So how did 65 agency executives and staff end up walking in the 2011 St. Patrick's Day parade, chanting "Live United! Live, Live United"? Well, it started on a cold winter morning during an Agency Executive Council steering committee meeting where they were planning a program on "how to prevent director burnout" for their next meeting.
Carolyn Dederer, executive director of Day Nursery, joked about doing something fun after the March 17 meeting to help relieve the stress they all were feeling lately. The next we knew, Carolyn was leading a discussion on how the agencies could participate in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Edie Olsen of Families First and Anne-Marie Predovich Taylor of Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center quickly volunteered to help.
Organizing began. Decorations and candy to toss out to the crowd with a note about using 2-1-1 to get or give help were assembled. Email reminders were sent out reminding everyone to come. No one really knew who would show up or how many.
Carolyn Dederer was clearly a bit nervous. After all, this was her idea. What if no one showed? With the sun shining and a beautiful blue sky, 65 agency executives and staff had arrived by the time the parade started! The organizers, particularly Carolyn, were thrilled! The atmosphere became more festive as more agencies showed!
Crazy hats, green flags, boas, beads and a green wagon added to the fun. Soon, everyone was snapping pictures with their colleagues and meeting other agency staff.
For agency staff, the parade provided a couple of hours to completely remove themselves from the daily challenges, where they are often working with families facing the most difficult of circumstances. Regardless of age, background, agency affiliation, it was clear everyone was Irish for a day with new friendships established.
Along the parade route, our group began chanting "Live United! Live, Live United!" Spectators even joined in!
The day was an important reminder that our United Way agencies are comprised of real people with families, friends and unique talents who deeply care about the community and want to make it better. Despite the economic challenges facing our human service agencies lately, they remain the most optimistic and hopeful people in the country. How do I know this? They are already planning their participation in the parade next year!
See more pictures from the parade here.
--Christie Gillespie, director of agency services, United Way
Congratulations to Elizabeth Odle for receiving the 2011 Center for Leadership Development's (CLD) Achievement in Education award.
At CLD's 31st Minority Business and Professional Achievers Recognition Awards dinner, March 16 at the Sagamore Ballroom, Liz Odle received recognition for her dedicated and accomplished work in education as a principal with Indianapolis Public Schools and as a director of Bridges to Success with United Way of Central Indiana.
For 18 years, Liz served as the principal of IPS School 14, serving and loving her students and guiding the school to district-leading success. While there are many reasons for her school's success, one was her openness and ability to welcome the community and community providers into her school to help with her mission. She has continued this bridge building between schools and community in her work with United Way as the director of the Bridges to Success program.
Congratulations to Liz for her award of recognition and for a lifetime of being an example for us all!
--Jay Geshay, senior vice president, community planning and strategic initiatives, United Way of Central Indiana
Editor's note: In February, United Way's Emerging Leaders had the pleasure of hearing from Vince Caponi at their quarterly Leadership Lunch. Read on for Katie Hammer's recap of the lunch and summary of Vince's presentation.
We knew that our first leadership lunch of 2011 had to be a great one, so we pulled out the big guns and invited Vince Caponi to join us. Vince currently serves as the CEO for St. Vincent Health, a role that requires him to lead a network of 18 health ministries that serve 45 counties in Central Indiana. In addition, Vince serves as the Indiana/Wisconsin ministry market leader for Ascension Health. Needless to say, Vince is an expert in leading organizations and people. What a perfect person to impart some wisdom on our group!
Instead of just listing his tips for becoming a great leader, Vince framed his advice in a personal story. As a father of three daughters, Vince has mastered expecting the unexpected. That being said, nothing could have prepared him and his wife Robyn to deal with the serious illness that his oldest daughter contracted at age 17. Within days, his normally healthy daughter was admitted to the intensive care unit and was being treated for a condition called bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia, or BOOP.
Vince and Robyn's priorities shifted, and they were soon spending all of their time at the hospital. As they struggled to balance all of their responsibilities, they found that being involved in their community was a saving grace. Since the family had made a mark by volunteering in the community, they had numerous people ready and willing to help. Vince credits these people with helping his family get through an extremely difficult time. He believes that making service a priority is key to making your mark, both at work and in the community. By volunteering and serving the community, Vince and his family were able to build great relationships...and those relationships helped them get through the tough times.
Vince's moral? You never know what life will hand you, so take the time to help others. Volunteer and serve now – the relationships you build will be the ones that help you through your hard times. Vince's daughter recovered and currently has 80% use of her lungs. She has continued to achieve her goals as an opera singer and teacher. It's amazing what relationships can do!
Our group had some great questions for Vince. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: How do you balance a career and family?
A: Sometimes you do it better than others! You have to realize that balancing all of your responsibilities is just that…a balancing act. It will never be perfect and you will always have to work at making it work. In addition, keep in mind that it is crucial to keep all of your roles in mind…you might think of balancing being a parent with your career, but don’t forget about your spouse. Bottom line, Vince suggests making sleep a priority, scheduling date nights with your spouse and having regular family meals. Do those things and that balancing act should be a bit simpler….promise!
Q: How do you keep from being overwhelmed?
A: Vince suggests observing the Daily Examen. It’s a fairly simple process, but one that can help to manage stress and refocus your thoughts on what is important. At the end of your day, close the door and just evaluate…what were the light and dark points in your day? What went well and what could have been handled differently? If there were dark points, correct them immediately…apologize to the person you were harsh with, realign goals that have gotten overlooked. Taking the time to evaluate on a daily basis helps to keep things in perspective and will help you to remain calm.
Q: When hiring, what skills do you look for?
A: When Vince looks at a resume, it’s about looking beyond the obvious. He looks for people with great decision making skills and for those who aren’t afraid of a challenge. He looks for a history of volunteerism and community involvement. Bottom line, Vince doesn’t shy away from hiring young professionals…he takes a hard look at potential and character. Good news for Emerging Leaders!
Q: What are the traits of a good leader?
A: Vince says that there are several things that go in to being an effective leader. First, you have to know what people want from their job. Vince believes that most everyone needs (1) recognition for a job well done, (2) to be included on things that matter to them, and (3) to know that what they do makes a difference. However, it’s not enough just to have these three things in mind. When you are a leader, you have to know your people…what makes them feel appreciated, what makes them feel like they are making an impact? In order to learn more about people at St. Vincent, Vince walks the halls and talks with his employees. He learns about them and their lives and, in turn, they teach him about what matters.
In closing, Vince left us with several underlying thoughts. First, do the things that make a connection. Second, do what makes a difference. Lastly, strive to be the person that makes others better. Always be aware of the people who make you better and consider what you can do to influence others.
Thanks for the amazing insight and advice, Vince, we are all better for it!
We can't wait for the April lunch! We're sure Steve Walker will challenge us in new ways of thinking. He’s lined up to be the next Chamber president, and is known for his innovation and drive and for pushing the envelope. Keep an eye on our events page and make sure to register.
--Katie Hammer, Senior Manager of Donor Relations and
Emerging Leaders Program Manager, United Way
We were pleased to be among several organizations last Friday who received transformative gifts to honor the legacy of Albert and Sara Reuben.
The $500,000 bequest to United Way will be used to set up the Albert and Sara Reuben Early Childhood Fund to upgrade curriculum, instruction and resources for up to 100 childcare centers in our six-county area over 10 years.
Albert and Sara were immigrants who never forgot their humble roots. Albert died before Sara, and Sara left specific instructions that her son, Larry, would make decisions to distribute money to causes he felt would make positive changes in our community.
We are also grateful to our board chair, David Resnick, who helped set this wonderful outcome in motion. David introduced me to Larry last September, and together we began exploring how his family could be a part of addressing today's needs while also reducing tomorrow's.
Why early childcare? Quality childcare is the first step towards school readiness. And, helping kids be ready to learn when they start school is one of the building blocks for a better life that our United Way has made a priority.
The gift is significant because up to this point, United Way's work had focused strictly on childcare ministries and bringing them up to basic health and safety standards.
The Reuben's gift will enable us to work with Day Nursery's Child Care Answers to identify programs that want to be on the quality fast track. For an investment of about $13,000 each, United Way will work with the programs serving children from poorer families to provide professional development, training and other tools so that they can jump two levels in the state's Paths to Quality program in a year.
An exciting feature of the gift is that every child in the program will be enrolled in United Way's Early Readers Club, giving them high-quality, age-appropriate books and parent tips until they are 6 years old. It's one way we have of contributing to a home environment in which young children are read to frequently. And that's important because children who are read to become better readers and better students.
We expect to get started late this spring or early this summer, and hope to double the bequest so that it will have even greater impact. To that end, we'll be looking for other individuals, companies and grantmakers who want to join us in this LIVE UNITED for education work!
--Ellen K. Annala, president and CEO, United Way of Central Indiana
United Way of Central Indiana's President and CEO, Ellen K. Annala, was named one of 10 Torchbearers by the Indiana Commission for Women (ICW) at its annual salute to women on March 9.
Annala "is an inspiration to women and men leading and working in the nonprofit human services," read the nomination submitted by the Indiana Association of United Ways.
The first female chief executive of United Way, Annala "has dedicated her career to improving human services and her influence is evident throughout Indiana – far beyond her service to United Way."
The nomination cited Annala for "making Indiana a better place by ensuring that a strong human service delivery system is focused on services of the highest quality, based on research, reflecting community needs and cost-effective for donors and volunteers." She also pays "particular attention to ensuring that barriers to equality are minimized or removed for volunteers, staff and those they serve."
Nominators also credited Annala for leadership "in making tomorrow a better place by helping children today; for helping propel Indiana's 2-1-1 network to one of the leading systems in the country; for dramatically expanding funds under United Way's management translating to stronger investments in the community and, more."
The awards are Indiana's most prestigious recognition of women honoring "those who have stepped forward to carry the light for other women."
For more background and to see the names of previous torchbearers, go here.
--Mary Kinney, media and public relations manager, United Way of Central Indiana
United Way's President and CEO Ellen Annala (left) and Agency Services staff Mary Jones and Christie Gillespie got a behind-the-scenes look at some of the 32 residences which will become home for local homeless families as part of the Building a Living Legacy project funded by Central Indiana REALTORS®
United Way of Central Indiana provided $450,000 to help fund the purchase, renovation and construction of foreclosed or abandoned houses on Indianapolis’ Near Eastside. The REALTOR® Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS®) has pledged another $500,000 to the project, which has a total cost of $5 million.
Homes will be rented to homeless families or families at risk of being homeless. They will receive such support services as job training, financial management and youth programs through the nearby John H. Boner Community Center, a United Way agency.
Residences include new single-family homes, as well as renovated duplexes. The Boner Center is working to identify the first family, which could move into the house this spring. All 32 residences will be completed before the 2012 Super Bowl.
In January, Youth as Resources staff members presented the CREM Award (Constituent Relationship Engagement and Management) to United Way’s five area directors. YAR staff recognized each of the directors for their outstanding campaign work, as well as their individual passionate commitments to creatively addressing the multitude of needs in their communities. Youth as Resources expressed immense gratitude for their enthusiastic support of the YAR program and applauded their recognition of the importance of engaging youth in philanthropy in order to create lifelong donors and volunteers.
Congratulations, Jill, Joan, Paula, Susie and Diana, and thank you! We are so lucky to have such an amazing, passionate team of area directors as co-workers and friends!
--Jeanie Roberts, Youth as Resources program coordinator - Hancock and Morgan Counties
People give to a cause when someone asks them to. It's a fundraising basic. In the case of United Way, often that "someone" is a volunteer, and we call them torchbearers. They are community ambassadors to workplace groups throughout Central Indiana, and we honored those who served in the 2010 campaign at a reception last week at United Way's Indianapolis headquarters.
Last year, torchbearers made more than 836 speeches encouraging people to LIVE UNITED by giving. Of the 136 volunteer torchbearers, 62 represented United Way agencies.
The top four agencies who recruited the most active speakers posed for a picture with United Way's president and CEO Ellen K. Annala (blue jacket) and me. Pictured with us are: Jennifer Vigran, Second Helpings; Anita Owen, Families First; Jeff Schafer, Starfish Initiative; and, Tom Abeel, John H. Boner Community Center.
"Every two and a half years, United Way raises more than $100 million in this community," said Annala. "Torchbearers who give their time to take the message out to thousands of meetings in a six county area at all times of the day and night are crucial to that massive outreach. We could not do it without them!"
Recruiting for 2011 torchbearers will be underway soon. Watch for details at uwci.org.
--Alan Witchey, Director, United Way's Volunteer Center
I’m thrilled to finally announce the names of the five winners of the Peyton Manning incentive. This Friday, they’ll be attending Peyton’s "Celebration of Caring" event for the children’s hospital, emceed by Bob Costas with a performance by Kenny Chesney. Our winners will meet with Peyton privately and get their pictures with him at the beginning of the evening.
- Rich Carmack – Roche Diagnostics Corporation
- Angela Cervantez-Gardner – Wishard Health Services
- Bond Sandoe – American Art Clay Company, Inc.
- Matt Stout – BKD, LLP
- Steve Wilson – Noble of Indiana
Once again, we'd like to send a huge thank you to St. Vincent Health and, of course, Peyton himself for making this happen for our contributors.
--Sam Perry, Director, Marketing & Communications, United Way