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.
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.
Your gifts, Warren's story: United Way's income, health investments put young father and daughter on path to sounder future
"They modeled me into someone I had in me. I just didn't know how to bring it out."
That's how 20 something Warren Hawkins summed up the payoff of graduating from the Fatherhood Development Workshop, offered by Fathers and Families Center, a United Way agency. Their programs help young, low-income and expectant fathers become responsible and involved parents, wage earners and providers of support to their children.
Warren came to the center after learning that his girlfriend was pregnant. He was struggling to find a job due to past criminal convictions.
With the help of a job recruiter at Fathers and Families, Warren soon found a good job where he now provides second chances to others who struggle. He is in a position to help other young fathers, and has hired about 10 of the other Fathers and Families grads to help them provide for their families.
You can meet this impressive young man and his toddler daughter Lauryn, in this story produced by WXIN FOX 59. The scene of him helping his little girl brush her teeth to get ready for the day is one of those small, every day moments that spoke to me, showing more powerfully than any words, what this investment makes happen.
Anyone who contributes to United Way is a part of Warren's success. Last year, thanks to United Way givers, more than 13,400 people in Central Indiana received job readiness or job search assistance as part of United Way’s income focus, like Warren. And, more than 9,600 people participated in parenting education programs as part of United Way's health focus, also like Warren.
Since 2003, UWCI has invested more than $1.5 million in support of Fathers and Families Center’s efforts to improve the life chances of children by helping young fathers achieve self-sufficiency and become responsible, involved parents. This includes grants totaling $218,297 from United Way’s Capital Projects, Facilities Maintenance and Technology Funds. (These funds are contributed specifically for such needs.) The Center’s current Community Fund allocation is $125,804.
--Mary L. Kinney, Public/media relations director
Editor's note: Experts agree that if we're serious about improving educational outcomes for children, we must start in the critical early years of a child's brain development. It's also a reality that kids from low-income families typically start school 1-2 years behind their peers, and many never catch up. Most often, these kids spend their days in programs that offer no educational opportunities, let alone meet basic safety and health standards.
As part of United Way's long-term plan to turn that around, we are working with child care ministries like Charity Child Care in Haughville, one of the most impoverished Indianapolis neighborhoods.
In December, Charity became the first child care ministry in the state to reach the highest level of achievement on Indiana’s Paths to QUALITY rating scale. United Way was among community partners who helped, investing a modest amount, about $10,000, for extraordinary returns, as Director Juaneka "Nikki" Ennis describes.
In October 2008, Charity Child Care had reached its peak enrollment of 200 children in its then 13- year history. Great things were happening! Children were being cared for in a loving manner and in a clean and safe environment. We screened and trained our caregivers and teachers. Overall, families were satisfied.
Remember the old saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?” At Charity, we rejected that thinking, choosing to strive for an even higher quality of care because quite simply, our children deserve the best.
After researching Paths to Quality, a rating scale, we decided to pursue the highest level of quality. Everyone was on board to make the major changes needed.
First, we had to host an onsite, nine-month course though Ivy Tech State College so that 12 staff members could earn their Child Development Associate national accreditation We also needed to create an infant-toddler playground, improve the preschool and school age playgrounds; and purchase developmentally appropriate curriculum and play items to create learning interest centers in 12 classrooms.
These changes required teamwork from everyone - staff members, our governing church, and families. It also required help from the outside. United Way in particular was an invaluable partner providing an onsite mentor who helped with every aspect; and buying toys, books, furniture and computers along with funding professional development.
After four years, Charity eached the highest level of achievement on Indiana’s rating scale and accreditation by the National Association of Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) as a Level 4 Paths to Quality provider.
It has been an invaluable experience. And the results are abundant:
--children are cared for and taught in a high quality environment that is both challenging and age-appropriate;
--their specific needs are assessed and addressed;
--staff members receive ongoing education in early childhood;
--staff members earn a living wage that meets the needs of their own families;
--enrolled families have access to a wealth of resources;
--and, the holistic needs of all children served.
As the first and only registered child care ministry in Indiana to earn Level 4 status, Charity Child Care is proud of our collective accomplishment. Faith in God fueled us to pursue early childhood excellence. We hope to inspire other ministries to do the same.
For more on the story by Fox 59, click here.
--Juaneka "Nikki" Ennis, Charity Child Care program director
Have you kept track of how many times you've heard or seen the phrase "fiscal cliff" in the past month? Whenever I run across those words, I'm mentally substituting the word "human" in front of "cliff," thanks to an article by Tim Delaney I read in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
It's important to put a human face on the suffering of people if jobs and services they rely on were to suddenly disappear, Delaney wrote.
In my work at United Way, I'm fortunate to get to meet people who have been on the edge of some pretty steep personal cliffs, and hear their stories about the path down from crisis.
One young mother who stands out is Amanda. She represents an alarming spot on the poverty chart: single-headed households with children and no high school degree have the highest poverty rate at 51 percent.
You can hear Amanda talk about how the help she received through Hawthorne Community Center, a United Way funded agency on the west side, was integral to her path to financial stability for her and for her son.
Hawthorne is one of 45 United Way agencies that focus on helping people improve their education, training, employability and overall financial outlook thanks in part to United Way's income investments.
In less than a year, Amanda earned her GED, got help finding a full-time job, found affordable housing, and enrolled in Ivy Tech to pursue human resources.
Everyone who contributes to United Way helped Amanda down from her cliff, and thousands of others in Central Indiana too. Thank you!
--Mary L. Kinney, Public/media relations director
Editor's note: Indiana is one of 12 states with no public pre-k program, so child care is our early learning system. Child care is in high demand . But there are too few high-quality programs serving low-income families, and too few low-income families choose high-quality programs. To change that, both program and policy changes are needed. Bethany, a multi-cultural child care provider on the south side of Indianapolis, is one center in which United Way has invested as part of a 10-year plan to help improve quality. Here is what their director says about what those changes mean.
The many gifts from United Way have enabled us to recently advance to Level II in Paths To QUALITY, Indiana's measuring stick to help parents locate quality educational care. We believe that, regardless of their economic status, every family wants a safe, loving, education for their child beginning in infancy. We see our mission as lovingly assisting families through life’s journey – a journey that is often full of daily challenges.
Many children in our care live with grandparents, and many others are in the state's care. Several children have behavioral issues which must be addressed for them to succeed in school. We care for children who have one, and sometimes both parents, incarcerated. We have cared for babies born addicted to drugs. And, outside of normal business hours, our staff has temporarily cared for children when one parent was found to have a drug addiction.
United Way's partnership helped us make thousands of dollars of safety changes to our building that we could not otherwise afford. But the changes go far beyond the basics. United Way has also opened the door to partnerships with volunteers who, in late August, transformed an empty field into an outdoor learning center.
As a part of United Way's Day of Caring, more than 200 volunteers from Community Health Network descended upon our center for more than two days to create a community playscape. From the ground-up, volunteers built a hillside slide with a crawl through tunnel, a Noah’s Ark climbing structure for dramatic play, a bike path and a storage barn with a stage surrounding it to get their creative juices flowing through drama.
What a joy to see Breonna, who wouldn't leave her teacher's side, climb and pretend play on the Noah's Ark. It was a major breakthrough! The first day, it took 45 minutes to get Garret out of the tunnel when his Dad came to pick him up.
And there's more! Above ground planter boxes were built and will help teach our children the joy of gardening and connect to nature. This army of volunteers also designed and built a labyrinth and meditation path. We are so excited to have this wonderful space for our children and our community to use.
United Way's partnership is also good for our teaching staff because it provides funds to further their education. And when our staff is better at their job, the children and families benefit too!
We are proud of our many accomplishments in our quest to serve our community's children and families and humbled to receive so many wonderful gifts to help us provide the most important foundation of early learning. United Way's support is allowing us to extend a hand-up to families who truly need our help to provide a brighter future for tomorrow.
--Deborah Rohrman, director of Bethany Daycare & Preschool
When life or work brings challenges both large and small, all of us at Lilly know how important it is to have the support of good colleagues and friends to see us through.
For Steve and Becky Schenck, such assistance became incredibly important one morning in 2006, when Becky woke up unable to speak. Diagnosed with stage four brain cancer, Becky has been living with her illness ever since, beating the odds many times over with the benefit of excellent medical treatment and supportive family and friends. Grateful for — and inspired by — this outstanding care, Steve has dedicated himself to making a difference to others as co-chair of United Way of Central Indiana's 2012 annual campaign.
In sharing their story, Steve and Becky have a simple goal: to remind us that anyone can experience an unexpected challenge, and that no one should have to face such battles alone. By contributing to United Way, you can provide a lifeline of hope and help for those who might otherwise have nowhere else to turn.
Be sure to watch Steve and Becky's story, and thank you for LIVING UNITED.
John C. Lechleiter, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer
Eli Lilly and Company
Your gifts, Randall’s story: After the fire, Red Cross and you helped vulnerable senior with turnaround
Randall Lewis was watching television in his Speedway townhome on May 10, when he saw sparks fly. After helping his 87-year-old neighbor out of the building, Randall got out safely too. But he was unable to retrieve any of his possessions from the apartment fire – including up to nine kinds of medications he needed daily.
Randall remembers that firemen took him to a hotel where he spent the week, courtesy of the American Red Cross, a United Way agency. Next, thanks to a series of happy coincidences, Red Cross helped Randall meet his immediate needs including temporary shelter and basics such as food and clothing that night. Longer term, they also helped Randall – an already vulnerable senior with no family – reverse what could have been a downward spiral.
During the casework process, Red Cross Disaster Specialist Joyce Armour learned that Randall could not return to the complex. She also learned that he could not read, write or drive due to the effects of a recent stroke; and was relying on a caring neighbor for a wide range of assistance.
Once a floral designer, Randall was living on disability. He needed all his funds for rent, recent cataract surgery and other expenses. Not eating properly, Randall's health made living alone a poor choice.
Slowly, Joyce gained Randall's trust and contacted his primary care physician. When Joyce telephoned, she heard a familiar voice on the other end. It was Susan Grigsby, Red Cross disaster volunteer. Joyce quickly enlisted Susan’s help to reassure Randall that they had his best interests at heart. Together, they worked to secure him an apartment in an assisted living facility just a block away from his former home.
Six days after the fire, Randall was settled into his new home. Red Cross helped him purchase new bedding and linens, pay the first month’s rent and administrative fee, and replaced his medications and eyeglasses.
If Randall had been left on his own, his health could have quickly deteriorated. Instead, a caring caseworker joined a trusted health care worker and assisted living administrator to help literally turn things around for Randall.
Once isolated and not getting the nutrition he needed, Randall is now socializing with his fellow residents, eating three "good" meals a day and getting physical therapy so he will no longer shuffle when he walks. He's made friends, enjoys playing Bingo with other residents and feeding the birds.
Because you give to United Way, you're investing in turning Randall's life around too. Thank you!
--Ann A. Gregson, resource development manager, American Red Cross
Editor's note: Undesignated gifts to United Way of Central Indiana's annual campaign help ensure that people who experience disaster have the basic needs to recover, through programs and services offered by American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis. Since 1958, United Way has invested more than $83.6 million helping Red Cross. The funding includes grants of more than $2.9 million for capital, maintenance and technology improvements from funds contributed specifically for such needs. The agency’s 2012/2013 Community Fund allocation is $1,141,303
When you meet Mariah (age 9), she'll impress you as a confident, talkative and personable fourth-grader. But last school year, she was struggling with school work and not on track to be promoted.
Instead of focusing on finishing her homework after school, Mariah was a social butterfly. At the end of the first semester, teachers were calling her mom, and she took home report cards with failing reading and math grades.
After a conference with our staff, Mariah's mother insisted Mariah participate in homework help sessions, and she was enrolled in ReadUP, United Way's reading tutoring program. Our club was the only non-school site for ReadUP.
As a result of hard work in both programs, Mariah passed both ISTEP and IREAD tests and was promoted to fourth grade. A bright but unfocused student, Mariah matured and has made academics a priority.
I like that we make learning fun for kids like Mariah. Every area of the club has some kind of educational component. One thing I learned is that if I'm struggling to help a child, it's OK to step aside and ask someone else to help them. It takes a community.
More than 70 percent of our members improve their grades. One of the reasons it works is that we show the kids that we care about their success. We walk them to school and pick them up after school. On the way, we ask about how their spelling test went and we compliment them when things go well.
We are not educators, but we are part of a community that cares about these kids. Their teachers know us, and we have good two-way communications to keep the kids accountable. We collect their report cards and reward them for perfect attendance and for getting their work done. If an incentive doesn't work for one child, we come up with another system that does.
Mariah is an awesome example of how anyone who gives to United Way is helping kids learn and grow personally.
--Ashlee Thomas, education director, Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis, Lilly Unit
Editor's note: Undesignated gifts to United Way's annual campaign help ensure that children have opportunities and acquire skills to succeed in school and in life. United Way invests in education by funding agencies and programs that provide quality out of school programs and activities, volunteer reading, tutoring and mentoring and positive youth development. During the 2010/11 reporting year, more than 53,797 kids benefitted from before and after school care, thanks to United Way givers.
Since 1923, United Way of Central Indiana has invested more than $41.5 million helping Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. This includes grants totaling more than $2.2 million for capital, maintenance and technology improvements from funds contributed specifically for such needs. The agency’s 2012/2013 Community Fund allocation is $923,686.
Your gifts, Elmer and Carolyn’s story: PrimeLife helped them cope with sorrow, stress and transition
Elmer and Carolyn Olson have shared great joy and tragedy in their 59 year marriage. They danced, raised five wonderful children, were blessed by 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren — and lost one precious daughter.
Elmer and their daughter, Jenell, wrote a book together chronicling her unique breast cancer journey. Both Elmer, age 79, and Carolyn, age 78, are proud of the legacy Jenelle left for others, and speak with pride of her courage and determination to chart her own course.
Still healing from their loss, they are grateful that destiny brought them to Carmel where they can be close to their daughter, Julie, as she also experiences a serious illness. They count it a privilege to be able to help nurture and support Julie and her family at his difficult time.
Both Carolyn, a retired RN, and Elmer, a former elementary school principal, credit PrimeLife Enrichment with helping them to cope with their sorrow and stress —and enjoy their new life in Carmel.
A few years ago, their children bought them a condo in Carmel, hoping to coax their parents into moving from their home in Illinois. The children asked only that they spend six months a year in Carmel, which allowed Elmer and Carolyn the luxury of a gradual transition.
Still, the permanent move two years ago was jarring. Though happy to be near their loved ones — especially after Julie learned of her illness — they missed their old home. Opportunities to socialize with peers at PrimeLife Enrichment Center (PLE) have helped them make new friends and grow new roots.
Both exercise daily at PLE — participating in the Arthritis Land and Aquatics classes, using the walking track and visiting with new friends. Though they first resisted coming to PLE, they are so pleased that their daughter, Elaine, bought them a membership and said, "GO!"
Reluctantly, they did, and discovered that Elaine knew exactly what they needed. She understood that her parents, formerly devoted ballroom dancers, needed to be physically active and they needed to have fun!
Elmer has introduced the game, "Sequence" to PLE’s Men’s Activity Council, and is looking forward to a fishing trip with his new friends. Though physical impairments eliminated ball room dancing from their lives, PLE has replaced it with the less demanding Line Dancing. With a little help from friends and family, this loving couple has truly mastered the art of graceful aging.
Carolyn: "Exercising five days a week at PrimeLife has me moving and grooving again — and I’ve made new friends! We love our family dearly, but hadn’t realized how much we needed to be with people our own age."
Elmer: "I’ll never walk, or dance like I used to, but I’m able to enjoy line dancing, thanks to regular exercise in this well-equipped facility."
--Sandy Stewart, executive director, PrimeLife Enrichment
Editor's note: Undesignated gifts to United Way's annual campaign help ensure that people have the resources and supports for their health and well-being, including services for older adults. United Way now funds 22 agencies that provide center-based senior programming, either exclusively or as part of a broader scope of services. During the 2010/11 reporting year, more than 14,863 seniors participated in those center-based activities. United Way's total 2012/13 investment in all 22 agencies is $5.2 million.
Since 1981, UWCI has invested more than $4.8 million helping PrimeLife Enrichment, Inc.. This funding 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.