Your gifts, Randall’s story: After the fire, Red Cross and you helped vulnerable senior with turnaround
Randall Lewis was watching television in his Speedway townhome on May 10, when he saw sparks fly. After helping his 87-year-old neighbor out of the building, Randall got out safely too. But he was unable to retrieve any of his possessions from the apartment fire – including up to nine kinds of medications he needed daily.
Randall remembers that firemen took him to a hotel where he spent the week, courtesy of the American Red Cross, a United Way agency. Next, thanks to a series of happy coincidences, Red Cross helped Randall meet his immediate needs including temporary shelter and basics such as food and clothing that night. Longer term, they also helped Randall – an already vulnerable senior with no family – reverse what could have been a downward spiral.
During the casework process, Red Cross Disaster Specialist Joyce Armour learned that Randall could not return to the complex. She also learned that he could not read, write or drive due to the effects of a recent stroke; and was relying on a caring neighbor for a wide range of assistance.
Once a floral designer, Randall was living on disability. He needed all his funds for rent, recent cataract surgery and other expenses. Not eating properly, Randall's health made living alone a poor choice.
Slowly, Joyce gained Randall's trust and contacted his primary care physician. When Joyce telephoned, she heard a familiar voice on the other end. It was Susan Grigsby, Red Cross disaster volunteer. Joyce quickly enlisted Susan’s help to reassure Randall that they had his best interests at heart. Together, they worked to secure him an apartment in an assisted living facility just a block away from his former home.
Six days after the fire, Randall was settled into his new home. Red Cross helped him purchase new bedding and linens, pay the first month’s rent and administrative fee, and replaced his medications and eyeglasses.
If Randall had been left on his own, his health could have quickly deteriorated. Instead, a caring caseworker joined a trusted health care worker and assisted living administrator to help literally turn things around for Randall.
Once isolated and not getting the nutrition he needed, Randall is now socializing with his fellow residents, eating three "good" meals a day and getting physical therapy so he will no longer shuffle when he walks. He's made friends, enjoys playing Bingo with other residents and feeding the birds.
Because you give to United Way, you're investing in turning Randall's life around too. Thank you!
--Ann A. Gregson, resource development manager, American Red Cross
Editor's note: Undesignated gifts to United Way of Central Indiana's annual campaign help ensure that people who experience disaster have the basic needs to recover, through programs and services offered by American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis. Since 1958, United Way has invested more than $83.6 million helping Red Cross. The funding includes grants of more than $2.9 million for capital, maintenance and technology improvements from funds contributed specifically for such needs. The agency’s 2012/2013 Community Fund allocation is $1,141,303
Employees of the Hancock County Public Library wore their favorite Superhero shirts to the work to kick off their United Way Pacesetter Campaign. The Superhero theme was inspired by United Way’s Annual Day of Caring breakfast.
Front: Kristine Gilbertson, Catherine Mroz, Bambi Pea, Catherine Riley
Back: Kitty Smock, Mary Lynn Burrows, Terri Gorden, Jeff Butts, Melissa Jefferson
--Mary Lynn Burrows, Executive Assistant, Hancock County Public Library
Editor's note: In July, United Way's Women United members had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Virginia Caine at their quarterly lunch and learn. Read on for Alli Latislaw's recap of the event and summary of Dr. Caine's presentation.
"The best medicine is when we are giving from our heart." - Dr. Virginia Caine
Do you know the health challenges that Indiana is facing today? Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department and Associate Professor of Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine Infectious Disease, has the answers. As the guest speaker for our July Lunch and Learn, she spoke to members about the importance of public health and why we as women need to pay attention. Breaking her talk into topics of obesity, hospitalization, and the power of women, she shared some startling statistics. Perhaps one of the most shocking was that as of this year, 1/3 of the women in Indiana are more than 30 pounds overweight, and 1/3 of our children are considered diabetic.
Public health is important because people want to be healthy and live in healthy communities. It has been researched that healthy individuals and communities have a better quality of life, attract employers and keep insurance costs low.
Some of the challenges that are facing Hoosiers are listed here in comparison to the national average:
- High prevalence of smoking at 21.2% of the population (national average: 9.1%)
- Out of 100,000 Hoosiers there are 208.2 deaths annually related to cancer (197.2 deaths average)
- 30.2% of the population in Indiana is considered obese (national average: 21.4%)
- Of Indiana children under the age of 18, are 25.2% are living in poverty (national average 6.2%)
- 13.6% of Hoosiers do not have health insurance
The percentage of the population that is considered more than 30 pounds overweight has tripled in 20 years! One of the reasons for this large increase is the change of portion sizes: meals, drinks and snacks now have double or more the amount of calories and are sold at much larger serving sizes. For example, movie popcorn used to be sold in a three cup carton with 174 calories. Movie popcorn now holds 21 cups of buttered popcorn at 1,700 calories. Remember this the next time you pull through a drive-through window or go to the movies.
The obesity trends among U.S. adults from 1990 to 2010 are listed below:
- In 10 states-10% of the population were 30 lbs overweight
- In 35 states – 10%-14% of the population were 30 lbs overweight
- In 14 states- 15%-19% of the population were 30 lbs overweight
- In 24 states- 20%-24% of the population were 30 lbs overweight
- In 12 states- 25%-29% of the population were 30 lbs overweight
Asthma is another problem that is being faced in Indiana. The residence of urban cities face a disproportionate amount of environmental hazards, including air pollution, secondhand smoke, trash, and population density. In 2009, 32% of people between the ages of 5-15 were hospitalized because of respiratory problems and 20% because of asthma. It is the most common chronic condition in childhood in all of the United States. In Marion County alone, there are over 15,000 children diagnosed with asthma. It is the leading cause of school absence as of 2008. A child with asthma loses 75% more school days than a child who is not affected. That is 14.4 million lost school days in the United States. As of 2009 the cost of hospital charges linked to asthma has cost $30.5 million dollars. Exercise and clean air are the best remedies for asthma.
Dr. Caine provided the group with intriguing facts about the activities of women nationwide. Women:
- purchase 80% of all consumer goods
- purchase half of all cars and personal computers
- account for nearly half of stock owners
- buy 75% of all over-the-counter drugs
- influence 80% of all health care decisions
At the end of Dr. Caine’s insightful presentation, the crowd asked some great questions about public health in Indiana. Here are some of our favorites:
Q. What is causing the increase in allergies?
A. People are now becoming autoimmune to medication because of household products. But the major problem is air pollutions.
Q. Is the overuse of sanitizer bad for you?
A. There is a slight truth behind that theory. But it is the antibodies in the food that we eat and the over use of antibiotics to cure common illnesses that create an increase in the resistance against cures.
Check out photos from the event here. Thanks again, Dr. Caine! We're looking forward to our next lunch and learn, featuring Joyce Irwin. Please join us!
--Alli Latislaw, major gifts intern, United Way of Central Indiana
It's my job to see that people "get" the value of United Way. So when I meet someone who has experienced the life-changing help that we ask everyone to invest in, I'll admit something. Even after 15 years of doing this, I feel a touch of hero worship in getting to know them and the fine people at United Way agencies who were part of their turn-arounds.
I had one of those what I call "pedestal moments" recently when Niki Girls, the director of Concord Community Center, introduced me to Jeana Jefferson. Some 15 years ago, Jeana came to Concord, a single mom working a minimum wage job. She thought all she needed was affordable child care for her toddler son so she could show up at work.
Today, thanks to the support of people like Niki, Paula, Lynn and many others at Concord, Jeana has graduated from the University of Indianapolis and is a supervisor in her human resources profession. Jeana has not only furthered her education and improved her family's financial stability, she's also given her three sons some outstanding experiences at Concord.
You can hear what Jeana has to say about the impact of your investment in her family's stability by tuning in to WISH TV-8, 7:30 p.m. on September 4. Look for it during one of the station breaks. It's part of local television broadcasters' coverage of what giving, advocating and volunteering make possible, thanks to United Way.
And by the way, everyone who gives to United Way has a spot on my mental pedestal too! Thank you!
--Mary L. Kinney, Public/media relations director
When you meet Mariah (age 9), she'll impress you as a confident, talkative and personable fourth-grader. But last school year, she was struggling with school work and not on track to be promoted.
Instead of focusing on finishing her homework after school, Mariah was a social butterfly. At the end of the first semester, teachers were calling her mom, and she took home report cards with failing reading and math grades.
After a conference with our staff, Mariah's mother insisted Mariah participate in homework help sessions, and she was enrolled in ReadUP, United Way's reading tutoring program. Our club was the only non-school site for ReadUP.
As a result of hard work in both programs, Mariah passed both ISTEP and IREAD tests and was promoted to fourth grade. A bright but unfocused student, Mariah matured and has made academics a priority.
I like that we make learning fun for kids like Mariah. Every area of the club has some kind of educational component. One thing I learned is that if I'm struggling to help a child, it's OK to step aside and ask someone else to help them. It takes a community.
More than 70 percent of our members improve their grades. One of the reasons it works is that we show the kids that we care about their success. We walk them to school and pick them up after school. On the way, we ask about how their spelling test went and we compliment them when things go well.
We are not educators, but we are part of a community that cares about these kids. Their teachers know us, and we have good two-way communications to keep the kids accountable. We collect their report cards and reward them for perfect attendance and for getting their work done. If an incentive doesn't work for one child, we come up with another system that does.
Mariah is an awesome example of how anyone who gives to United Way is helping kids learn and grow personally.
--Ashlee Thomas, education director, Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis, Lilly Unit
Editor's note: Undesignated gifts to United Way's annual campaign help ensure that children have opportunities and acquire skills to succeed in school and in life. United Way invests in education by funding agencies and programs that provide quality out of school programs and activities, volunteer reading, tutoring and mentoring and positive youth development. During the 2010/11 reporting year, more than 53,797 kids benefitted from before and after school care, thanks to United Way givers.
Since 1923, United Way of Central Indiana has invested more than $41.5 million helping Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. This includes grants totaling more than $2.2 million for capital, maintenance and technology improvements from funds contributed specifically for such needs. The agency’s 2012/2013 Community Fund allocation is $923,686.
Each month, we'll post updates about United Way and our agencies. There's (nearly) always something going on!
United Way news
- Deborah Brunson is a new Human Resources associate.
- Stuart Drake is the new Volunteer Center engagement associate.
- Susan Reinhardt was promoted to ReadUP program manager from the position of coordinator.
- Hallie Robbins is an IUPUI student interning in Major Gifts.
- Judith Rosario, ReadUP manager, has resigned to become Deputy Director for Centro Hispano of Dane County Wisconsin.
- Loaned Associates assisting the annual campaign include: Susan Andersch for FedEX; Carolyn Caver from UPS; John Cayton, an IUPUI grad student; Jesse Fleming from FedEX; Melissa Humbert from Citizens Energy Group; Cathy Meyers sponsored by Vectren to work part time in Hendricks County; and, Andrea Steed and Mike Wilson from Eli Lilly and Company.
- Helene Cross has announced her retirement after nearly 12 years as president & CEO of Fairbanks. Mark Monson, previously COO of Beaver Dam Community Hospitals in Wisconsin, is the new executive.
- Patti Ostler is overseeing operations at WellSpring with the resignation of Karen Burkley as executive director.