On Friday, August 30, 2013, United Way of Central Indiana launched our new website. One of the many goals with the new site was to house all blog posting and news items on the same site.
You can now find all this information at uwci.org/news. We hope you enjoy the new design and the ease of navigation with the new site.
Thanks for your support of United Way of Central Indiana.
Alan Witchey, United Way Volunteer Center Director, visited the WISH-TV studios this morning to discuss the ReadUP program. United Way needs more than 1,000 volunteers by Oct. 1 to help more Central Indiana students succeed in school and life.
ReadUP students usually start one or two years behind their grade level. But with the help and consistency of caring adults, 68 percent of those struggling readers will end the year reading at grade level. Special thanks to Indy-Style for having us stop by.
Reason #1: It's important for me to give back.
OK, OK - - to whom much is given, much is expected. Whether this is part of your belief system related to your faith, or if you were raised to believe this from your core, or whether you are a true altruist and in that spirit of selflessness you feel a moral obligation, these kids need us! We're articulate, educated, caring and thoughtful people. Why not share this spirit and help struggling readers improve their skills? The payoff is tremendous. No, it's more than tremendous...it's life-changing for the child you work with, and always, always for yourself!
Reason #2: Do you need instant gratification ALL the time?
We all know that many things in life are a marathon not a sprint. And much of our lives center around instant gratification, in knowing right now where our family, children, friends are, what they are doing, what they are consuming (really, three trips to the coffee shop in one day?), their "likes" and dislikes, who we should "friend" or "network'"with and, above all, why we justify these activities in our lives. For once, wouldn't it be nice to disconnect/unplug/check-out and just talk to a child, to a child that needs help with reading, to listen to that child read, to read to that child? The beauty of this is the simplicity of the interaction.
Reason #3: These kids need consistency.
The challenges some of these children face are often more than many of us have to face in a lifetime, let alone in the few short years they've been growing and learning. A caring adult can do wonders by spending quality time with a child, listening, prodding, teaching, cajoling, encouraging the child to love reading, to learn to explore the world with open eyes and an open heart. Showing up week after week to demonstrate to children our commitment sends an important message in itself. Showing up week after week to spend time with your pupil sends an individual message that translates to the child as "I care about you." Nothing gets better than that!
Reason #4: Schools need us.
The community needs to rally around our school children. ReadUP is one small way we can spend time in schools, see for ourselves the caring and dedicated professionals who work with these students daily, and see the challenges the staff and students face. How do we weigh in as voters, as parents and as citizens in this community if we don't truly understand the conditions in our schools?
Reason #5: I like to read and I hope my enthusiasm for it is contagious.
The joke in my house is "Mom, the house is on fire...," NOT followed by a call to 911! It's just that I can transport myself to other places and times, whether it's the newspaper, a magazine or a book in which I'm engrossed. Reading was always highly regarded in my family, as was education. If you have a similar feeling about reading, wouldn't it be nice to share that zeal with a young student?
-- Barbara Tully
Editor's Note: Barbara Tully, an employee of Fifth Third Bank, has been a United Way ReadUP volunteer from the program's beginning in 2007.
What is 2-1-1? Where is it? What can they do for me?
Connect2Help 2-1-1 is your local connection to our community’s faith-based, social or government services. Unless you need an ambulance or fire truck (those are 9-1-1 calls) we’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to direct you to the agency or service that can help.
Have a brother-in-law who is out of work and needs to create a resume? We know who can help!
Does your neighbor need to put food on the table, but is short on cash? We can help!
Is your aunt cleaning out the house and wanting to donate all that stuff? We know who you should call!
Last year 2-1-1 specialists helped more than one quarter of a million callers find food, health care, child care, shelter, a chance to volunteer and more. We can help you!
Just dial 2-1-1. You can call any time from anywhere in Indiana. When you call we’ll ask your zip code because we want to find you the services closest to your home. We’ll also ask general questions about your age and ethnicity. Our services are free, but our funders want to be sure we’re reaching the entire community, and your answers help us capture that information.
If you prefer to look up resources on your own , just visit www.connect2help.org and click on "Search Our Online Resource Database," or click on "Download Free Rainbow Books" for a directory of resources available to you. All this information is free, but it is priceless to the person who doesn’t know where to turn.
Give us a call. Tell a friend. We’re here to help!
-- Shari Morgan, director of operations, Connect2Help's 2-1-1 service
Editor's Note: Since Connect2Help became an independent agency in 1987,* UWCI has invested more than $14 million to link people to human services. This includes grants totaling $864,000 for facility, technology and other targeted needs from funds contributed specifically for these purposes. Also included is $290,000 earmarked for implementation of 2-1-1 in Central Indiana. United Way provided an additional $555,000 to Indiana 211 Partnership, Inc. as a partner in developing and implementing 2-1-1 coverage for all Indiana counties. The agency’s 2013/2014 Community Fund allocation is $684,413.
*For more than 40 years, Information and Referral Network, as it was formerly known, was a program of United Way of Central Indiana.
My name is Gabriel Terrell Bacon and I’ve been asked to describe how I will apply United Way's Youth Leadership United (YLU) training in my life. I learned so many things that, I’ve condensed them into three categories: leadership, responsibility and service.
Newlink.com defines leadership as: “A process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.” That’s exactly how YLU displayed leadership.
From our wonderful instructors to the young adults around me, everyone was a leader. If something needed to be done, Annie and Alan (United Way leaders) never had to beg for help. Often, more than one person would offer to help. YLU has given me the leadership experience I need to be effective and efficient in my new role on United Way's Hendricks County Youth As Resources Board.
My next word is responsibility: a duty or obligation to perform or complete a specific task or job. YLU taught me responsibility by giving me tasks to step out of the box, asking me to do things I never thought of or had tried before.
For example, our service project for the Boys and Girls Club gave me the opportunity to show how responsible I could be. With my YLU group, I was responsible for more than 50 children ages 5 to 12. It was our responsibility to make sure the kids were having fun, but also to make sure they were safe. From 8 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Saturday, our group supervised those children. If that doesn’t teach you responsibility, I don’t know what will!
My last and final word is service: giving of your time, talent and treasures to help someone in need. YLU taught this in so many ways, from helping with the event at the Boys and Girls Club to the very training itself: allowing adults and young adults to come in and learn how to become an effective leader through service.
I loved the entire program and am so grateful it is putting me on a leadership path. The experience reminds me of Margaret Mead's words: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Thank you!
-- Gabriel Bacon, 2013 graduate of Youth Leadership United, is an incoming junior at Avon High School in Hendricks County. He is now serving on the county's Youth as Resources Board and has a longer term goal of serving on the county's United Way Advisory Board.
Editor's note: Each year, United Way's Youth Leadership United selects and trains 25 high school students from Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties. The training prepares them to understand the nonprofit system and volunteer on nonprofit boards and committees. This LIVE UNITED blogger is a recent graduate from Hendricks County.
“Are you saying this wasn’t required before?”
That is often the response I get when I tell people about new common-sense child-care requirements that take effect July 1. People are shocked to learn that those who often spend more than 50 hours each week with children haven’t been required to pass a criminal background check or be at least 18 years old. They are shocked that only 25 percent of low-income children supported by government subsidies attend a high-quality program.
We are thankful that beginning July 1, our community will have access to safer child care because of legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence. Four important early education initiatives were enacted this session:
• New common-sense health and safety standards will be required for child-care providers that accept taxpayer-funded Child Care Development Fund vouchers. They include keeping medicines out of reach, requiring supervisors be at least 18 years old and safe sleeping practices for infants.
• To keep children safe, national criminal background checks will be required for all child-care employees and volunteers. Background checks have identified individuals with violent or child-abusing criminal histories seeking to work in child care.
• An early education evaluation program and early education advisory committee will be created. The evaluation will help document the differences in school readiness of children in high-quality programs versus those in lower-rated or no programs.
• Funding for a pre-kindergarten matching grant program ($2 million a year) for developing high-quality early education programs.
We commend the General Assembly and Gov. Pence for supporting efforts to improve quality care for children. United Way of Central Indiana highlighted this issue through its Kids Need Quality public awareness campaign launched in January.
These first steps are important, but more changes are needed. Important elements of the legislation were removed through the amendment process — including fire codes, child-staff ratios and class size limitations that mirror licensing requirements, and staff training in child development. Research shows that child-staff ratios and the quality of the teacher are critical to quality. Our state tax and philanthropic dollars should be limited to safe, high-quality programs.
At United Way, we know education is the best path out of poverty and we have committed $12 million over the next 10 years for early learning strategies that will dramatically increase both the supply of and demand for high-quality child care. More than 4,000 children are already benefiting. Kids do need quality. Let’s keep applying our collective common sense to ensure that we don’t fail them!
-- Ann D. Murtlow, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana
Your gifts, Anthony’s story: he’s college-bound, thanks in part to leadership lessons from Jameson Camp
Anthony is 17 years old and lives with his great grandmother in a modest but neat home in a neighborhood that could be considered a bit rough. Like many of our campers , his childhood has not been easy.
He first came to Jameson Camp at the age of 13 for a traditional summer session. After his first summer, Anthony applied to be part of our year-round Youth Leadership program. This bright, thoughtful, and artistic young man is now a Counselor in Training (CIT), the top level of our Youth Leadership program.
The Youth Leadership program has positively impacted Anthony’s academic future. “My grades have improved since coming to Jameson Camp because I’ve been really focused on how my life is going and where I’m trying to get to in my life. This is due to the Jameson staff. I talk with them about my plans and how things are going over time.” He is now a senior in high school and plans to attend college next fall.
When he first came to camp, Anthony struggled with social skills and lacked self confidence. “I didn’t like socializing with people. I didn’t know how to express feelings really well or know how to tell anyone what was going on in my life.”
Today, he is considered one our strongest and most dedicated Youth Leaders. He attends every event, volunteers to help at every opportunity, and does a great job in engaging younger campers.
Anthony sees how he has grown as a person and a leader. “I’ve learned to interact with people, learned what social cues are, and how people are feeling. I’ve learned how to help people feel better when they’re not feeling too well. Camp has also helped me be more understanding towards other people’s emotions...”
We celebrate the emerging leader Anthony has become and look forward to his future accomplishments.
-- Cassandra Tice, Jameson Camp
Editor's Note: Since 1993, United Way has invested more than $4 million in support of Jameson Camp’s year-round and summer camping programs for at-risk youth. This includes $2.6 million for capital projects, facilities maintenance, technology and other targeted needs from funds contributed specifically for these purposes. The agency’s Community Fund allocation for the 2013/2014 funding year is $51,111.
Jameson Camp is one of 21 United Way agencies with a significant focus on positive youth development. UWCI’s total allocations to those agencies is just over $4 million for the 2013/2014 funding year.
Remember getting ready for a new school year? Perhaps your parents took you shopping for new shoes, a couple of outfits, and of course, new school supplies.
Choosing the color of your folders, pencil box and backpack was a big deal. It was important to fit in with what your friends would bring to school.
BackPack Attack in Hancock County makes this experience possible for many children. The project, coordinated by the Hancock office of United Way of Central Indiana, collects and distributes school supplies to each of the public elementary, middle, intermediate, and junior high schools throughout the county.
Beginning in June, publicity about the program begins. The Greenfield Daily Reporter publishes a story and information is sent out to churches and business partners county wide. Some groups do a simple collection, while others pair it with corporate events. It is amazing to see the 40,000-plus supplies that are donated through these efforts.
On the last day of collections, a "Stuff the Bus" event is held at the local Wal-Mart store. Greenfield-Central Community Schools parks a bus at the store. Volunteers hand shoppers a list of requested school supplies, and ask them to purchase anything they might be able to for the cause. Some shoppers walk out with 1-2 items, while others walk out with bags full. What a great opportunity for parents to model and instill a giving attitude in their children.
The next day, volunteers of all ages spend the day at a school sorting and boxing the supplies for distribution. Imagine a gymnasium filled with school supplies. Crayons on one table, pencils boxes on another, backpacks on another …and the list goes on. Almost every item that a student will need for school is in that room, waiting to be boxed and sent to the schools.
The following day, supplies are delivered to 17 county schools within four school corporations. There, the magic continues. Schools are then able to make these supplies available to students from lower-income families at registration time, and throughout the year as replacements are needed or as new students enter the school.
Volunteers make things happen. Individuals can contribute at any step of the program and help make a difference. You can donate supplies, man the bus, or sort and deliver the donated supplies.
I am fortunate to see this program from two different viewpoints. First, as a volunteer, I work with others in our community to make a difference in the education of our children. School supplies are needed to experience school success, and that is what we are giving to our children.
As a school social worker, I am also able to see the smiles on the children's faces, as well as the relief on the faces of their parents, as they choose their school supplies free of charge. Their appreciation is evident. It is rewarding to be part of a program that makes such a difference in the lives of others.
-- Terry Miller
Editor's note: Since 1999, Indy BackPack Attack has collected more than 3.5 million school supplies for children who need them. Check out opportunities to help with school supply drives in Marion and other United Way counties online.
Thanks to all those that joined United Way of Central Indiana last Thursday to add your voice to hundreds of other Central Indiana reading champions! Whether you were part of the chorus in Fishers, Indianapolis, Lebanon or Martinsville, you helped generate awareness for the way that reading, tutoring and mentoring is helping more children succeed in school and in life.
Check out the fun event pictures from each location and watch a quick video recap of the Indianapolis event below. If you're inspired now to take that next step and volunteer as a reader, mentor or tutor -- or know someone else who'd be great -- it's as simple as visiting ReadTutorMentor.org, or calling 317.925.READ. It can take you places!
In 2011, Taft partnered with United Way to adopt Ralph Waldo Emerson School IPS 58. Our firm and employees have been supporting IPS 58, both financially and with time and talent. The funds help support a full-time community community/school coordinator, a part-time parent liaison/after-school assistant, funding for additional after-school programs, transportation home from those programs and more. Here are my top 10 reasons why Taft adopted IPS 58 through United Way:
- We wanted to partner with an organization where we can truly make a difference.
- Taft’s after school program gives students a meaningful, engaging and productive program in the afternoon after school, keeping the kids out of trouble and giving them constructive programs for improvement.
- We wanted to build a model that could be used for other corporate partnerships in our community.
- By partnering with United Way, we were able to gain matching dollars for our initial campaign. In addition, with United Way’s help and resources, we were able to create unique programs for students, including a law exploratory and career program for 6th graders.
- The program created an intangible, meaningful human connection for our employees – one that means far more than money.
- We wanted an initiative that supports several of our goals and fundamental tenets as a firm, including an ever-increasing awareness of and commitment to enhanced diversity, community involvement, quality and equal opportunities in education and corporate citizenship.
- We believe that helping address some of the difficult issues in our inner-city elementary schools today will better impact our community and workplace in the future by providing better educational opportunities to help students build a strong foundation in their formative years.
- The program gives our employees the opportunity to make a difference in the world outside of work. We encourage Taft attorneys and staff to give back and volunteer in the community during the work day.
- We wanted a program that would help extend the firm’s spirit of collegiality and other important elements of Taft’s culture to accomplish something meaningful in our community.
- We believe that an organization who gives itself to a worthy cause gets back exponential amounts in so many tangible ways. This program has now become an important part of our fabric and culture.
-- Kelly M. Sharpe, business development director, Indianapolis, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
Editor's Note: Taft’s partnership has three goals: create an enriching and safe environment for all students; increase academic achievement; and, increase community, parent and school relationships and involvement. In addition to the tutoring and recognition programs pictured, the partnership has resulted in 13 afterschool programs, with athletics, arts and academic emphases and involved almost half of the school’s students. In addition, numerous home visits have been made, parent workshops have been conducted, and community partners have been engaged in student learning experiences. The newest Taft project is a 6-week law exploratory career program for 6th graders.