Verplanks to lead United Way drive

Tony and Monica Verplank of Spring Lake have been named the 2014-15 Greater Ottawa County United Way Community Campaign co-chairpersons.
Aug 29, 2014


The campaign officially launches Sept. 18.

The Verplanks are longtime supporters of United Way, both personally and through successful workplace campaigns at the Shape Corp. family of companies in Grand Haven and Spring Lake.

Tony is president of Pliant Plastics Corp. in Spring Lake. He has served on United Way‘s board of directors and the board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg, serving as chairman for both. He also serves on several for-profit boards. Tony earned a B.A. in finance at Michigan State University and an MBA at Case Western Reserve University.

Monica has served as a trustee on various community boards including the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Spring Lake Schools Foundation, Grand Haven Schools Foundation, North Bank Communities Fund and Kandu Inc. She worked as assistant superintendent for instructional services for Grand Haven Area Public Schools. She is a master educator in yoga, meditation and Ayurveda through the Chopra Center for Well-being, and a certified Ayurvedic Life-Style Consultant through the American Institute of Vedic Studies. Monica has a deep passion for teaching, learning and assisting others in their own self-improvement.

Tony and Monica are no strangers to campaigning, having served as the Lighthouse Leadership Circle co-chairpersons for the north county in the 2010-11 campaign.

The Verplanks lead a campaign cabinet of 30 volunteers from area companies, organizations and agencies who have been working throughout the summer to launch the campaign. Cabinet members are meeting with the heads of nearly 200 major firms, small businesses, professional offices and governmental units in the county to thank them for their past support and lend any assistance they may require in setting up their 2014-15 workplace campaigns.

“We believe our challenge this year is to be strategic in reaching all the people in Ottawa County who can participate in the campaign, because we believe that United Way is the best way for us to come together as neighbors and create effective local solutions to local problems,” Monica Verplank said. “Through United Way, the community asks, ‘Where are the gaps?’ and then collaborates to fill those gaps – whether they are in education, health, financial stability or basic needs.”

Monica will announce the community campaign goal at the Grand Haven Campground in Grand Haven Township at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18. Hundreds of volunteers will be gathered there for lunch sponsored and prepared by A.D. Bos Vending Service of Holland, with additional donations from Hillshire Brands of Zeeland. This annual volunteer lunch takes place as part of the communitywide Day of Caring, which is the largest one-day volunteer event in Ottawa County.

To give, advocate or volunteer, visit, or call 616-842-7130.



While United Way "supports" a lot of good organizations, I have never really understood why people give to the United Way instead of directly to the organizations they support. For instance, if my charitable giving budget is 10,000 per year (about $200 per week), why don't I just give that money to the organizations I am most passionate about. By giving to United Way, they simply take a little off of the top for overhead and bureaucracy before passing it on to the charity. So if you want to give to one (or more) of the great organizations supported by United Way (here is a partial list: ) , why not give to them directly?

By the way, I understand that there are other reasons people feel compelled to give to United Way (peer pressure at work, and ease of giving through payroll deduction if people do not necessarily have the self-discipline to give on their own), but it feels like that should be the last way to give and not the first.

Thanks to all who support the good work of non-profits in our community.


Exactly. United Way is borderline scam.

Very little of what is given to them actually goes to those in need. They have very aggressive and hostile marketing tactics. Almost all of the money that is given to them goes to the fat cats at the top. This whole ALS Ice Bucket thing is the exact same way.

I NEVER support corporate charities. I prefer to give directly to those in need.

Harry Kovaire

I agree with your and Jason's remarks. I find UW's use of local employers to extort donations from employees especially distasteful.

Donate directly to these worthy causes and eliminate the middleman.

The Ottawa County Executive Director's salary is $99,135.


I too agree and have to put in my 2 cents worth....

Back years ago both my wife and I donated to the UW every year thru their employee humiliation program. Then, in 1992, we found ourselves in need of some assistance paying for a $500.00 a month heart monitor for our newly born son. I was laid-off at the time and we had no way to cover the costs of that monitor. We applied to UW, jumped thru their hoops with repeated requests and were basically told we made too much money to be worthy of their help.

We haven't donated one red cent to them since. Our charity donations go directly to where we want them to go. Charities should not be money making opportunities for a handful of "administrators".

truth wins

According to the last public annual audit the Ottawa County United Way creates $7.5 million of local community benefit from a $2.2 million dollar campaign with 10,000 donors and 8,000 volunteers. According to the leading national non-profit watchdog group the ottawa county united way receives their highest star rating for efficiciency, effectiveness and transparency, putting it in the top 5% of all non-profits in the country.


I do not think anyone is saying that United Way does not have an impact. What I am hearing here is that there would be an even greater impact if the 2.2 million dollars from 10,000 donors was donated directly to the end charities instead of to a bureaucratic middle man that takes a cut. The other important point is that charity that is really given out of desire and passion to give is so much more valuable and impactful than charity that appears to be forced by employer pressure.

Don't get me wrong, I am a big believer in the power of purposeful giving, I just want to make sure my giving and the giving of others makes the largest possible impact.

By the way, I fully understand that there a few programs that are directly managed by United Way, but most of the role of United Way seems to be just a way to funnel money.

I hope everyone will give to the good works of our area non-profits, but I encourage them to give directly when possible.


Typical rich members in the community looking for a pat on the back. Wonder how much of their millions that have/make, they donate?


A pat on the back is not the Verplank's way. They are very philanthropic and do much for the Tri-cities area, most of which isn't public. I knew Gary, Vicky and the kids from when they came into our business each week. In spite of their presumed wealth, they are very trusting and down to earth people.

truth wins

I agree with polarize. A very caring, giving, modest, and down-to-earth family whose actions consistently prove they care about their employees and their community.


How does a person with no college education get a job as ghaps as a (assistant superintendent for instructional services) ??...


Nepotism, It's a loop in the system? In better taste.


Buys their way in.....

Not to mention, their name, which should mean nothing. But this is GH folks.....


I am sorry to hear all of the Verplank bashing. I actually think they are fine people that have done a lot to contribute to our community. I have actually known some Verplanks personally and have found them to be people of good quality looking out for the community. They have also contributed to our community's economic fortunes. While many of the large traditional companies were leaving the tri-cities, the Verplanks dug in to build reliable and stable company providing jobs to our community.

With that said, I still think the United Way is one of the most non-nonsensical ways to give to charity. Please give directly to the charities you are most interested in ... skip the middle man and make your giving dollars go further.


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