Have a Heart for Giving

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Low-income families and individuals have their basic needs met

When Jessica came to Bridges, homeless, after her second stay at A Better Way, she had two children and one on the way. Thanks to United Way funding, Jessica’s Case Manager helped her pay for her GED. After giving birth, she enrolled at Ivy Tech, where she took classes to get her LPN license. While at school, Bridges helped Jessica with childcare and made sure her kids were doing well in school. After getting her license, Jessica got a job at Open Door Health Clinic, and eventually at a doctor’s office. “Because Bridges gave me the hand up, and support when I really needed it, I now am married, living in Washington DC, have another child and am working at a hospital.”

Read all of the Stories Below

+ Children enter school ready to succeed (click to read stories)

United Day Care — United Way support made it possible for United Day Care Center to receive an Early Education Matching Grant from the State of Indiana. United Way funds provided the 50% match required for five at-risk children to attend a quality early childhood education program the year prior to entering kindergarten. These five children are all from families with incomes below the poverty line. What all of these children have in common is that the most stable part of their lives is the daily routine of coming to “school” with people who care and help each child develop his or her full potential, so they will be ready to enter kindergarten and be successful in school and in life.

Huffer Memorial Children’s Center — A foster parent came into the center to find help. She was caring for a little girl who was four years of age and needed special education services, as well as quality child care. The foster mother had gone to three other child care centers that told her they couldn’t help. As a single parent, she was raising a grandchild, foster parenting a child with special needs, and working a full-time minimum-wage job. She received no child care vouchers but was put onto the waiting list. Huffer was able to get this child on the United Way-subsidized sliding fee scale, which reduced the overall burden of the childcare costs. Huffer connected the family with the Delaware County Special Education Cooperative. There, the child received services at no cost to the family for the morning portion of her child care. This left the foster mom only the reduced costs for the afternoon child care while she worked. This was the only way this child could maintain placement with this family. Within a six-month period, the child had been through four different foster homes. The very exciting news is that this child is now going through the adoption process with this foster family, and the foster parent was able to maintain employment the entire time!

+ Children and youth achieve academic goals

A Better Way AOK Program — Thanks to donor support, United Way funds A Better Way’s AOK program at Southside Middle School. The agency is partnering with the Muncie Animal Shelter's "Dog Tails" program. The Muncie Animal Shelter sends trained shelter dogs along with a staff person every Tuesday to our Southside AOK site, so our students have a chance to read one-on-one with the shelter dogs for about 10 to 15 minutes. The students often feel more comfortable reading to the dogs rather than to adults, and students always love to pet the dogs. It has been a rewarding experience. One student in particular has benefited from the AOK-Animal Shelter partnership. She wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. So every Tuesday during AOK, she has been in heaven reading to the dogs. She approached the AOK staff to see if she could learn more about opportunities to volunteer at the Animal Shelter. She got permission from her guardians, and the AOK staff helped her fill out the necessary volunteer paperwork to make it happen. She now volunteers at the Muncie Animal Shelter grooming cats and the other pets there. The student’s mother recently relayed that her daughter loves volunteering and is learning so much.

Boys and Girls Club of Muncie — Mark, a 3rd grader at East Washington Academy, had a major reading deficiency when he joined the Boys and Girls Club. Every day was a struggle to get Mark to sit down and read. On the days that he would read, it was nearly impossible for him to read at grade level. Because of United Way funding, the Boys & Girls Club was able to find Mark a reading tutor to hold hour-long, one-on-one reading sessions with him three days a week. Within a few months, Mark began to look forward to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays because he knew that he would have a reading session with his teacher on those days. By the end of the semester, Mark was reading full sentences in grade level-appropriate books. Through the Boys and Girls Club, persistence and dedication have made a positive impact on Mark’s future.

Motivate Our Minds — When Chelsea was in the fifth grade, her Motivate Our Minds teacher, Ms. Rosanne, recommended her for the MOMs Pathways to Success program. The Pathways to Success program, funded by United Way, is designed to encourage first generation college students to set college as a goal. Chelsea stood out as a student and understood the importance of earning a good education. In recognition of her efforts, Pathways to Success mentors chose Chelsea to present the student graduation ceremony speech. Within her speech, Chelsea applied her learning and challenged the audience by stating that in order to be successful, one must make a life plan, work hard, and be persistent. She told the audience, “I have learned so many things from Motivate Our Minds. I have learned who I want to be: It is ME. I have broadened my horizons and career choices. I now am looking at possibly being a policewoman, teacher, or doctor.” She continues to be a high-achieving student who strives for excellence. It is because of her experiences at MOMs that we can look forward to Chelsea becoming a future leader in our community.

Muncie P3 — When Martin started as a kindergartener in the MP3 program, he rarely spoke. When he did, no one could understand him. During the first few weeks of the program, he sat quietly, listening, but not participating or smiling. He was extremely shy and hesitant to interact with other children and adults. His scores on initial academic assessments indicated a need for intensive intervention. Throughout his kindergarten year, we began to see Martin “come out of his shell.” He began to smile and interact with other children and, while still behind academically, teachers could see growth. By the end of third grade, Martin was unrecognizable as the shy, hesitant boy who entered the program. He is now a leader among his classmates and has made tremendous growth academically. He has progressed the most of any student in the program – academically and socially. Martin’s mother, a single mom with two children, has been a “model” parent in her true partnership and commitment to her son and the program. Martin and his mother exemplify the purpose of MP3 – a true partnership with families and the school to support children’s academic and character growth. Martin and his mother are truly one of the greatest success stories of MP3. United Way support makes the MP3 program possible.

Buley Center — Kaylee is a second grader at Longfellow Elementary. She was retained in the second grade because of her struggles in language and reading. She began the school year with a reading level equivalent to an end-of-the-year kindergartener. Longfellow recommended that Kaylee get involved with an after-school program that would support her academic needs. Her mother asked specifically for the Buley Center's after-school program. Because of funding from United Way, the Buley Center was able to find a tutor that specialized in the areas in which Kaylee needed to improve upon. The combined efforts of Longfellow Elementary, Kaylee's parents and the Buley Center have resulted in Kaylee being eager to learn, proud of her work and making better grades. She has experienced significant strides in language and reading and for the first time, Kaylee made the honor roll. She has a goal of staying on the honor roll for the remainder of the school year. She loves attending the Buley Center and talks constantly about the activities, friends and caring staff. The staff hopes that Kaylee will be ready for IREAD-3 when the time comes, and that she will pass with flying colors.

+ Children and youth are emotionally healthy and socially competent

Big Brothers Big Sisters — Little Brother Jake was enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters by his single mother because of his lack of a male role model in his family. She thought he needed a male to look up to and to mentor him. Jake was doing well in school but needed someone consistent to help him steer clear of unwise choices and help him work toward his future goals. He and his Big Brother, Grant, were matched this summer and have been having a great time together since. Because of United Way's support, they have been able to go fishing, play miniature golf, visit local businesses such as The Artist Within, and much more. Although they have only been matched for four months, Jake has already shown improved behavior at school. Jake’s mother says the experience has been nothing but positive, and she is grateful that Jake has expanded his support system. She says that enrolling Jake in the program has given him the opportunity to share and learn new things beyond her capabilities and has given him something to look forward to. Grant holds Jake accountable and helps keep him on track through positive encouragement. Jake’s mother is confident that the relationship between Jake and Grant is one that will be long-lasting and will help Jake grow into a successful man.

+ Young adults make a successful transition from high school to college/career

Project Leadership — Years ago, as a ninth grader at Muncie Southside High School, Devon was matched with a Project Leadership mentor named Marcus. United Way funding makes mentorship connections like this one possible. While Devon graduated from high school with a high GPA, his SAT scores were too low for him to be admitted to Ball State right away and he was put on the waiting list. Devon and Marcus discussed options, called Project Leadership for advice, and created a plan that would improve Devon’s chances of acceptance. Devon was eventually able to attend Ball State as a Computer Science major and absolutely loves it. He admits that he has struggled his first semester. "It’s different from high school," he explains. “In high school you just had to do what was needed to get points. There was a lot of fluff – assignments, extra credit, and participation points – that allowed anyone who really wanted good grades to get them,” he says. “I didn’t need to do a lot of studying. In college, however, you have to have a deep and thorough understanding of the material. I’ve wanted to quit, but I know I just have to keep working. I won’t earn the good grades I’m used to this semester, but I’m optimistic that next semester will be better.” When talking about his mentor, Devon explains that Marcus’ rock solid support is invaluable. He says of his mentor: “He is a great person! He provided a straight line for me to follow and supported me when I needed it most. Having him come for lunch each week and being able to talk things over with him was the greatest thing for me!”

+ Low-income families and individuals have their basic needs met

YWCA — “I used to be a liar. I used to be conniving. I used to be a thief,” Rebecca describes the rocky past she had before coming to the YWCA. After burning too many bridges to continue couch surfing, Rebecca sought emergency shelter at the YWCA, a program funded by United Way. When she first arrived, the residential director initiated a series of case-management meetings to help Rebecca set her goals. “I set the goal to take classes at Work One. I set a goal to start fitness classes. I set a goal to get health insurance and see a doctor.” It didn’t take long for Rebecca to reach all of her goals. She finished her classes at Work One, passed the exams, and started exercising at the YWCA. Rebecca obtained health insurance and made appointments for routine care. “I can go to the doctor. I can go to a dentist. I can get my medicine now so my blood pressure won’t be through the roof. I felt a sense of accomplishment because I got all those goals done. Everything I wanted to do, I did.” After those quick wins, Rebecca was motivated to set her goals higher. “I’ve set a goal to get my CNA license in the next month. I also made a plan to see a therapist for my mental health.” Staying at the YWCA, was an adjustment for Rebecca. Before living at the YWCA, she preferred to hang out with friends. “We just chilled. And it was always, we’ll do that the next day, and the next day never came.” Living at the YWCA changed Rebecca’s mentality. “I told myself that if I was accepted here, I would stay here long enough to get myself better. I had to realize that the world didn’t revolve around me; even though I want it to, it doesn’t. It wasn’t easy. It was actually kind of hard. But it has to be hard. If they didn’t stay on you, nobody living at the YWCA would do what they need to do to reach their goals. I just think it’s a good place to be. The YWCA has helped me get so much accomplished.”

Bridges Community Services — When Jessica came to Bridges, homeless, after her second stay at A Better Way, she had two children and one on the way. Thanks to United Way funding, Jessica’s Case Manager helped her pay for her GED. After giving birth, she enrolled at Ivy Tech, where she took classes to get her LPN license. While at school, Bridges helped Jessica with childcare and made sure her kids were doing well in school. After getting her license, Jessica got a job at Open Door Health Clinic, and eventually at a doctor’s office. “Because Bridges gave me the hand up, and support when I really needed it, I now am married, living in Washington DC, have another child and am working at a hospital.”

Salvation Army — There were many challenges in Stephen’s life, but a strong spirit enabled him to conquer them all. That is until he landed on hard times ending with no home, no gas, and with no food for more than five days. With nowhere to turn, he called United Way’s 211 line to find assistance. Stephen was connected to The Salvation Army, a funded partner of United Way. Lt. Mary Robbins recalls, “Stephen was in despair, and was having trouble finding his way in life, I knew we had to help him.” Since Stephen had no way to access the pantry, she put together a grocery order and delivered it to him. Food and a smile were just the beginning of Stephen’s relationship with The Salvation Army. With the absolute basics addressed, Lt. Robbins was able to assess his needs fully. Without transport, he wasn’t able to access resources available in the community. The Salvation Army was able to help with gas and continued to support him with food. Then, Stephen began volunteering with The Salvation Army, helping others in need. He then decided that without a local home, and no family or friends outside the The Salvation Army, he would be better off moving out of the area and making a fresh start. Lt. Robbins was able to help Stephen access a shelter, which also helped him with job skills. He is now steadily employed, and enjoying a stable, healthy and sufficient life. The Salvation Army was able to help meet Stephen’s basic needs in the short-term, which provided the foundation from which Stephen was able to begin putting his life back together. Stephen was then connected to the long-term resources he needed in order to improve his skills and reenter the workforce.

Second Harvest Food Bank — Last summer, an elderly gentleman named John attended the Delaware County tailgate, a food assistance program funded in part by United Way. He approached us and said he did not know what he would do without Second Harvest Food Bank. His speech was slurred as he told us his appreciative story about the food he was receiving. John started to tell us about his life and how he had a stroke, then lost his job and health care insurance. He confessed that he felt so ashamed because for years he had a good job and, when he would go by the Tailgate or food pantries and see people in line, he would say to his friends or to anyone who would listen, “All they have to do is get a job!” He thought they were lazy. “Now I know differently. Bad things can happen to people who try to work and do the right thing. I never thought something like this would ever happen to me!”

+ Low-income families and individuals build and/or maintain savings and assets

PathStone — After many years of renting, Caroline, a senior resident, decided to purchase her own home. She looked at many houses until she finally found the one that she wanted to call home. Following her new purchase, Caroline took advantage of the many United Way-funded homeownership education and counseling services PathStone offers. She started with a class to help her budget on a fixed income, so that she would be able to purchase the home of her dreams. Rose was approved for a mortgage and received down payment and closing cost assistance through PathStone’s various community partnerships. At long last, Caroline closed on her home and enjoyed the holiday season for the first time in a home of her own. When asked to share why she wanted to purchase a home, Caroline simply replied, “I just wanted to have a home that is mine.”

HomeSavers of Delaware County — Last winter, Home Savers received a phone call from a Joan, a retired woman in Delaware County who was bringing her husband home from the hospital. The problem was that their furnace would not stay on. Not only were they cold, but there was the danger that their water pipes would freeze and break. Our Executive Director arranged for a heating company to visit the home and repair the furnace. Joan also had difficulty getting her husband out of the house for doctor appointments, and they needed a ramp from the front door to the driveway. In the spring, as soon as the weather was warm, Ball State students came to their house on a Saturday to build the ramp. Because of United Way of Delaware County funds, HomeSavers could pay for both the furnace repair and the ramp building materials.

+ Families and individuals have access to health care coverage and services

Cancer Services Little Red Door of ECI — Success for our cancer clients does not always mean a cure. In these cases, thanks to United Way funding, our agency provides services and supplies that promote our clients’ dignity and comfort regardless of life expectancy. Such is the case of Diana, a client with a particular cancer. She and her family knew that she would not be cured, even with treatment. During her year as our client, we were able to provide her with gas assistance for appointments, wigs, and nutritional supplements. She was receiving nutrition through a feeding tube, and we were able to provide the nutrition and supplies she needed until her insurance began paying for it. In her final days, we assisted Diana with comfort and convenience items to assist with care. Because of Cancer Services, Diana was able to both meet her basic needs and establish comfort.

Open Door Health Services — A newborn screening recently came back as positive for cystic fibrosis and the infant needed to be rescreened, a test that has to be done by Riley. The pediatric nurse contacted the mom to schedule the test and then followed up with Riley the day after the appointment was scheduled, finding out that the child had not shown up for the appointment. It turned out that the family did not have transportation to Riley for the appointment. The nurse worked with the patient’s insurance company to schedule free transportation and rescheduled the appointment for the patient so that the infant could have the retesting completed. United Way support makes this kind of assistance possible.

+ Families and individuals are healthy and avoid risky behaviors

A Better Way — Several years ago, Tara, along with her four kids at the time, came to A Better Way, a partner agency supported by United Way. They came in the spring with nothing more than a diaper bag, her purse, and the clothes on their backs. Tara’s children were all ages 6 and under. A Better Way helped Tara’s family through meetings, counseling, and more. Over the past several years, a lot has changed for Tara. She is now divorced from her abuser, remarried, has 5 amazing children, and has gotten past most of the effects of her almost 13 years of abuse. Tara wants to share the following message for those who may be in a similar situation that she was once in: “I want to tell you that one day you will completely heal…but that is a lie. A part of you will always bear the scars of your past. What I can say is that it does get better. I know it is very hard right now, but, with God and time, you will heal. The thing I found helped me was to tell myself over and over that I didn’t need a man to feel happy. I know each of you has a past…everyone does. Don’t be defined by it, though. Pave a way to a better future. Surround yourselves with people who build you up, not tear you down. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know the struggle. I pray every day for the violence to end.”

+ Seniors and persons with disabilities are able to remain independent

Alpha Center — Because of sudden onset of macular degeneration in 2007, which severely affected her eyesight, Gloria was forced to retire after 41 years as a local grocery store clerk. As a store clerk, Gloria knew each customer by name and took a personal interest in their life, always making time to listen to their struggles and accomplishments. In the 1960’s, Gloria learned to survive independently as a working single mom of three children. The thought of losing this independence was difficult to accept as Gloria’s social activities would now be limited because of loss of driving and the inability to participate in activities that required sight. Becoming isolated and depressed with the unexpected adjustments in life is often the story of our clients as they age. Gloria recognized this lack of socialization in her life and the need for a positive outlet to experience purpose once again. Stepping into the role of caregiver, her daughter encouraged program participation at the Alpha Center so that Gloria would maintain a level of independence. Alpha Center programming is made possible by support from United Way of Delaware County. It will be nine years since Gloria began attending the Alpha Center once a week. She has declined mobility and cognitive skill in addition to the sight impairment caused by the effects of aging, and she now attends Alpha Center three times per week for continued social contact and stimulation. Gloria’s caregiver reports that “without Alpha Center, Mom would not have been able to continue living in her home. She definitely has benefited from the socialization and stimulation offered.”

LifeStream Services — Many of us take for granted how much of a blessing it is to have safe and reliable transportation. We get in our cars in the morning, walk to the bus stop, or carpool with friends without a second thought because it’s our routine. However, there are many people in our community who do not have the ability to drive any longer, the energy to walk to the bus stop, or friends with whom to carpool. What happens to these people? How do they make it to appointments, the grocery store, the mall, or anywhere in general? Often, this task of finding a ride is given to a caregiver. To caregivers like Lisa, LifeStream’s transportation vans, funded in part by United Way, are a true blessing. Lisa’s mother is 87 years old and legally blind. Her mother’s health and well-being are top priorities for her, but she also has her own life to lead. Lisa is employed full time and is an only child. If it weren’t for LifeStream, caring for her mother would become a full time job. Whenever an errand must be run or a doctor’s appointment is scheduled, all Lisa has to do is call LifeStream. The transportation drivers treat Lisa’s mother as if she were their own. They come to her mother’s door and help her on and off the bus, ensuring that she is safe at all times. “It has truly been a blessing to me. Without LifeStream’s transportation, I would have to quit my job and care for my mother full time or my mother would be totally home bound. So thank you LifeStream and all of the drivers and personnel who take my calls. I can’t say enough nice things about you guys!”

*All names have been changed for privacy