United Way of Central Indiana staff gathered canned goods to donate to Second Helpings in preparation for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The food collection culminated into a showdown of creativity and ingenuity between the staff that was divided into teams. The "Mighty Gobblers" won the competition by constructing a unique display of non-perishables in the shape of an octopus. In all, 587 total goods were collected and donated. See photos here.
--Jessie Smith, marketing assistant, United Way of Central Indiana
This week is American Education Week. Throughout my career, I have used this week to highlight the power of education. As far back as I can remember, education has been a priority for me. My earliest memory is of me, five years old, dressed in a gray dress with pink roses and a white peter pan collar waiting impatiently for my mom to take me to my first day of kindergarten. My excitement for school grew into a drive to succeed and become an educator for kids like me. I was fortunate that so many adults in my young life, both in the school and in the community saw potential in me, supported me, pushed me and gave me access to many opportunities that were unavailable to families in our economic situation.
As a former public school educator, it was always clear that education of our students and the responsibility for that extended beyond the four walls of a school building and outside of a school district. That a healthy democratic community embodied a well educated citizenry and schools with the support of community were a critical part of this equation. The partnership between schools and community is considered necessary to address the needs and problems of the schools for the health and well being of the children, the families, the schools and the total community. This was recognized at the national level decades ago and resulted in a designation called American Education Week.
The National Education Association (NEA) provided the following as background on the founding of American Education Week:
Disturbed by the data, 25% of World War I draftees being illiterate and 9% of them being physically unfit, representatives from National Education Association and the American Legion came together in 1919 to address this concern. Fearing for the educational well-being of the nation their focus was to generate public support for education. The resulting resolutions that came out of this collaboration were created to raise public awareness about the importance of education. In 1921, the NEA Representative Assembly in Des Moines, Iowa, called for designation of one week each year to spotlight education. In its resolution, the NEA called for: "An educational week...observed in all communities annually for the purpose of informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs."
United Way of Central Indiana responded to this undertaking in 2006 with its Ready to Learn, Ready to Earn priority. Our early childhood work and elementary initiatives in the Bridges to Success schools, including ReadUP, Project SEED, mentoring, health clinics and school community coordinators, are in response to the needs of the schools. Our work is a partnership with the schools and is designed to support their students and families with resources that contribute to healthy students, healthy families and improved academic achievement. How fortunate for me that I am able to continue my work by helping to develop those partnerships that are benefiting our children and our community.
There are many children like me in our schools who need you - need your investment in them. ReadUP needs more tutors. Our mentoring program needs more male mentors. Early childhood needs readers. Believe me, you really do have the power to change a child’s future. Go here to find the right opportunity for you. Or call the Volunteer Center at 317.921.1271.
--Dr. Phyllis Martin, director, education strategies and initiatives, United Way of Central Indiana
For the third consecutive year, Indianapolis Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay pledged to give $1 for every ticket distributed at a home game. During halftime of the Nov. 6 game, Colts Vice President Kalen Irsay, United Way of Central Indiana President and CEO Ellen Annala, United Way Annual Campaign Chair Marianne Glick and Indianapolis Colts Vice President Casey Irsay Foyt appeared on the field for the presentation of a ceremonial check for more than $67,000. Throughout the campaign, the Colts have offered an array of incentives, including chances to win tickets and memorabilia, for those who contribute at least $150 or increase past support by $150.
--Mary Kinney, public/media relations director, United Way of Central Indiana
Editor's note: In September, United Way's Emerging Leaders had the pleasure of hearing from Marianne Glick at their quarterly Leadership Lunch. Read on for Katie Hammer's recap of the lunch and summary of Marianne's presentation.
Our September Leadership Lunch featured speaker Marianne Glick, most widely known for her philanthropic efforts in our community. But what you don't know until you meet her is that she is one passionate woman! Marianne makes it her personal mission to ignite, inspire and direct energy for positive action. Sounds to us like she is a perfect person to talk about developing into a great leader and following your passion every day.
As United Way of Central Indiana's fourth female campaign chair, Marianne is leading the charge toward this year's $39.2 million goal. A huge undertaking, indeed, but Marianne is accustomed to taking on big challenges – and succeeding. After graduating college, she began her career at her father's property management company. Five years into the job, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and she decided to start a business that provided cable TV service to apartments. As a young woman, she faced many barriers - people thought that she was too young, she had to recruit new business, she was leading a team of new employees, etc. In addition, Marianne found that she had 100% turnover amongst her employees in the first year of business. What?! That was Marianne’s reaction too, but she quickly set to work analyzing what the problem could be. And what she found led her to learn a great lesson about being a leader: just because you operate a certain way doesn’t mean those around you do. Once Marianne learned to focus on meeting her employees where they were, giving them what they needed from a boss, the outcome was amazing. People stayed in their jobs, got even better at them, and business was soon booming. Therefore the advice is this: when you are in a leadership role, recognize all contributions. Determine what motivates others and meet them in that place.
In 1986, Marianne founded Glick Training Associates, a firm meant to help organizations enhance employee productivity and effectiveness. She led as president of the firm until her recent retirement. In addition to her professional experience, Marianne began painting in 2004 and has become an accomplished artist, with paintings accepted into juried competitions and winning awards in Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Florida. When asked about why she decided to take up painting, Marianne states that it was about doing something that she loves. When she began taking art classes, she knew that painting was something that she felt great passion for. She decided to invest time in building that talent, saying that she thinks it’s crucial to "find your special gift, find what you feel the best about doing, what makes time fly. Do more of that...you have to find what you love." To that point, Marianne invests time in painting, often passing along her paintings to assist nonprofit organizations, such as the Children’s Bureau, Girls Inc., Planned Parenthood and Dress for Success.
Marianne has extended her creativity to this year’s United Way campaign. Under her direction, we have introduced a video competition - Give Gleefully. In closing, Marianne stressed to the group that it is crucial to "find something to feel good about everyday and to make people around you feel good every day. That is the mark of a true leader." Great advice from one amazing woman! Thanks again, Marianne!
We can’t wait for the January Leadership Lunch, featuring David Resnick, managing partner at Katz, Sapper & Miller and UWCI’s board chair! Learn more and register here.
--Katie Hammer, senior manager of donor relations and
Emerging Leaders program manager, United Way
What Indiana Pacemate had the best Halloween costume in 2011?
That question was put to fans for a vote, and when Pacemate Jessica won with her firefighter's costume, it was cause for celebration at United Way of Central Indiana.
Jessica's win meant she could choose a favorite charity to give $1,000 from the Pacers Foundation to in her name, and she picked United Way. Jessica said she chose United Way because "they focus on the issues of the community and make them their own."
On hand for the check presentation by Jessica were (left to right) United Way President and CEO Ellen Annala; Pacers President Jim Morris; and Pacers Vice President, Corporate, Community and Public Relations Greg Schenkel.
Take a look at the happy occasion in this quick (less than 2 minutes) video story!
--Mary Kinney, public/media relations director, United Way of Central Indiana
Navigating the state legislature to advocate for an issue can seem complicated, messy and intimidating. That's why many people decide not to voice issues or concerns to their elected officials. However, advocating for an issue you're passionate about can also be exhilarating. That's what a group of Indiana Girl Scouts found when, three years ago , they discovered an issue they cared about and became advocates for it during a session of the Indiana General Assembly.
As part of a retreat focused on advocacy, the Girl Scouts found out that it's legal in Indiana to sell or donate toys that have been recalled. They were shocked to find that toys that were recalled for whatever reason – including safety issues – could then simply be sold again in stores or donated to charities or day cares. The Girl Scouts were so concerned with the current law that they became committed advocates for the issue and made it their own. The interested Girl Scouts worked with Girl Scouts of Central Indiana to figure out how they could change this law, and ended up talking with legislators about the issue, helping to draft the legislative language and testifying before the House of Representatives committee in support of the bill. One young woman from the Girl Scouts testified about issues with the current law and drew on her own experience working in an inner city day care, voicing her concern that children from low income households were likely to be the ones harmed by the current law. After her testimony, the committee - who noted how moved they were by her commitment to the issue - voted unanimously to pass the legislation and sent it to the full House for a vote, where it also passed.
Unfortunately, one of the harsh realities of public policy is that even important, seemingly noncontroversial issues sometimes don't make it out of the legislature to become law, which is what happened to this bill. Even with the support in the House, the bill wasn't heard in a Senate committee and hasn't yet become law, although it continues to be an area of focus for Girl Scouts of Central Indiana. On the bright side, another public policy reality is that there are victories even when the bill you're advocating for doesn't pass. The work of the Girl Scouts on this issue showed how committed advocates – who at first didn't know much about the legislative process – were successful in raising awareness about an issue, in educating legislators about its importance and in demonstrating that we can all be advocates for an issue that we care about.
As UWCI expands its work in public policy advocacy, examples like that of the Girl Scouts remind us how many issues are out there needing attention and how much of an impact committed volunteers and advocates can have in public policy advocacy.
--Laura Smoots, director, public policy, United Way of Central Indiana
Editor's note: When children don't feel well, they often don't do well in school. And absences disrupt both a child's learning and the overall classroom. Often, children miss school because of illnesses that could be treated in a health center. As part of United Way's education priority, we support health services in five Indianapolis Public Schools in two neighborhoods with significant need, providing preventative and primary care to hundreds of students. Since January 2008 United Way has invested $901,600 in school-based health centers in IPS elementary schools. Read what that investment means, from the perspective of a school principal.
In 1913, Dr. Theodore Potter founded a school focused on educating students suffering from tuberculosis and other lung ailments. Ironically, for well over 30 years, Theodore Potter School 74 went without a school nurse. It was not until United Way introduced us to Learning Well that we understood just how important it is to have a medical professional on campus.
Before our partnership with Learning Well, my mornings, lunches, and afternoons were spent dispensing medicine, applying bandages to skinned elbows, and offering cold packs to ease the pain of a bruised knee.
Each visit meant lost instructional time. If a student complained of a headache or upset tummy they spent more time away from class waiting for their parents to show up, as I could not do any diagnosis. Nine times out of ten when parents were called in they simply took their student home. That often resulted in an entire day of lost learning.
What a blessing Learning Well has been! Students now receive medicines, bandages and cold packs from a trusted medical professional. The school nurse sees through those who are complaining of tummy aches to get out of something and send them straight back to class. Most importantly, they can recognize those who are actually ill and act with confidence.
Since Learning Well joined the School 74 family, the dispensing of medicines is a more expeditious process. Scrapes and scratches are taken care of quickly with reassurance, kindness and care. This all equates to more class time for our students.
In addition to her expert clinical skills, our school nurse provides educational programming that helps students, staff and families learn how to lead a healthier life.
There is no doubt that our nurse has contributed to more instructional time, decreased clinic visits, and our first quarter’s 98.2% student attendance rate.
Words cannot express how much our students, staff and families appreciate our Learning Well nurse. A much-needed niche has been filled due to the generosity and dedication of Learning Well and United Way. School 74 is a stronger learning environment because of this, and I am confident many other schools would benefit in the same ways if offered the same opportunity.
--Tim Clevenger, principal, School 74