Community Voices: celebrating United Way’s campaign, local women in our community and more

Ashley Richter is the executive director at United Way of Lee County.

Everyone is invited to United Way’s 2023-2024 Campaign Celebration Luncheon, scheduled to take place at noon May 1, at the Post House Ballroom in Dixon.

Join us in celebrating the collective impact we’ve made together and honoring the achievements of the past year. This luncheon promises to be an inspiring and uplifting gathering as we reflect on the positive changes we’ve brought to our community through United Way’s initiatives. Tickets for the luncheon cost $20 per person or $150 for a table of eight.

Tickets can be bought online at Don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals dedicated to creating positive change in our community. Your presence will make our celebration even more meaningful. Please RSVP by April 24. Your timely response is appreciated. We eagerly anticipate celebrating another successful campaign year with our community!

Along, with our upcoming celebration luncheon, you can support United Way through our other upcoming events. We will be partnering with Tipsy to hold a guest bartender night from 5-8 p.m. April 26. Our guest bartenders will be working to earn tips that directly benefit United Way of Lee County.

So far, our guest bartenders include Sarah Partington from Sauk Valley Community College, Ashley Como from Heartland Realty and KSB, Samantha Schmitt from Hicks Insurance, Amber Schmidt from Discover Dixon and Ashley Richter from United Way of Lee County. Stop in between 5 and 8 p.m. to show your support.

We also will be partnering with Coffee Crush on May 6, to hold our annual Coffee for A Cause Day! You can stop by Coffee Crush anytime that day to grab your favorite food and drink and a percentage of all sales will be donated to United Way. We love being able to partner with local businesses to create unique and fun fundraising opportunities. If you own a business and want to get involved in supporting United Way, reach out to Ashley at We are happy to discuss opportunities on how we can partner!

Money that we raise through our campaign and events helps support 29 of our partner agencies and programs that they run. We will be highlighting a partner agency in each of our columns to also help raise awareness of what they do in the community. This month, we want to feature the YWCA of the Sauk Valley.

YWCA of the Sauk Valley

YWCA of the Sauk Valley provides services in Lee and Whiteside counties. Their mission is “Eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” It is a United Way agency and receives support to help fund programs and initiatives in Lee County. It also provides school-based counseling services for grades kindergarten through eighth and after-school programs such as techGYRLS to fourth graders and Girls Space to sixth and seventh graders.

There are many events throughout the year that the YWCA hosts and participates in. A few of these events are Week without Violence, the tamale fundraiser, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Fiesta Parade and many more.

Currently, preparations are underway for the Women of Achievement luncheon April 18 at the Dixon Elks Club. Typically, 350 to 400 people participate in this event.

This luncheon honors nominations received from the community for amazing women who have made an impact in our communities. The categories honored are:

  • Crete Dillon Bowman Award is for women with outstanding voluntary or career leadership in efforts to build and strengthen the community.
  • L. L. Ely Award honors women who have shown excellence, professionalism, and accomplishment as administrative professionals/assistants.
  • Jane Reid Keefer Award recognizes women’s career accomplishments in medical, legal, social service, teaching, and nonprofit fields.
  • Louise Bittorf Sullivan Award honors women who are an inspiration to a broad range of people around them.
  • Pearl Woods Award recognizes women whose career accomplishments are focused in industry and private business.
  • Young Woman of Tomorrow is an award for outstanding accomplishment and leadership potential for young women ages 15 to 22.
  • Spirit of Achievement is a posthumous award for women not honored during their lifetime.

For information on how to nominate a local woman, reserve a ticket for the event, participate or volunteer, contact the YWCA of the Sauk Valley at 815-625-0333.

• Ashley Richter is the executive director of the United Way of Lee County.