United Way of Putnam County - Putnam Sentinel
Jan Fuetter, Executive Director of the United Way of Putnam County stands in the agency's office. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

PUTNAM COUNTY — “I was at the library for about 12 years. I did a lot of community work there with adult programming and reference questions for the entire system,” begins Jan Fuetter, who assumed the role of Executive Director at the United Way of Putnam County approximately three weeks ago. “This is a great new way to get involved in the community. It’s a real honor to be a part of United Way,”

“There are big shoes to fill,” Fuetter acknowledges. “Jeanne Beutler did a wonderful job, and she’s still very involved, helping me learn the ropes. She’s a wonderful person.” It remains impossible to overstate Beutler’s impact at the agency. She led the United Way of Putnam County for nearly 19 years, beginning in July of 1999. Her legacy with the many agencies within Putnam County during that time period, and the populations they serve, would be impossible to quantify.

Even still, Fuetter seems prepared to step into the role and lead. “It’s been a trial by fire,” she says of the last few weeks. “Everything’s still happening, so I’m learning on my feet. It’s been great. We have a wonderful board of volunteers who are very passionate about serving the community. They’ve been helping me.”

“My first day on the job was allocation interviews. Which is when the agencies come and present their needs. That was wonderful. I learned from day one what each of them needs and what the money that they receive from us goes towards. It’s really humbling, to know all that people do in our community. It’s wonderful.”

When asked if anything in particular surprised her or stood out during these allocation interviews, Fuetter responds, “I think, overall, what stood out to me, was how many different agencies there are and the type of programming they encompass.”

“From helping children to helping elderly to helping with prescription medication, to helping with repairs to your home - we really do try to find all sectors of society that need help, and try to find a way to solve issues. It’s not just children. It’s not just education. It’s not just the elderly. All of the agencies we assist represent our entire community. It’s the big picture, that’s what amazed me.”

“Two things stand out,” Fuetter says when asked how her 12 years of experience at the library will contribute to her efforts with the United Way. “One, I was constantly dealing with folks in the community who wanted answers to a problem. This is very similar to what I do here, as far as identifying needs and finding the answer to how we can meet those needs.”

“Secondly, we do a lot of events and fundraising. I was constantly doing programming and events for the library in the community, and I loved it. I love that part of this too. We had a few feet on the ground at the library, and there are few feet on the ground here. So, I understand how that works.”

In 2017, the United Way of Putnam County provided direct financial assistance to American Red Cross, Putnam County; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Putnam County; Boy Scouts of America, Black Swamp Area Council; Challenged Champions Equestrian Center; Crime Victim Services; Family & Children First Council; Girl Scouts of Western Ohio; HHWP Community Action Commission; Ottawa Senior Citizens Association; Pathways Counseling Center; Putnam County Cancer Assistance Program; Putnam County Council on Aging; Putnam County Habitat for Humanity; Putnam County Homecare & Hospice; Putnam County YMCA; and the United Way in-house programs: Fighting Hunger Program and the Imagination Library.

As the agency frequently points out, 100 percent of funds raised in Putnam County stay in Putnam County. Community volunteers carefully review all funding requests, ensuring that contributions support programs that effectively address the needs of Putnam County residents.