About 20 job seekers connected with local employers May 9 at a Reverse Commute Job Fair in Lebanon to explore a variety of vacancies, complete applications and arrange interviews. Commuters and businesses alike were enthusiastic about the bus line that is opening between the IndyGo stop at Capitol and Ohio and the Lebanon Business Park. This is an exciting collaboration that addresses community needs. United Way of Central Indiana applauds the efforts of the Lebanon business community, CIRTA, Boone County Senior Services and the supporting human service agencies that are working together so people have the tools and support to create financial stability.
A reverse commute is a route regularly taken from a metropolitan area to a suburban area for employment. Reverse commuters travel in the opposite direction of typical commuters and encounter less traffic congestion.
--Christie Snyder, Boone County Area Director for United Way of Central Indiana
Imagine how you feel when you realize you've missed out on something big. You missed an invite to a great party, or were looked over for a career changing project at work. No matter what it was, it can leave you feeling depressed and confused about being left behind. Now, imagine starting kindergarten then realizing that other kids around you were exposed to 32 million more words than you were. It probably feels impossible to catch up and difficult not to feel cheated.
Unfortunately, children from low-income neighborhoods are at high-risk of what researchers call a "word deficit". Among socioeconomic groups, there is not only a disparity in the complexity of words used, but also astonishing differences in the quantity. Children of professionals are, on average, exposed to approximately 1,500 more words hourly than children growing up in poverty. This results in a gap of more than 32 million words by the time the children reached the age of 4.
So, how do we shrink the gap? At United Way, we believe that high-quality child care can make a big difference for a future kindergartner. We also believe in the power of a caring adult and strong community partnerships. Why not bring them all together?
At Mt. Carmel Academy, 11 volunteers spent time with 11 preschoolers exploring new vocabulary words. They played educational apps on iPads, practiced literacy skills with games and read stories to puppies. Yep, puppies.
United Way, WFYI and Indy-Humane leveraged their relationship as Reuben Community Grant recipients to create a kindergarten readiness event featuring PBS Kids' "Martha Speaks", a TV show about a talking dog who teaches puppies new vocabulary. The volunteers, who were iPad experts, helped the students practice and explore new literacy skills and spent time playing and reading with puppies - just like Martha.
While puppies, preschoolers and iPads may be an unlikely match-up, it was the perfect way for these future kindergartners to get a boost and close that word gap so they can be ready to learn in August.
- Heather Girton, Early Childhood Project Manager, United Way of Central Indiana
Your gifts, William’s story: United Way income investment matched employer with a good worker who now has a good life
Last June, William LaCour, 55, celebrated his 20th anniversary as an employee of Bright Ideas, a Broad Ripple family-owned specialty advertising business. What makes that milestone an even greater cause for celebration is that William's beating the odds by even having a job.
An estimated 70 percent of working age people with disabilities, like William, are unemployed or underemployed. William not only has a steady income that allows him to meet basic needs, but he and his wife live across the street from his office in a home they are buying.
Bev Middaugh, CEO, hired him after a job specialist at Noble of Indiana met with her about offering supported employment for one of their clients. Reluctant at first, Bev did agree to making a list of duties an entry level staffer might do to free up others to focus on their jobs. With that long list, Bev agreed to interview Will, and immediately hired him.
Now, he's the go-to man at Bright Ideas, taking care of cleaning, moving boxes, managing inventory and any number of other daily chores. Joking with Bev, William tells her that he doesn't know "what she would do without him."
In recent years, William and Bev have made presentations to help others see what their experience has proven: an investment in supporting workers like William with training and job placement pays dividends for the whole community.
Once after William spoke to other Noble clients about his work and his life, Bev said his audience was "enraptured that he had the life they wanted. He is their super hero!"
"Will's story beautifully illustrates United Way's mission: helping people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives," said Rita Davis, Noble's director of community development. "Our jobs can help shape and direct other areas of our lives. By achieving success and finding happiness and self sufficiency in his job, Will has done just that."
--Mary L. Kinney, Public/media relations director
Note: You can meet William and Bev in this story produced by WTHR Channel 13. Thanks to United Way and its focus on Income, 1.114 persons with disabilities worked in competitive wage jobs for a community-based employer or while self-employed in 2011-2012. United Way currently funds seven agencies that provide employment services to people with disabilities. United Way's total 2012/13 investment in those seven agencies is just over $2.1 million. Thank you!
Since 1958, UWCI has invested more than $14 million helping Noble of Indiana. This includes grants of more than $1.2 million for capital, maintenance and technology improvements from funds contributed specifically for such needs. The agency’s 2012/2013 Community Fund allocation is $451,487.
Where do you turn if you can't see to read in school and an eye exam and glasses aren't in the family budget? In April, for more than 170 IPS students, the answer has a name: it's EyeLeen the mobile vision van that offered free eye exams and free eyeglasses for students referred by their school. It's one of several partnerships that United Way's Bridges to Success sets up to help more kids succeed in school and in life. Thanks to OneSight's mobile clinic, LensCrafters, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical for providing 174 free eye exams and 163 pairs of free eyeglasses to IPS students over two days last month. It made these kiddos from IPS 44 and Ayden smile, and be better prepared in the classroom!
Daisy Miller, age 68, fell out of a car when she was 4 years old and developed Osteomyelitis in her leg bone. The infection never cured, and she battled periodic flare-ups and treatments her entire life. Amputation was finally required, and proud, independent, hard working Daisy had to do something she had never done before: ask for help.
The Westfield trustee referred her to us: PrimeLife Enrichment, a United Way partner, for help with her mortgage, and our social worker arranged for a community partner to make the payment.
Our Assistance to the Homebound Coordinator arranged for SAWS (Servants at Work), a Christian volunteer organization, to build a ramp at her home/business. We also provided a senior companion to help with housekeeping, and found other volunteers to help with some outside work that she was unable to manage.
Reluctantly, Daisy has used our transportation since her surgery. But she prefers to drive herself, and will do so again after she has mastered her permanent prosthesis.
Like Daisy, many people who are fiercely independent will likely always have a time when they need help.
Native of the Ojibwa tribe, Daisy learned to work hard a bit earlier than most. Growing up near Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada, she helped her fur trapper father prepare pelts for market, and worked with her mother to make fishing nets, sew and bead.
The sign in front of Daisy’s Alterations, her Westfield business, states that she can work with leather — an understatement, since Daisy learned to “work with leather” before she learned to read.
She married an American airman who brought her to the U.S. Though the marriage didn’t last, Daisy’s American citizenship did, and America is richer for her choice. She raised the couple’s three children virtually alone.
“I always worked two or three jobs at a time — alterations, factory work, nursing home work.“ Daisy got a few weeks behind in her work after her surgery and the time she needed to learn to walk with her new artificial leg. But soon, she was back to work and again open for business.
--Sandy Stewart, executive director, PrimeLife Enrichment
Note: You can meet Daisy in this story produced by RTV 6. Thanks to United Way and its focus on Health, more than 7,000 senior citizens got help with transportation and received in home services so they did not have to give up their homes and require full time or costly nursing care. Thank you!
United Way currently funds 21 agencies that provide center-based senior programming, either exclusively or as part of a broader services. During the 2011/12 reporting year, more than 48,828 seniors participated in those center-based activities. United Way's total 2012/13 investment in all 21 agencies is just over $4.9 million.
Since 1981, UWCI has invested more than $4.8 million helping PrimeLife Enrichment, Inc. This includes grants of more than $1.8 million for capital, maintenance and technology improvements from funds contributed specifically for such needs. The agency’s 2012/2013 Community Fund allocation is $131,871.
I LIVE UNITED by advocating to help more kids succeed
By Connie Bond Stuart, Regional President, PNC Bank
United Way's Early Childhood Business Council co-chair
Advocating for the change you want to see may be the lesser known of United Way's Give, Advocate, Volunteer mantra. But it's the one that's top of mind to me these days. So far, I've left my PNC bank office three times to go to the State House and join United Way in championing an investment of great value now before the Indiana legislature: policies that recognize early learning as essential to a child’s educational success and to our whole community’s future.
Here are four reasons why I'm joining United Way of Central Indiana in advocating for high quality early learning opportunities for our children and why I am asking others to join us:
- Strong returns. Extensive research indicates that the return on investments in high-quality early education initiatives are significant and long lasting – impacting our children, our society and the health of our economy for generations. Studies have shown that investing $1 in quality early childhood education can generate up to $16 in returns. That is why, beginning in 2004, PNC Bank committed $350 million over several years in our “Grow Up Great” program. This program helps prepare children from birth to age 5 (with an emphasis on underserved children) for success in school and life. Not only do we provide funding to high quality child care centers, we also encourage our employees to volunteer, up to 40 hrs / yr. paid time off, with the added incentive to earn PNC grants, for those centers, through their volunteer efforts.
- Timing matters. If a child doesn’t have the opportunity to experience high quality early learning, they enter kindergarten significantly behind others, and they have difficulty ever catching up. It's the kind of start that sets a child up for years of remediation. Even worse, some children are currently “warehoused” in poor quality conditions with minimal supervision and no focus on helping them develop their social, emotional and mental skills. These are skills they need their entire life.
- Lack of quality costs more. A child’s brain grows to roughly 85 percent of its full capacity in the first 5 years of life. For a child to be successful in school, graduate, and progress to become a productive member of a skilled workforce (which we need), we must invest early. This will raise lifetime wages (and tax revenues), while reducing the likelihood children will drop out of school, engage in crime, and become a burden to society. The cost of high quality early learning is more than justified.
- It is the right thing to do. Business leaders throughout the state and across our country are focused on closing our nation’s “education deficit,” starting with early childhood education. It works. Timing matters. There is both a big price tag and a societal cost of not acting. But most of all, I am advocating for investments in high quality early learning because it is the right thing to do for our children and for our state.
We honored Jeff Hagerman, president of the Hagerman Group, as Volunteer of the Year at the Indiana Association of United Ways recognition banquet March 7. Since 2008, Hagerman and his company have partnered with United Way of Central Indiana to improve the safety of more than 30 child care ministries in Central Indiana as part of our education priority. The company donated more than $165,000 in construction fees and leveraged another $83,000 in in-kind donations from contractors so United Way could serve more children than would have otherwise been possible. Jeff also volunteered on the campaign cabinet to encourage other companies in the construction, architecture, engineering and real estate industries to participate in the campaign, resulting in more than $2 million of contributions.
--Mary L. Kinney, Public/media relations director
How much do you know about poverty?
There are lots of statistics, such as:
- The State of Indiana distributed $122,539,077 in Food Stamps (SNAP) benefits in October 2012.
- The average amount given to Indiana Food Stamp recipients is $136.42 per month.
- In January 2012, there were 1,647 homeless individuals in Marion County, Indiana.
- The federal poverty level for a family of four with two children was $23,050 in 2012.
But what does that really mean? What does living in poverty translate to in terms of life experience?
Recently, I had the chance to join several United Way Tocqueville Society and Women United members at a poverty simulation exercise. We learned a bit about what it’s like to live in poverty in Central Indiana. Each of us was part of a low-income family trying to survive month to month.
We learned how confusing and challenging it can be to survive in poverty.
- When resources are limited, how do you pay for the basic needs in life? What skills do you have that are marketable? Even with skills, it can be difficult to get a job at a wage that will cover your family’s basic needs. As a result, some of us had to sell personal possessions to provide for the family - the camera, the TV, the stereo – all were up for grab. Others found alternative money making “opportunities” that were under the table or just downright illegal.
- When resources are limited, how do you take care of family members? Who will take care of the senior citizen or the child who can’t take care of themselves? What do you do when a family member is sick and you have to choose between taking care of the family member or your job? What do you do if your child is suspended from school and shouldn’t be home alone? But, you might lose your job if you stay home with them. Families in the simulation took their elderly family member with them everywhere, asked neighbors to help, or had children taking care of children. They tried to solve the problem, but it certainly was not the ideal scenario.
- When resources are limited, can you keep a roof over your head? What do you do if there is no money left over to pay the rent? Or worse, what if you’ve paid the rent, but you don’t have a receipt to prove it? Someone living in poverty may not have a checking account and thus would need to pay cash for rent and utilities. In the simulation, a gal paid her rent, but forgot to get the receipt. Then when she had to prove she had paid it, she couldn’t. Her family was evicted as a result.
- When resources are limited, how do you provide food for your family? In the simulation, we didn’t eat for three weeks. There were so many other things to focus on that we actually forgot about food. I don’t think that would happen in the real world, but it did reinforce the importance of the United Way programs that provide students with meals each day.
It’s really hard to live on the edge of homelessness. The simulation reinforced what a blessing it can be for those living in poverty to have others come alongside to help them survive and work towards self-sufficiency. Thank you to all of the United Way agencies in Central Indiana that help to address the needs of our community!
Special thanks to the Jewish Community Center for hosting the event and to the Julian Center team for facilitating!
--Kitty Radcliff, Women United Steering Committee
Editor's note: United Way's Emerging Leaders had the pleasure of hearing from Angela Braly at their bi-monthly professional development lunch. Read on for Katie Hammer's recap of the event and summary of Angela's presentation.
Know who you are
This theory is simple. You have to know who you are, or everyone else will have the opportunity to tell you who you should be. For Angela, knowing who she is is reflected in three simple principles: First, do the right thing. Second, always do it for the customer. Finally, do it right the first time. Angela believes that these principles are of the utmost importance. The path that you should choose, the decisions to make, might not always be clear. However, if you know that you are acting in an effort to do the right thing, you can rest assured that you will end up at the right outcome.
Take the biggest risk that you can. Oftentimes, we stay in a seemingly secure spot, thinking that we are on the right track, knowing that we are comfortable. The reality is that you might be missing out on a great opportunity by playing it safe. Angela suggests that you find the biggest, messiest risk you can and go for it. For women, she talked about the “double bind” – how do you combat the perception that women are less likely to take risks? Angela says start small, put yourself out there a little more than you are comfortable doing. Push yourself to take small, calculated risks until you are ready to make the leap on a larger one.
For Angela, working as a waitress turned out to be a life-changing lesson. That job taught her what serving really meant and led her to hold service of others as a top priority as she progressed through her career. Her advice? Flip the pyramid. Serve those who work with you and for you. Make sure you are serving your boss and your customers. Providing those around you with what they need (skills, training and information) to serve others will ensure everyone’s success. Specifically, Angela says that she always begins the week with the intent to serve. Starting the week in that mindset ensures that she does the best job possible.
Angela then went on to answer a few of our questions:
When do you know that the risk is one to take?
When you are faced with making a decision regarding a risky situation, take stock. Are you trying to talk yourself out of it because it makes you uncomfortable? Is it because of fear? If so, work backwards. Assume that the risk will be worth it and make note of possible outcomes. Look honestly at any negatives. Then go with your gut.
For women, specifically, how do you balance being modest with being confident and talking up your skills?
Be aware of the “double bind.” Formerly called the glass ceiling, the double bind refers to the constant balance that women must keep. You can’t be too aggressive; you can’t be too modest. It’s a constant battle. Angela suggests that it’s not always about the large battles, but often about facing and effectively handling small challenges along the way. Women, be aware that you have a narrower walk to take, but always be yourself. Don’t worry too much about being too aggressive, too shy – just be genuine. Be who you are, be secure in your skills and go forward confident. When you are yourself, while remaining aware of bias, of any issues, you will enjoy your job and your career more.
How do you balance work and family?
It helps to have a great partner and, ultimately, you have to make choices. Acknowledge that there is no way to balance everything that you’ll want to do. Realize that every choice will have a consequence. Most importantly, make a commitment to “be here now.” When you are at work, be totally at work. When you are home, be totally at home. Everything is a trade-off, and everyone has
to find the balance that is best for them.
Have you had a mentor who has helped you in your career?
Yes! Having a mentor is crucial to learning new career lessons, getting advice and moving yourself forward. Angela credits her mentor with showing her how important philanthropy can be to your career and what you are remembered for. She encourages young professionals to think outside the box when it comes to finding a mentor. There won’t be one magical mentor in your life, and the most impactful relationships may not be with a person who is a formal mentor. Take the initiative to staff your own mentor team. Pick people whom you admire, even if you just admire them for their philanthropic service or the way they interact with their family. Realize that sponsors within your organization can also be very helpful. Bottom line, look around you for people with skills you want to strengthen and reach out. Odds are, they would love to help.
Want to check out our next Professional Advancement Series Session? Click here.
--Katie Hammer, senior manager, donor relations, United Way of Central Indiana