Young people in Central Indiana made a big impact in our community last month! On April 15 and 16, over 2,700 youth and adults volunteered for the 17th Annual Youth Day of Caring. They worked on 30 different projects across a six-county area, ranging from sorting food and clothing for local shelters, to cleaning up local parks and neighborhoods, to preparing food packets for the hungry.
Many of the volunteers participated as members of school, club, and church groups, but a number of families and individuals were also involved. Their work directly benefited nonprofit organizations in our community and the people that they serve. The help was sincerely appreciated by all, and seeing young people getting involved in their communities and having fun doing it motivates everyone!
Youth Day of Caring is held in celebration of Global Youth Service Day, an annual public awareness and education campaign that highlights the valuable contributions that young people make to their communities throughout the year. We hope the experience of volunteering during Youth Day of Caring serves to inspire continued volunteerism in our community.
See more photos from the event here.
--Laura Tagliani, Volunteer Center intern, United Way
The 2011 Breakfast of Champions was held on May 4 at the Indianapolis Colts Complex, with approximately 240 people attending the racing-themed event. Speakers included Doug Boles, public relations director for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Josh Bleill, Colts community spokesperson. The event also celebrated the 2010 United Way Campaign accomplishments in Hendricks County. Companies were recognized for their successes with their employee campaigns and community involvement. Tom Zupancic, Indianapolis Colts, and Senator Connie Lawson served as honorary chairs for the event.
Proceeds from the breakfast benefit United Way programs and agencies in Hendricks County. Companies that were recognized were: Steel Dynamics, Hendricks Regional Health, Plainfield Community Schools, Brightpoint, Homegoods, Duke Energy, and Balkamp. Indiana University Medical West Hospital received the Community Excellence Award for their philanthropic efforts countywide.
The master sponsors for the breakfast were: Duke Energy, Hendricks Power, Vectren Energy, Hendricks County Flyer, Hendricks County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Indianapolis Colts, State Bank of Lizton and Stewart Irwin.
Thanks again to all of our Hendricks County supporters!
--Susie Friend, Hendricks County area director, United Way of Central Indiana
On April 6 at Brookside Park, United Way and our community partners sponsored a very successful kickoff for the afterschool nutrition education program that began the week of April 11. Thanks to generous grant support from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, students from six IPS schools will work with a fun interactive nutrition curriculum for six weeks that will teach the basics of healthy eating, introduce delicious, nutritious foods and teach the kids to be savvy shoppers and consumers. Over 175 people, including elementary students from IPS schools 14, 15, 27, 48, 51 and 69, parents and neighbors, participated in the event.
The kickoff featured a lively food preparation demonstration led by nutritionist Annessa Chumbley, R.D. Annessa, who developed the curriculum that will be used in the afterschool programs of John H. Boner Community Center and Edna Martin Christian Center, prepared a number of healthy snacks with the help of students from the audience. Annessa also taught the kids what foods were good for specific parts of the body and demonstrated some negative things that can happen to the body when "less healthy" foods make up too much of your diet.
Angela Dabney, Sr. V.P. for Resource Development at United Way, presented a plaque to Tracey Brown of the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation in appreciation of grant support for school-based health and wellness programming. Tracey congratulated the students on their participation in the kickoff and encouraged them to use the upcoming nutrition education opportunity to help them live healthy lifestyles.
Stephanie Mathes, director of community relations for the Indianapolis Colts, was on hand to encourage the kids to be physically active and eat nutritious foods. In addition, Stephanie presented a traveling trophy to the John H. Boner Community Center and Edna Martin Christian Center afterschool programs for kids' participation in the Play 60 Challenge last fall. Play 60 is an NFL sponsored initiative that helps kids be physically active for 60 minutes everyday. The Colts also provided healthy sandwiches from Subway for the kickoff.
In addition to the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, the Colts, the John H. Boner Community Center and the Edna Martin Christian Center, a number of other partners supported the event and the upcoming nutrition program:
- FitCity provided technical assistance and access to professional consultants for program development.
- Indianapolis Public Schools provided staff expertise in program development and opened the doors of elementary schools and allowed their students to participate in programs.
- Indy Parks provided the facilities and staff support for the use of the Brookside facility.
- Pogue's Run Grocery and Food Co-op provided fruit and veggie trays and a free membership to the co-op as a door prize.
Thanks again to all who participated in this event! See more photos from the event here.
--Chuck Brandenburg, director, special project and grants, United Way of Central Indiana
Just over 100 children were registered for IPS kindergarten on Sat., April 16, thanks to a partnership between Indiana University Health, United Way of Central Indiana and the Indiana Association of United Ways. The collaboration is aimed at helping at-risk children transition successfully into school.
The partnership focuses on United Way's Kindergarten Countdown, a program that equips underserved children with the basic skills they need to succeed in kindergarten. The program has three main components: helping families navigate the school registration process, promoting school readiness through pre-kindergarten summer camps and encouraging first-day-of-school attendance.
United Way of Central Indiana began its kindergarten readiness efforts in 2007, focusing on two Indianapolis Public Schools neighborhoods. The campaign has had dramatic results, both in terms of helping youngsters improve their scores on a school readiness assessment and in improving the number of kindergarteners who attend on the first day.
IU Health is helping expand Kindergarten Countdown throughout the entire IPS district and introducing the program into other Indiana counties.
These youngsters got a T-shirt from IU Health volunteers when their parents registered them for school at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library’s Central Library. New enrollees also received a free backpack of school supplies, immunizations by IU Health nurses, child development assessments, a chance to meet PBS characters Clifford and the Cat in the Hat and their first library card.
This year's expansion of Kindergarten Countdown within IPS is also made possible by the continued support of PNC Bank and the generosity of major media outlets like RadioOne, Comcast, ClearChannel and others.
“Research shows that up to half of kindergarteners experience moderate to significant challenges transitioning to school,” said Ellen Annala, president & CEO of United Way of Central Indiana.“By working together, caring adults can help turn that around. IU Health's commitment to Kindergarten Countdown and their emphasis on employee volunteerism will go a long way to helping make sure Indiana's children are ready to learn, on day one."
See more photos from the event here.
--Heather Girton, associate, Success by 6
Editor's note: In September 2009, our community got word that it would receive $5.8 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help neighbors in need. Grants were made to 20 local agencies that help open doors for people without homes or those at risk of becoming homeless. At the time, United Way estimated the funds would help an estimated 2,044 households. So far, more than 900 households have been helped. Katie's story, as told by her caseworker at a United Way agency, helps show how the return on this investment goes far beyond helping someone pay their rent.
In January 2010, I had the privilege of meeting Katie McCallaham. Katie came into Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, asking for help. She was stressed, scared and worst of all, hopeless. She told me she had just received an eviction notice from her apartment complex, and she did not have a way to pay her rent.
Katie, age 29, is a single mother raising two boys, Blayne, age 8, and Layton, age 6. When I initially met with her, she talked to me about her fears of not being able to have a stable home for her children, and told me how important it was for her to be a role model to her children.
At the time, Katie was enrolled in school full-time at Harrison College, and was studying to become a medical assistant. “I want to work and take care of my children,” she said.
She told me how hard it is to raise a family and provide for a family when there just isn’t enough household income. The child support payments Katie received were only enough to make sure her sons had some basics, such as clothes, shoes and school supplies. Katie could not keep up with her rent, and did not have friends or family she could stay with.
During our conversation, it struck me how difficult it must be to be in Katie's position. How daunting it must be to be a single mother, trying to better yourself and trying to make a good life for your family, but not having the means to provide the most basic of needs – shelter.
After talking with Katie about her goals, I decided to enroll her into the Homeless Prevention program, a housing program managed by United Way of Central Indiana.
The program helps families, like Katie’s, to remain in stable housing by helping them pay their rent as they work on becoming self-sufficient. With the help of United Way’s excellent staff and through the use of this generous funding, I knew we could help Katie achieve her goals of providing for her children on her own.
In January 2011, Katie achieved the goals she set out to accomplish. She completed school and used her education to find full-time work as an office manager at a sales company. She told me how grateful she is to United Way and Mary Rigg for helping her at a critical time in her life. “My life is so much better now,” she said.
Katie is one of many success stories that I have observed during my time at Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. For me, it has been humbling and inspiring to have the opportunity to work with clients and help them change their lives.
I’ve learned many things at Mary Rigg. I’ve learned how important agencies such as United Way are to these people and to their families. I’ve learned how important it is to give people the opportunity to make their lives better. I’ve learned how important it is to give people hope.
--Linda Kassis, caseworker, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center
Prior to 2004, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center was one of 14 neighborhood centers receiving United Way funds through the now defunct Community Centers of Indianapolis. Since 2004, UWCI has invested more than $2.9 million helping the center improve the lives of residents of southwest Indianapolis and Decatur Township through assistance, opportunity and education. The funding includes more than $236,000 from United Way’s Capital Projects, Facilities Maintenance and Technology funds. (These monies do not come from the annual campaign.)The agency’s current year allocation is $361,611.
Mary Rigg received $215,000 total from the Community Economic Relief Fund (CERF) during 2009 and 2010. The agency was also awarded 3-year grants in the amount of $330,000 for homeless prevention and $70,000 for rapid re-housing services, funds administered by UWCI under Title XII of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.