Centraide launches its campaign with Day of Caring
Stacks of boxes, shelves of food and pallets of other goods filled the Johnson County Senior Services warehouse.
The room was so crowded that it was difficult to see across the room, and getting around was a challenge. The items had to be rearranged to allow for a shelving project within the organization, a job that would take a lot of time and effort.
Fortunately, an army of volunteers from Mutual Savings Bank and Duke Energy was on hand to tackle it.
“We live and work here in Johnson County so it’s more than helping our customers. It’s helping our neighbors, our friends, our family members, ”said Jean Renk, Community Relations Manager for Duke Energy. “It’s our community. “
Their volunteer work and similar projects across the county marked the start of the most important time of the year for the Johnson County United Way. On Wednesday, 133 people from businesses in the area deployed across the county to complete service projects for agencies in the area as part of what has become Day of Caring.
Previously, Centraide launched its annual fundraising campaign, as more than 70 people gathered for an indoor picnic breakfast and rally.
The day was a symbolic start for United Way supporters who gave time to benefit the community before spending the coming months raising funds to help Johnson County’s most vulnerable residents.
“It’s a celebration of kicking off the biggest fundraising event in the county, and bringing people together to be recognized, as well as creating that enthusiasm to kick off the campaign,” said Nancy Lohr Plake, Executive Director of Centraide. Johnson County.
The din of plastic tap dancing echoed through Scott Hall as the energy level rose. People spread out on camp chairs and blankets throughout the room, applauding the work that United Way has done over the past 60 years, and recognizing what would be needed for the future.
Centraide leaders spoke to them about the importance their donations would have. Representatives from four local agencies – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Johnson County Girls Inc., Johnson County Senior Services and Children’s Bureau – explained what United Way support means for the people they serve.
“United Way has really exceeded expectations over the past 17 months to serve the agencies,” said Sonya Ware Maguiar, executive director of Girls Inc. of Johnson County. “The staff, as you all know if you work with them, are phenomenal people, very caring people who give sweat, blood and tears to this community to meet the needs of the people. “
Despite a rainy day that forced last minute location changes and other aspects of the morning’s schedule, the rain couldn’t dampen their excitement.
“Each year presents its own challenge and its own obstacles to raising enough dollars to support the good work of the Johnson County United Way, its many agencies and programs. As you know, this year has presented a set of truly unique challenges in all aspects of our lives, ”said Scott Powell, Johnson County United Way board member and chair of this year’s campaign. “This year, we need you more than ever to help us achieve our goal of supporting those in need in the community. “
Caring Day began 25 years ago, created to kick off the United Way’s annual campaign. The campaign is the lifeblood of the United Way, generating 94% of the money used for programs that support youth, seniors, those at risk of homelessness and local families across Johnson County, among others. in need.
A hindered pandemic in 2020 put a focus on the entire community, especially social service agencies that served those who had lost their jobs or needed extra help.
Centraide has changed its campaign and, through donations and support, raised over $ 1.4 million.
“We are very lucky that none of our supporting companies said ‘no’ last year,” Plake said.
With this year’s campaign, the Johnson County United Way has set a goal of $ 1,505,000 million to support 17 social service agencies and deliver eight direct service programs, benefiting more than 28,000 County residents. Johnson.
“For many of these agencies, we are the foundation of their agency,” Plake said. “It probably turned out to be even more so last year when a lot of them weren’t able to fundraise and also lost program money. “
Already, three local businesses have started their campaigns. Mutual Savings Bank has pledged $ 13,437, while Caterpillar Remanufacturing Franklin has a target of $ 65,000.
The Earlywood Educational Services team raised $ 8,228, up 47% from 2020.
Sufficiently inflated, the group broke up to move on to their service missions. Employees from 19 companies volunteered to do landscaping, paint buildings, organize offices and do other work for local social service agencies.
The rain postponed some of the projects, such as members of KYB Americas Corp. and First Financial Bank waiting to go to Camp Belzer in Lawrence to volunteer for the Boy Scouts. An Electro-Spec team had planned to help install playground equipment at Head Start. This too was postponed to a day with better times.
But a lot of work was still done.
Volunteers from Franklin Community Schools filled Girls Inc. to help paint their Franklin headquarters. United HealthCare helped Reach for Youth clean and paint. A group in the town of Greenwood used their muscles to organize the offices of the Social of Greenwood.
Some participants also took part in contactless projects. A group from Cummins Inc. helped call United Way volunteers to thank them for their time and effort. Horizon Bank thanked and appreciated the employees of Johnson Memorial Health for all they had done throughout the pandemic.
Duke Energy, which has completed various community service projects over the years, had nine employees from the Franklin and Shelbyville operations centers.
“It’s a great way to engage our employees in the community on pre-arranged projects that have an impact,” said Renk.
At the Children’s Office, City of Greenwood Human Resources employees Lisa Vest and Heather Kitchen filled resource bags with newspapers, resource guides and other items to donate to local Department of Services offices. to childhood. Other volunteers would assemble furniture and paint a visiting area for families and outpatients.
City workers Rob Kolb, the network administrator, and Jon Schrader, the Fieldhouse manager, carried car seats, backpacks and boxes, helping to rearrange and organize a pantry for agency clients. Adam Burnett, a member of the Greenwood Police Department, painted cabinets.
A number of participants had participated in the Day of Caring on several occasions. Being able to volunteer your time in your own community made it a priority every year.
“We wanted to do our part to help the community,” Kolb said.