Centraide launches its annual campaign with a day of service

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In the space of a few hours, a year’s worth of work was accomplished.

Inside the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson County, volunteers teamed up to meet a list of facility needs. They touched up white paint throughout the club’s gymnasium and helped clean up offices and storage areas around the complex.

People pulled weeds, removed dead plants and dug up unruly saplings. To help the club get into a festive mood, they helped hang Halloween decorations.

The Boys and Girls Club’s limited staff don’t have the time to do that work in addition to the day-to-day responsibilities of working with local youth, said Natalie Fellure, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson County. This made the efforts of the volunteers invaluable.

“When you get almost 40 people in such a big place, it’s huge,” she said. “We have five full-time employees, so having people do touch-up paint in the gym or move things around for us is a big help.”

The volunteers were part of a county-wide community service campaign, in an effort dubbed the Day of Caring. More than 250 people from 29 organizations and businesses came together to help United Way of Johnson County kick off its 2022-23 campaign on Wednesday.

They’ve spread mulch and pulled weeds, painted offices, moved furniture, installed fences, built playground equipment, and done a myriad of other work at nonprofits and county agencies. .

While many of the organizations it supports are still struggling, Centraide relies on the generosity of donors and the community as a whole to achieve its goal.

“Over the past two years, funding from our donors has been more evident than ever, because for so many of our agencies, donor money, United Way stipends to them, was the only money we could get. they were getting during COVID,” said Nancy Lohr Plake, executive director of United Way of Johnson County. “COVID has helped a lot of people realize that their donor money is the foundation and constant of these agencies.”

Day of Caring has helped reinvigorate United Way’s annual campaign for the past 26 years. Support businesses across the county provide volunteers to do the work. The service not only helps agencies under the United Way umbrella, but also provides an easy way for employees to give to their neighbors in a meaningful way, Plake said.

“As Americans, we want to give back to our communities, and for some people, they don’t always know how to do that. It’s a way for them to get actively involved in their community and make a connection to continue volunteering,” she said.

To start the day, United Way brought supporters and volunteers together for breakfast and an energetic morning program. Before adjourning to go to their respective assignments, participants got a first look at the fundraising goal for this year’s campaign: $1.5 million. Last year, Centraide raised over $1.4 million.

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 throughout Johnson County, among others. in need. United Way funds 17 health and social service agencies and eight direct programs across the county, which would be unable to provide services without this funding.

The Day of Caring helps highlight the role these groups play in the community.

“It’s important to have this event to connect donors and potential donors and businesses and organizations to our partner agencies and to give those people the opportunity to see where and what their money is going for,” Plake said.

After the launch program, people moved on to their assigned volunteer jobs across the county.

Volunteers sealed, painted and landscaped the driveway at the Boy Scouts’ Camp Belzer in Indianapolis. The White River Township Fire Department has completed landscaping and installed fencing at Firefly Children and Family Alliance.

A group of Cummins helped pressure clean the Ninewa area senior center.

At the United Way offices, volunteers from the Franklin Rotary Club, Grace United Methodist Church and a group of retired female teachers from Greenwood Middle School known as Girls Gone Wild helped with everything from window cleaning from waxing floors to filling envelopes.

“The motto of the Rotary Club is ‘serve before self,’ so this was an opportunity that presented itself to the club, and many of us jumped on it because we could,” said Peter Jessen, member of the Rotary Club. Franklin Rotary Club. “A lot of hands do light work, so that’s one way to get things done.”

For the retired teachers of Girls Gone Wild, Day of Caring was an opportunity to help their community.

“We want to help schools and everything that United Way supports,” said Lhea Hesler. “I was a counselor in Greenwood, and (United Way) always helped schools and kids, things like Coats for Kids, so we relied on them for that.”

The Boys and Girls Club was one of the largest missions, with 33 volunteers from Mutual Savings Bank, First Merchants Bank and Honey Grove Educational Services.

Being able to volunteer their time was very important, both to help the community in which they work and to raise awareness of United Way’s impact throughout the county.

“We are happy to see all that can be done to help our community thrive, and Day of Caring is a great way to be a part of that,” said Mutual Savings Bank volunteer Tricia Bechman. “It’s great to come and help local organizations with projects that they have to put aside for days like this, because they are very busy during the year. They need bands to come in and do massive projects like this.

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