United Way of Delaware and Henry Counties is increasing its funding of Delaware County programs by 15 percent thanks to hugely successful campaigns the last two years, and new programs that focus on improving grade-level reading and programs that address barriers toward that goal.
1) How would you describe our nonprofit to someone new?
United Way helped connect my group of volunteers with the needs of the community.Their staff was supportive and helpful. United Way teams up with community partners to make our community a better place to live.
2) What inspired you to volunteer?
My group wanted to better understand the Muncie community through giving, learning, and connecting with people across the community.
3) What is your “why” for volunteering over spring break?
As Christians, we believe in Jesus’ example of service and love. As members of a Ball State campus church (The Revolution Campus Church), the goal of our annual Muncie Spring Break Experience is twofold: 1). to expose a group of Ball State students to the Muncie community and 2). to give back and support our community. We believe it is extremely important for Ball State students to engage with the Muncie community and learn what it looks like to live out their faith values in a community setting.
4) What is a memorable moment about the work you did for us?
Denise reached out to a couple of groups in town and connected me with Jacquie over at the Ross Center. We spent two days tutoring and playing with children at the Ross Center. One of our college volunteers was playing a friendly yet competitive game of one-on-one basketball with a second grade boy named Hunter. Everyone in the gym was chanting, “Hunter! Hunter!” as he went for the winning point and scored! Hunter looked around at the faces of his cheering peers and volunteers, all cheering for him. With a look of accomplishment and pride spreading unashamedly across his face, I know we made a difference in Hunter’s life that night just by being there and communicating that we believe in him and that he is special.
5) What is something of value that you learned or were able to take away from this program that has helped you in your life or work?
Volunteering with United Way taught my group of students that making a difference isn’t difficult or complicated. Stocking the Little Free Libraries, learning demolition skills at a Habitat For Humanity worksite, and engaging with neighborhood children is mostly about being available and being present.
6) What would you pass along to your friends or fellow students?
If you’re interested in making an impact, reach out to United Way and they will be happy to connect you with great opportunities to volunteer.
7) Tell me something that surprised you during your experience?
I was surprised how much of an encouragement our group was to the leaders of the organizations we served with. I felt that our presence significantly encouraged Missy at BY5, Jacquie at the Ross Center, and Diann at Habitat For Humanity. I knew our volunteer efforts would make a difference on the various recipients of our work as well as impact our students, but I didn’t expect the impact that we had on the leaders in the organizations we served with. The Ross Center was missing their usual Ball State volunteers. We were able to not only fill in the gap over Spring Break but we also were able to help Jacquie remember that the work she does is incredible and that the community is here to support her.
8) Explain the benefits of spending your spring break as a volunteer?
Volunteering over Spring Break gave our group a richer understanding of the people who form our community and they roles they play. It’s because of these key community members that Muncie is truly a home to those that live here, whether for a semester or a lifetime. We made lasting connections with each other and with the people we served. Giving back feels great. Spring Break is a time where most people try and escape to go elsewhere but it’s amazing how much there is to learn just by looking around your own backyard. Spending the week volunteering through United Way and engaging in our community through local restaurants, cultural activities, and dinners in community members’ homes allowed us to experience Muncie as if we were tourists discovering our own beautiful city.