From the time I started working, I found ways to assist United Way through payroll deduction and by volunteering. More than 30 years ago, my United Way agency involvement began as a Big Sister here in Indianapolis. My Little Sister and I were matched for four wonderful years.
About 18 years ago, I was a human resources representative, and the company I worked for sponsored employees to participate in United Way's leadership programs. My job was to find candidates for the programs.
Soon, I was given the opportunity to participate. I attended United Way's Leadership Training & Development Series for Diversity in 1996. In 1999, I participated in The Executive Women’s Leadership Program Board Leadership Development.
After the first program, I became a United Way torchbearer. I went to several companies to talk about the importance of United Way, how United Way and United Way agencies impacted my life personally and professionally, and how I would appreciate it if they too would give their time, talents and treasures.
My torchbearer visits were not just outside my employer’s four walls but also inside. I would go to group meetings to talk about the importance of giving to United Way. My goal was to provide enough information about what United Way does for the community to cause people to give more time and money each year.
Even when I changed jobs, United Way remained my passion. I became the campaign coordinator for my current employer, meeting with managers and employees to talk about United Way and recruiting others.
Using email, flyers and continual conversation, we succeeded in increasing the number of employees contributing to United Way and the number giving at leadership (Key Club).
Fast forward to about 2004 when I began volunteering as an agency evaluator. Each year, you can find me on at least three to four agency evaluator teams.
Visiting different agencies helps me to fully understand how my United Way contributions are being invested to help others. One standout experience was visiting the same organization three years in a row and seeing significant improvements over that time.
This let me know what I did as a volunteer evaluator truly helped this agency as it changed directions and transitioned to new leadership. I truly felt our work had value to the agency, its clients, and the whole community.
I enjoy all my United Way experiences. United Way of Central Indiana does many wonderful things for our community, and I encourage you to join me in finding a way or ways to LIVE UNITED too!
I'm part of a team of three full-time and one part-timer at Flanner House, whose job title is a little unusual: relationship manager. We don't consider ourselves "case managers," because we have long-term relationships with people, not with "cases."
Our goal is to help people earn more money, keep more of what they earn and even move up the economic ladder.
Right now, I'm working with about 40 families. I know that some people don't understand why anyone who wants to work is not working because they know there are jobs available.
Here are four things I wish more people knew about why it's not so simple for everyone who is out of work to quickly get a job.
1. Having reliable transportation can be a big barrier to going to work. Many don't have a car. Others may have a car, but they cannot afford to fill up the gas tank. And then others may live near a bus, but bus service might not extend to where the job is.
2. The application process itself can be a stumbling block. In recent years, the very act of filling an application has changed dramatically. Everything is online. Some places even refuse to accept a paper application. And while we might be able to get people in front of a computer at a library or in a community center, sometimes they don't have a clue how to use a computer, so job seekers must first learn how to set up email, learn word processing software and other programs before they can even begin the job search.
3. Child care may be either inadequate or unaffordable. If your job starts at 6 a.m. and you can't get child care until 7 a.m., that can be a show stopper. If you can find child care that's adequate, you might not be able to afford it. And then there's the issue of timing. In order to get child care subsidies, you must already have a job. But landing a job when you don't already have a way to pay for child care is another challenge our job seekers face.
4. Many have lost confidence in themselves and in their own ability to turn bad circumstances around. I remember one young single mom with three boys who had completed our program and was looking for housing. She had been told "no" so many times, she simply did not believe she could get a "yes." I told her she needed to sell herself. She needed to explain how she completed the program and was a responsible citizen. She needed to believe she could make the changes in her life that she wanted. Within a week, she found housing that was affordable and safe.
Helping people get new skills takes time, but in some ways it is the easy part of being a relationship manager. What's not so easy is helping them believe in their own potential. We encourage them to "think about what you are thinking about."
We are grateful for the support we get from United Way and people who contribute to it, because it helps us teach the hard skills people need to get a job. More importantly, it allows us to help our neighbors realize that our community is behind them, and it's within their power to make big changes in their own lives.
–Beth McClellan, relationship manager, Flanner House of Indianapolis
The community's 2011 annual campaign ended at $40.6 million, a record-breaking campaign total. United Way announced the news at the racing-themed annual meeting celebration on March 27.
The annual meeting was held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis. The event began with traditional bagpipe playing and United Way employee Shirley Dabney's performance of "Back Home Again in Indiana." During the program, United Way donors and supporters were recognized for their exemplary campaign achievement.
Ellen Annala, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana, credited United Way campaign chair, Marianne Glick, for "reenergizing the base and attracting new givers to the mission."
Glick and her team of volunteers called on more than 300 CEOs to encourage giving during the campaign. Guests enjoyed video highlights of campaign events organized by Glick. Glick also organized a video contest and a new Caring Club that featured member discounts to help revitalize the campaign.
"Much of the gain came from the Top 100 United Way participating companies, where contributions grew by 5 percent or $1.6 million," Annala said.
Program successes celebrated at United Way's annual meeting include:
Recruitment and training of more than 1,000 ReadUP tutors for elementary students in 21 schools who are helping them become better readers.
Improved health and safety conditions at 26 child care facilities for thousands of children in poor neighborhoods during their critical first five years.
Providing basic food, clothing, rent and utility needs for 98,000 struggling households through 42 funded agencies. Providing shelter, transitional or supportive housing for more than 8,000 people through eight funded agencies.
Providing almost 15,000 older adults with meals, social, recreational and health needs at senior centers through 11 funded agencies.
Also at the event, United Way recognized six distinguished companies who used best practices to achieve or exceed fundraising goals. Those companies recognized were: the largest first-time workplace campaign, K.A.R. Auction Services Inc.; largest increase in unrestricted giving, Gene B. Glick Company Inc.; largest increase in contributors, Greenfield Central School Corporation; largest increase in overall giving, Horton Inc.; largest increase in leadership giving, Community Health Network; and also from Community Health Network, the most creative CEO, Bryan Mills.
The top 21 companies ranked exclusively for giving during the annual campaign (announced previously) were recognized, as well as Spirit United winners: Allison Transmission and Local Union #933, BKD LLP, CNO Financial Group Inc. and Community Health Network. Spirit United honorees closed the event with the traditional kissing of the bricks.
United Way is grateful for such strong community support. The outstanding campaign total of $40.6 million was achieved through an exceptional amount of giving. Thank you for LIVING UNITED!
Click here to view more photos of the event.
–Katie Rethlake, communications intern, United Way of Central Indiana
The 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly adjourned early, the morning of March 10. As I've posted in earlier entries, the legislature had a busy "short" session and the last week was not an exception. The following bills were passed by the General Assembly and are supported by United Way:
- SEA 268 establishes an early learning advisory committee
- HEA 1376 provides additional funding for all-day kindergarten. In addition to support for the funding, United Way supports mandatory all-day kindergarten for Indiana children.
- HEA 1141 provides additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP),
- HEA 1149 puts in place a statewide smoking ban for many public places, with several exemptions including bars and casinos. United Way of Central Indiana supports comprehensive smoke-free air policies, but did not take a position on this legislation.
HEA 268 and 1149 have been signed by Governor Daniels, while HEA 1376 and 1141 are still awaiting signature.
In my last entry, I provided an update on HB 1136 which would have formally recognized the Registered Ministry Advisory Council, and changed the definition of a registered child care ministry. During the last week of session, the bill did not pass out of its conference committee. The bill would have provided additional health and safety standards for Indiana child care providers. Although it wasn’t passed, the issue invoked attention amongst the legislature, and was debated on the Senate floor and amongst various committees. Over the last several weeks, there’s been additional media coverage on the issue, including an article that appeared in the Indianapolis Star on March 11, and an editorial from the Star published on March 15.
In addition to the legislative activity at the statehouse this session, United Way of Central Indiana also participated in the United Way Day at the Statehouse on February 21. United Way staff and volunteers met with legislators and were recognized by House Concurrent Resolution 30. The bill was passed by both the House and Senate, and honored United Way agencies of Indiana. Thanks to all United Way of Central Indiana volunteers who participated! Below is just one of the many photos from the day. You can view the rest here.
–Laura Smoots, director public policy, United Way of Central Indiana
Richard (Dick) E. Hester of Carmel was named Volunteer of the Year by United Way of Central Indiana at the 2012 United Way and Funds Volunteer of the Year Awards Banquet in February.
Hester, senior partner of Sunbelt Indiana Business Resources, is a United Way board member and serves on the campaign cabinet where he has, over time, helped raise more than $77 million for the community.
Hester also volunteers as an agency evaluator, was a founding member of the Ready to Learn, Ready to Earn Committee, and trains future community leaders participating in Leadership United.
"His wit, enthusiasm and willingness to ask the tough questions makes Dick's voice as a volunteer invaluable," according to the nomination.
–Mary Kinney, public/media relations director, United Way of Central Indiana
Have you battled weight and fitness problems? If so, helping your child avoid that struggle may be a priority. What if you had the opportunity to educate your child on eating habits and a healthy lifestyle? It's possible for Indianapolis' westside because local college students are working with a United Way agency as part of United Way Worldwide partnership.
Students from Butler University are competing in the 2012 Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Bateman Competition. The Bateman Competition is an annual competition for college students studying public relations or communications.
The focus for the 2012 competition projects is child obesity. The students were asked to work closely with a local United Way agency. The Butler students chose to work with the Christamore House. The Christamore House is a family and community center in the Haughville neighborhood, and it was founded by two former Butler graduates.
Students discussed potential program ideas with the Christamore staff to address the issue of child obesity. They collaborated and created a health and fitness program for children ages six to 11 years old. Members of the Butler soccer team and the Butler University Health and Recreation Complex (HRC) helped assist the students with the planned health and fitness events held at the Christamore House.
The students taught the kids about health and wellness, fitness, and led activities which included: soccer, volleyball, dance lessons and light weight training.
The HRC fitness staff agreed to continue the wellness program for the Christamore House once the competition has ended.
Good luck to the Butler Bateman Team!
–Katie Rethlake, communications intern, United Way of Central Indiana
A ceremony was held on March 2 to break ground for the Benjamin Harrison YMCA's new Outdoor Aquatic Center. The new pool will be the only outdoor public pool in Lawrence Township.
The new center will address the need for recreation, swimming lessons and water safety education, and will feature an outdoor pool and splash pad. A $1 million grant from United Way of Central Indiana was given for the project. "Without United Way’s support, we would not be in the process of opening the pool this summer," said Eric Ellsworth, president and CEO, in a United Way press release.
The Benjamin Harrison YMCA has served children and families in Lawrence, Geist, McCordsville, Fortville and Castleton since 1997. The center is expected to open in July 2013.
–Gary Woodworth, director of capital funds, United Way of Central Indiana
Following a six-week, million-dollar renovation, Second Helpings, a United Way agency, has doubled its capacity to serve children, adults and seniors in Central Indiana. Through it's capital projects fund, United Way invested in the expansion which was dedicated February 22.
From tilt skillets to a blast chiller, the kitchen expansion immediately allows Second Helpings to provide an additional 4,000 meals a week. which will be delivered, at no cost, to area Boys & Girls Clubs and many other local agencies.
Congratulations to Second Helpings on this exciting development!
--Mary Kinney, public/media relations director, United Way of Central Indiana
How can adults help teach young people to care about others and about needs in their community?
As faculty advisor of Lawrence Central High School Key Club, I see this as a lesson like most other life skills. It starts with the example we adults set.
Get involved yourself. Volunteer and take a young person along. If you are involved in a community group or organization, reach out to get young people involved with your organization’s needs.
My choice involves serving as both a student advisor at our school and as a member of the board of United Way of Central Indiana's Youth as Resources. In both capacities I recruit adults in the community to encourage young people to develop strong community projects and apply for and use Youth as Resources grants.
Applying for the grants benefits youth because the process empowers them to network with community leaders and organizations to develop solutions to a variety of community needs. The youth develop a project to help with the community need, and then write a grant applying for up to $2,000 that will be used directly to address that need.
YAR encourages youth groups to fundraise to enhance the grant money and to design and implement all projects with little support from adults. The projects can be developed by youth groups in schools, churches, scouting, YMCA, or neighborhood groups in Central Indiana.
The application is easy. Elementary children may need some assistance, but high school youth can complete it online on their own.
The most important step in developing a successful YAR project is to brainstorm solutions to a community organization’s needs.
When our Key Club developed the St. Mary’s Child Center grants in 2010 and 2011, officers met with the school's director to hear about their needs firsthand. Having the playgrounds at both schools cleaned, weeded and mulched, flowers planted, and vegetable gardens readied for the children to plant was a priority.
The north campus needed a new swing set. Our students developed a written plan with a detailed budget to address the need. They solicited local garden centers to donate supplies, and whatever was not donated became a budget item.
The 35 members volunteered to do all the labor. The officers completed the grant application with a viable plan and budget. The well- planned and presented projects resulted in two YAR grants totaling $5,410.
Since 2008, the LCHS Key Club has written and received YAR grants for more than $10,500!
Melissa MacNeur, student grant writer, said, "My YAR experience is something I will never forget. It taught me how to grow as a leader. And most importantly, it opened my eyes to seeing how important it is to help others. The impact we were able to have through our project was the most memorable. I would definitely recommend writing a YAR grant to any youth. It's not an opportunity to be passed up!"
United Way has helped our students learn life lessons about volunteering, developing a project, writing a grant to fund their ideas, and seeing the end result of their hard work. The community wins too!
–Nancy Barnes, Youth as Resources board member and Lawrence Central High School Key Club advisor
There's been a lot of activity in the state legislature and we're headed into what is expected to be the last week of session for 2012 - activity is expected to wrap-up by March 9. Here's a quick update on some of the most recent activity.
Senate Bill (SB) 268 that will establish an early learning advisory committee - which United Way supports - has now passed both chambers and is awaiting the Governor's signature. Additionally, United Way also supports House Bill (HB) 1141 - which will provide additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) - and language in HB 1376 that provides additional funding for full day kindergarten. Both bills have been passed by each chamber and will now go to House-Senate conference committees for further consideration.
Last week in the state legislature, there was a great deal of activity surrounding HB 1136 - a bill that formally recognizes the Registered Ministry Advisory Council. United Way supports HB 1136 which was amended and passed by the Senate last week and will now go to a conference committee. United Way also supported amendments that were offered to HB 1136 that would have put in place additional health and safety regulations for child care providers that receive government vouchers for their care.
Ultimately, the amendments that would have required additional health and safety standards were not adopted by the Senate. However, United Way thanks Senators for their support of these amendments and HB 1136.
*Click here to view a media story from WTHR Channel 13 about the debate on HB 1136 on the Senate Floor.*
Standard health and safety regulations for all providers will help ensure children have access to quality child care and early learning opportunities, which is crucial to school readiness and will result in higher quality child care options for parents. On February 26, Ted Maple - United Way's Director of Early Childhood programs - authored a piece in The Indianapolis Star which described the need for additional health and safety standards for all Indiana child care providers as well as United Way's work with registered ministries and commitment to early childhood education. The Indianapolis Star also ran an editorial on this issue on February 25.
–Laura Smoots, director of public policy, United Way of Central Indiana