By Mike Kruzman /

The Livingston County United Way honored local volunteers Wednesday at its annual Spirit of the Community breakfast.

More than 200 people gathered at Crystal Gardens in Genoa Township, Wednesday morning, for the Livingston County United Way’s Annual Spirit of the Community meeting.

Jeff Blagg, Pastor of SonRise Church and current United Way Board President hosted the event and began it by welcoming newly elected Board members: Rick Todd, Kelli Matthew, Teresa Falzetti, and Luke Nolan.

A highlight of the breakfast every year is the skit put on by Board members, donors and volunteers. This year’s skit, “Climbing Mountains Together,” was centered around helping a hitchhiker accomplish his goal through the support of the community helping through each step of the climb.

2021 Campaign Co-Chairs Rick Todd and Penny Murphy recognized over 100 Workplace Campaign Successes, highlighting partners for extraordinary donations and participation.

United Way Executive Director Anne Rennie then presented the 2021 Volunteer of the Year awards. Brighton High School student Noah Shand won the Young Person of Distinction Award and the BHS Leadership Class won Youth Organization of the Year. The Charles W. Itsell Volunteer of the Year winner was Livingston County Drain Commissioner Brian Jonckheere. Patti Griffith of First National Bank/Bank of Ann Arbor was recognized with the Donald Epley Lifetime Service Award, and First Impression Print & Marketing took home the Randy Rudisill Business of the Year Award.

The meeting concluded with two calls to action. One was to join the United Way with their new sustainability efforts and Earth Day Scavenger Hunt. The other was to invite everyone to become a part of the Community Investment process which helps to determine how donated dollars are spent.

To learn more about the local United Way, visit

(Photos: Livingston County United Way)