With mortgage foreclosure rates higher in the Indianapolis area than the national average, it's no surprise to learn that among our neighbors, many are struggling to save their homes.
That's what happened to Deborah Patton, 58, when she temporarily lost her job last year and missed several mortgage payments.
Though Deborah tried to work with her mortgage lender , the process was getting her nowhere. With a foreclosure lawsuit in hand, Deborah came to the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, a United Way agency, for help. The agency employs housing counselors who are trained to help people work through such difficulties to prevent foreclosure.
The greatest fear of homeowners in the midst of this process is not knowing what to expect next and not having anyone to turn to for help.
Housing counselor Angie Simmons met with Deborah to educate her about how to obtain a loan modification from her lender and also explained her right to a Settlement Conference, a court-ordered mediation to attempt to prevent foreclosure.
I'm a housing attorney, and I represented Deborah at two such settlement conferences, helping her review a loan modification offer, advising her along the way and ultimately preventing foreclosure on her home.
Thanks to your gifts to United Way, Deborah and others like her are receiving the education and empowerment they need to save their homes.
--Brian Dunkel, staff attorney, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic
Since 2004, UWCI has invested over $912,000 supporting Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic’s efforts to provide legal representation and preventive law education to low-income families. The agency handles cases including immigration, consumer, discrimination, SSI/SSD, bankruptcy, tax controversies, child support, housing/foreclosure and other civil issues. United Way’s funding includes a 242,360 Capital Projects Fund grant for facility renovation and $25,000 from the Technology Fund for telephone system upgrades and the purchase of computer hardware and software. (These monies are contributed specifically for such needs and do not come from the annual campaign.) The agency’s current year Community Fund allocation is $76,914.
When our 9-month-old grandson, Max, arrived at our house Thanksgiving eve, he was toying with the skill of waving. Max had most of the elements of the hand greeting and farewell down. But it was backwards.
Baby palms were pointed toward the waver and not the wavee. Still, we all knew what he meant. When you’ve experienced so many back-to-back days of crying, grinning and giggling as the sole communications techniques, it’s tempting to settle for “close enough” when it comes to adding a new non verbal to the repertoire.
But our Max appears to be a perfectionist. He seemed to judge the pseudo baby wave as not up to standards. So quietly, methodically and persistently, he prepared to perfect the wave.
Over the next two days, I’d notice him at random moments examining his moving fingers lowered down by his waist in a spot where he likely assumed his training session would go undetected. Slowly, he’d curl and then uncurl his fingers, intently studying the action and reaction like a Nobel prize-winning scientist in his laboratory.
Then one day -- at a somewhat anticlimactic moment -- he wowed us all by waving with the palm in the proper position. Two generations of waving coaches clapped and cooed as Max matter-of-factly added the finishing touches to his newest social skill.
Because learning is such a hot button in our community, I can’t help but think that far too often, such mini milestones go uncelebrated as some children grow.
Soon, Max will be speaking, then learning to read, and then reading to learn.
I’ve come to think of the moment in which Max transformed a near wave into a real wave as a symbol of the kind of learning environment that all children deserve, but many do not get.
Max learned the wave – as he will learn each of the hundreds of skills he needs before he ever steps into a classroom -- by seeing it patiently modeled by adults who love him. He learned it with practice. He learned it by having it on the lesson plan consistently. And he learned it because he was healthy, well nourished and safe.
Max’s milestones remind me of how sound United Way’s priorities are. We know that kids and families must first have their basic needs met before they are able to thrive. And we also know that children must have caring adults to guide them from the moment they are born, because they are born learners.
These are simple, yet profound reasons why I’m proud of Max, and why I’m proud that our United Way invests in the milestones that thousands more Central Indiana children achieve. What makes you proud of our community? Let us know!
-- Mary Kinney, Public/media relations manager, United Way
Editor's note: In October, United Way's Emerging Leaders had the pleasure of hearing from Don Knebel at their quarterly Leadership Lunch. Read on for Katie Hammer's recap of the lunch and summary of Don's presentation.
All I have to say about the October Leadership Lunch is that we are a lucky, lucky group. Don Knebel, partner at Barnes and Thornburg and the current UWCI campaign chair, gave some amazing insight and really inspired us to take on the challenges that we face. Don's "5 Ls of Leadership" included tips from General Norman Schwarzkopf, reasons why every leader is like a trial lawyer, and one of his favorite quotes: “Success is never final and failure is never fatal. It is your courage through both that counts.” Now...that’s something to think about!
Going into the October Leadership Lunch, we knew that we were in for an amazing presentation. Don is, by nature, an incredibly engaging and dynamic speaker. We got what we came for and more. For those who aren’t aware of Don’s background, he’s a partner with Barnes and Thornburg…impressive on it’s own, right? He has also been recognized as “the best in Indiana for patent litigation” by Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business publication and a Mondaq survey identified him as one of the most recommended patent law lawyers in the world. Yup, he’s awesome!
With all that in mind, we settled in for some great tips…
Don Knebel's 5 Ls of Leadership
Learn as much as you can about the issue
According to Don (and he would know), the best trial lawyer has all of the facts, good and bad. He states that you have to know as much as possible about the issue, especially the problems that you might run up against. By being prepared for the challenges, you are in the best position possible to lead.
Listen to those you are supposed to lead
It’s impossible to develop a winning strategy without listening to those that you are leading! When Don is preparing for a big case, he holds a mock trial and asks that other lawyers give him feedback on his case. Similarly, when he was setting his plan for this year’s United Way campaign he consulted with staff, community leaders and other United Way volunteers. Be sure to listen to others who have skin in the game. As Don says, “Being a leader is not being a poll taker, but those being led should have a say.”
Level with everyone about the difficulties
One of the most difficult things a leader deals with is how to handle the challenges they come up against. Often times, a leader is dealing with those challenges while also trying to manage the impact on others. Don suggests that a good leader levels with those they are leading…explain the difficulties and the possible outcomes. When you are honest and let people know how tough things might be, they are more willing to support you and stick with you through the struggles. You’ll come out on the other side with a stronger team and you’ll be a more respected leader in the long run.
Lean in the direction you believe is right
When trying to lead a group to consensus, it’s tough to know how hard nosed to be…do you lay out your opinions on the front end or wait it out and see what others think? Such a dilemma! Next time, try “leaning in”….give your group a sense of where you would like to end up and see how they react. By leaning in the direction that you think is right from the beginning, you make your opinion known and allow others to feel comfortable contributing theirs. In the end, you will hopefully end up with the consensus you were looking for!
Leap forward and never look back
Straight from the lawyer’s mouth…"Make each moment your closing argument!" In other words, don’t hold back. You must be prepared to always give everything your all. As young professionals we are all so busy…it’s easy to let your life take control of you. Slow down, take the reins and assess. By making sure that you are prepared for the next steps before they come along, you can jump in, make good decisions quickly and you won’t have regrets.
Obviously, the October Leadership Lunch was a success! If you weren’t able to join us, we missed you and can’t wait to have you at the next lunch in February. Keep an eye on our events page and make sure to register, or learn more about the Emerging Leaders program here. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with Don’s secret sixth L….Luck!
--Katie Hammer, Senior Manager of Donor Relations and
Emerging Leaders Program Manager, United Way
Everyone involved in the Cold Feet, Warm Shoes program was surprised on Tuesday. Joyce Kilmer Elementary School 69 Principal, Sue Fries, didn’t tell her students that their school had been selected by United Way of Central Indiana to receive brand new hats, gloves, socks and shoes for each student. She wanted it to be a surprise.
Volunteers from LIDS, its parent company, Genesco, and the Indianapolis Colts (including linebacker Gary Brackett) were excited to find out that the students had no idea what to expect. The biggest surprise of all came to the nearly 400 students who were greeted by Colts players and personally fitted for new shoes just in time for winter. More photos
--Jessie Smith and Kelsey Dumoulin, United Way of Central Indiana
Let’s face it: Some days, it’s hard to focus on how fortunate you are. You know what I mean. You have days when you wake up a little late and extremely reluctantly, when the kids lose something they can’t go to school without, when you spill your coffee on your new white shirt and get a flat tire on the way to work. But the important things about those days are that your kids are healthy, you have a job and a car, and you could afford both coffee and a shirt. You were healthy enough to get out of bed, and you had a warm bed to sleep in and a hot shower to drag yourself to.
The holiday season is a time that can be a real hassle. Figuring out what to buy for whom, scheduling get-togethers with family and friends, making food, buying, wrapping, buying, delivering, buying, eating, buying…sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming. That’s why working with the United Christmas Service each year can really help you keep your perspective. It’s important to remember not everyone is fortunate enough to have such “hassles.”
I am fortunate enough to coordinate CNO Financial Group’s work with UCS every year. We adopt 40 families, and recruit 40 associates to serve as “team captains.” Each team is assigned a family and the company provides money for gifts for each family member. In addition, many teams raise additional funds for their families on their own so they can do a little bit more. The company also places a bulk grocery order with Costco, which we then split into 40 equal portions. The result is that each family is getting about ten file-size boxes of non-perishable food, laundry detergent, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.
Even that generosity doesn’t tell the whole story. Team captains work with the families and the social workers to try to take care of whatever needs the families have. One story that really stuck with me was that of a family whose apartment was infested with bed bugs. Our team captain worked with the Department of Health to have the pest problem eradicated. It didn’t cost any money, it was just a matter of taking the time to listen to mother of the family and connect the right resources to the problem.
This is the 11th year for CNO’s program with UCS. So many families in need go without help every year because there is no one to “adopt” them. I hope other companies will see that this program gives so much more to our company than we give to the families. Our associates really love doing this, it raises their spirits and reminds them not only how fortunate they are in their own lives to be in a position to give back, but also how fortunate they are to work for a company that is also willing to give back to the community that has supported it. It’s also a nice piece to support our United Way campaign. I think our associates are encouraged by the fact that we support United Way agencies all year long, not just during our two-week fundraising campaign. I hope other companies will join us in supporting the United Christmas Service this year. Together, every family in Central Indiana could be fortunate this holiday season.
--Media Oakes, CNO Financial Group