Heart of Rockford Business Association helps to raise funds for Strong Kids Scholarships


The Heart of Rockford Business Association (HRBA) is pleased to announce it has partnered with the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA for HRBA’s January 15-31 Community Unity program. The HRBA launched Community Unity in April 2009 to provide nonprofits with the opportunity to raise money for their organizations by shopping and dining locally, rather than deferring local dollars to catalogs, chains, big box stores or Internet sales.

Three times a year (Jan. 15-31, April 15-30, Oct. 15-31), participating HRBA businesses donate 10 percent of sales to the partnering nonprofit whenever a customer presents his or her Community Unity ID card at the time of sale.

Bev Thiel, executive director of the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA, noted that the YMCA Belmont branch “is excited to partner with the Heart of Rockford to raise money for its Strong Kids Scholarships. The YMCA provides programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all, and this means not turning anyone away due to their ability to pay. The YMCA offers scholarship money for families with financial needs so that they can participate in sports programs, after-school tutoring, summer camp, and a variety of classes and activities.” Thiel also noted so far this year the YMCA has served 180 people in the amount of $60,380.

HRBA businesses participating in the Jan. 15-31 Community Unity program include: A Charmed Life Nail Salon, Aunt Candy’s Toy Company, Baskets in the Belfry, Bow-Dacious Designs, The Corner Bar, Creative Concepts, Dam Dogs, G. Willikers, Great Northern Trading Co., Imperial Computer Solutions, Jade, J.T. Stitchery & Frame Shop, Kimberly’s Boutique, Paper Doll, Pegasus Sports, Poindexter’s Specialty Marketplace, Reading Books, Reds on the River, Right at Home, Right Up Your Alley, The Rockford Squire, Rogue River Tavern, Sage & Roses, Ward’s Hair Place, and Xscape Salon.

The YMCA will distribute Community Unity ID cards at its Belmont location, as well as have them available online at www.grymca.org, or clip from this week’s issue of The Rockford Squire newspaper. Members are encouraged to share the cards with family, friends and colleagues, as well as forward them electronically. The more Community Unity cards in circulation, the greater the potential to raise funds for Strong Kids Scholarships. Whenever a customer presents the Community Unity card the participating business will donate 10 percent of the sale to the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA Strong Kids Scholarships. At the end of the two-week period, the participating businesses will turn in their contributions to the YMCA to underwrite the scholarships.

Community Unity developer and HRBA steering committee member Meredith Gremel, noted, “The beauty of the Community Unity program is it not only raises vital resources for local community services, it keeps dollars local, fueling local businesses, jobs and economic stability. This doesn’t happen with catalog or Internet fundraisers. Participants also have the opportunity to purchase items that they want and need, can touch, try on, and return if they don’t work out. In the case of perishable items, products are much fresher and there is far more variety. Plus, for those who have organized fundraisers, the benefit of not having to coordinate orders, collect money, recruit volunteers, and stand on cold loading docks waiting for pick-up is a big plus.”

Gremel also noted that distributing the Community Unity card is much easier—and safer—than having children going from door to door. “It’s so easy to get family, friends and co-workers involved just by e-mailing the cards and posting notices via social networking, and it’s a great feeling knowing your purchases are helping others enjoy the tremendous services of the YMCA.”

Other local nonprofits interested in partnering with the HRBA should contact Meredith Gremel at Gremel Communications Inc., (616) 450-2169 or

mgremel@comcast.net. The HRBA is a subgroup of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce. HRBA is currently comprised of 31 downtown Rockford businesses working together to improve the local community.

Statistics support the power of buying locally. According to Local First, for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remain in the community, versus $43 (at best) with a national chain. The local dollar drain for catalog and Internet sales is even more significant. For more information on these statistics, visit www.localfirst.com/why.

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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.