United Way director Vicki Smith looks over some paperwork in her new office in downtown Van Wert. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)
United Way director Vicki Smith looks over some paperwork in her new office in downtown Van Wert. (DHI Media/Jim Langham)

VAN WERT – Things are different these days for United Way of Van Wert County executive director Vicki Smith. Recently, Smith moved her agency from its location on Westwood Drive to Main Street in downtown Van Wert.

The new office is located at 136 E. Main St. beside the Van Wert County Foundation.

Smith said that she had been in the Westwood location for six years and admitted that she was a little reluctant to move downtown. However, it didn’t take her long to see how much better it was to be more accessible in the downtown area and also closer to other non-profit offices.

“Dan Baisden, executive director for Main Street, had purchased the office building, located just east of the old Marsh Hotel Building,” observed Smith.

Smith said it was Baisden’s hope that other non-profit organizations would join each other in the same area.

“I talked to the (United Way) Board and we weighed out the pros and cons of moving downtown,” said Smith. “We realized that we had more visibility downtown and people could walk right into the office.”

Smith said that Baisden’s hope was that other non-profit businesses would connect and work together on various projects.

“We have several clusters of agencies downtown,” said Smith. “We have accessibility to collaborate with the likes of the YMCA, YWCA, Salvation Army, Crime Victims Services and other county agencies. It’s actually very convenient for all of us.” Smith said that she loves it that she can see the downtown movement and all of the people downtown.

“It gives us a chance to see more people and to be more visible and have more accessibility. There is a lot more flexibility in all of this,” said Smith. “There is a large cluster of non-profit organizations here together. It’s not only the closeness, but the chance to work together on various projects.

“I was a little leery to start with, but now that I’ve been here for two months, I like it really well,” noted Smith.

Smith said that she likes being enclosed in a building that contains several non-profit agencies. In addition, there is a large board meeting in the back of the building that can be utilized by all agencies or rented for other special purposes.

Smith noted that the up to date United Way video has just been issued.

“I want people to have full walk-in access to us,” said Smith. “I want them to know what we do, what we are working on the part they can play in all of this.”