Leavenworth County.

After five years, the United Way of Leavenworth County has a new chairman.

The new chairman, Derek Wohlgemuth, said a person normally serves in the position for one year. But his predecessor, Larry Martin, served in that capacity for five years.

Wohlgemuth credits Martin with rebuilding the organization.

The new chairman spoke Thursday during an annual meeting of the United Way of Leavenworth County.

“We want to continue to recover, rebuild and unite Leavenworth County,” Wohlgemuth said.

He referenced the theme for the 2020-2021 fundraising campaign for the United Way of Leavenworth County. The theme was Recover Rebuild – Let’s Be United.

The United Way of Leavenworth County supports multiple nonprofit organizations.

Wohlgemuth served as the chairman for the fundraising campaign, which raised more than $215,000.

Nancy Bauder, executive director of United Way of Leavenworth County, said the previous year’s campaign raised only about $130,000.

Various donors were recognized during Thursday’s meeting.

Bauder said the awards presented to the donors were in recognition of their support during the previous two years. That is because no awards were presented last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t have an annual meeting last year,” she said.

Martin said the last few years have been challenging for the United Way of Leavenworth County. But he praised the work of the organization’s Board of Directors. He said the board members work hard to make a difference in the community.

“I can assure you, they’ve done a lot of work over the last two years,” he said.

Keith Rickard, executive director of The Guidance Center, was the keynote speaker for Thursday’s meeting.

The Guidance Center is a community mental health agency that serves Leavenworth, Atchison and Jefferson counties.

Rickard reviewed the work of a Leavenworth County Mental Health Task Force. The group had sought to have a proposed tax increase put before voters in the county last year in order to generate additional funding for mental health services.

The ballot measure was withdrawn because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rickard said the requested tax increase may not be needed at this time. He said The Guidance Center may benefit from a change in state law that could lead to a change in how the organization is reimbursed through Medicaid. He said the change could provide more stable funding.

In the meantime, The Guidance Center has applied for a couple of federal grants that, if approved, would enable the organization to do several of the things previously proposed by the task force.

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