Editor's note: Congratulation to HVAF of Indiana, Inc. on this wonderful accomplishment!
HVAF of Indiana, Inc. received the 2010 Secretary’s Award of Outstanding Achievement from the Department of Veteran Affairs. HVAF was recognized as as one of the best organizations in the nation for its exemplary service to homeless veterans. The award was presented by Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, at the VA National Summit in DC.
--Debra Des Vignes, communications, marketing and public relations coordinator,
HVAF of Indiana, Inc.
I'm Christa Thacker, manager of Leadership United, United Way of Central Indiana's exciting nine-month community leadership and board development program. Leadership United combines classes, field trips and practical experiences to allow participants to learn more about Central Indiana so that they can become leaders in the nonprofit community.
Within Leadership United there are four specialized series for adults, and one for high school students. Each adult series is moderated by an influential community leader who will serve as a mentor and guide. For 2011-12, I'm pleased to welcome Jennifer Pope Baker, Sherrie Bossung, Claudette Einhorn and Murvin Enders as our series moderators.
The program begins again in August, and for the first time, applications are being accepted electronically. To apply by June 17, or to learn more, visit uwci.org/leadunited. As one of our participants pointed out to her class, "everything is possible when our leadership is united!" Why don't you join me on your own journey of leadership and service? See you in August!
--Christa Thacker, manager, Leadership United, United Way of Central Indiana
Editor's note: In December 2008, United Way and a collaboration of local funders established a new Community Economic Relief Fund to give frontline agencies more resources to help people cope with the worsening economy. Since then, nearly $10 million has been put to work helping 53,286 households* in six counties to pay for basic needs. This is a story about one person who benefitted from CERF, which is managed by United Way.
According to a 2009 U.S. Census Bureau report, females constitute about 83 percent of all single parent households. About a fourth of single parent households live below federal poverty levels.
These statistics couldn't be more real to the Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC), a United Way agency, where I work as a case manager.
Over the past 10 years, I have been fortunate to work with single parents to help them gain employment skills, most recently in the Strategies To Empower and Promote Success (STEPS) Program.
I met Natisha when she enrolled in STEPS about 18 months ago. A single mom with two children, she faced many major stumbling blocks when she began the training: no transportation, no childcare, no home, no income and a survivor of domestic violence. She was forced to live with family and friends.
I was amazed by Natisha’s positive attitude and motivation in spite of the obstacles she faced. She didn’t allow herself to be defeated by life’s trajectory.
Although some would have labeled her situation hopeless, and at times she must have felt that hopelessness, I knew that if we could wrap some love and resources around her and provide her with opportunities, she would seize them and succeed.
We used the Community Economic Relief Fund (CERF), FEMA, food pantry, Thanksgiving and Christmas assistance as resources to help stabilize Natisha's family as she began rebuilding her life.
An investment of approximately $1,835 in supportive services and approximately $2,000 of in-kind support through partnerships have yielded positive results. We are pleased to say that today Natisha is working as a caseworker for FSSA and is doing well.
She has just recently purchased a car and hopes to one day soon re-establish her place of residency. There were times when her obstacles seemed insurmountable, but Natisha didn’t give up, and we didn’t give up on her.
It takes an intentional and collective effort to help someone rebuild their life. Social services without a job keep people dependent on support. A job without social services can make maintaining employment challenging. Financial literacy training without a job means you have no resources to manage.
Natisha's story is the epitome of what can happen when you match motivation and drive with all available resources, wrap around services and employment opportunities with those who need a hand up.
--Tawnya McCrary, case manager, Edna Martin Christian Center
Since 2004, UWCI has invested more than $632,000 helping Edna Martin Christian Center provide comprehensive family and community strengthening programs. United Way’s funding includes nearly $243,000 from the Capital Projects, Facilities Maintenance and Technology Funds. (These monies do not come from the annual campaign.) The agency’s current year Community Fund allocation is $42,380. Through the Community Economic Relief Fund, the agency also received a total $210,000 in 2009-10.
* Includes duplicates; households assisted in multiple months count each time.
Editor's note: Thank you, Mayor Ballard, for sharing these comments with us!
I was honored to participate in United Way's Education Town Hall in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. I was the only mayor on the panel, hosted by CNN's Soledad O'Brien.
There was serious discussion of the causes and potential solutions regarding the educational challenges in our country. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Alana Powell and Michael Powell of America's Promise Alliance participated, along with many others who are on the front lines of the education struggle.
It was clear that some in our country are angry, sad and disappointed with the current state of education, but there is growing movement for change. I am optimistic. It's easy to feel the momentum.
I believe Indianapolis is ahead of the curve with organizations such as The Mind Trust, programs such as the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s Common Goal and United Way’s ReadUP, and corporate support such as Kroger's commitment to invest $3.8 million toward local educational initiatives.
We're fortunate that Star Media Group has invested unprecedented resources in reporting K-12 education issues over the past 18 months, including the Our Children, Our City series.
The major announcement at this town hall was United Way Worldwide expressing its goal of adding one million more volunteers nationally to help children achieve their educational goals. United Way is a galvanizing force, and I expect people to strongly rally toward this cause.
Indianapolis has always been a great city for volunteering, and I'm confident we will do more than our fair share. The stakes are high, and communities need to respond. I know Indianapolis will step up and become engaged.
I encourage you to continue this conversation by sharing your ideas with me and others by commenting on this blog.
-- Greg Ballard, Mayor, City of Indianapolis
Check out United Way Worldwide’s report, "Voices for the Common Good: America Speaks Out on Education," the result of community conversations nationwide.