United Way surpasses its goal

Written on 03/22/2024
Patrick Munsey

This article is brought to you by Moore's Home Health and Medical Supply. For more than 68 years, Moore's Home Health has been Howard County's leading provider of assistive and adaptive ​home medical equipment and supplies. Call 765-454-5210 or visit Moore's at 608 W. Markland Ave. to let them help meet your healthcare needs!

When Paul Wyman agreed to chair the annual fundraising campaign for the United Way serving Howard and Tipton Counties, he placed a silicone band on his wrist. The band, an unassuming piece of United Way swag, had the word “ADVOCATE” stamped into it.

The simple word kept him motivated, as he thought about the volunteers who returned to the charity and the businesses and organizations that agreed to resume their donations. It gave him his mission as he went out to speak about the many organizations that will benefit from the giving. And he wasn’t disappointed.

The response from the community exceeded all expectations, and on March 14 the United Way announced that it had raised $1,219,322.56 – well above the $1 million goal that seemed so daunting in November when it was announced.

“The community has risen up,” said Wyman. “And they have delivered in big, big ways during this campaign. It is truly my honor to tell you not only that the United Way reached its campaign goal; it exceeded it by 20 percent.

“Many thought is a $1 million goal out of the gate was a big number, when you look at how the last couple of years went. We blew that number out of the water, and it sets the stage for many bigger things to come.”

A nearly full house at The Hobson downtown listened as United Way leaders expressed thanks to the volunteers, donors, and staff members involved in reaching the funding goal. But several of them were in attendance for an added reason. The United Way immediately made good on its promise of renewed support by awarding 13 grants to local agencies, amounting to $327,000.

A second round of grants will be awarded in the summer, and a third in the fall.

United Way CEO Dana Neer announced the recipients in the initial round:

* Westside Christian Church in Tipton for its Bags of Blessing program

* Kokomo Urban Outreach for its UP programs

* Turnabout Community Resources, to provide recovery support for those with addiction or suffering from a mental health crisis

* The Literacy Coalition of Howard County for its reading programs

* The Girl Scouts of Central Indiana

* The Family Service Association of Howard County for its domestic violence shelter

* The Howard County Food Alliance to educated on nutrition and maintain community gardens

* The Firefly Children and Family Alliance of Tipton for child abuse prevention and home-based services

* The Carver Community Center for after-school tutoring

* Coordinated Assistance Ministries to aid in transportation for clients

* Boy Scouts of America Sagamore Council

* The Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services

* Alternatives Inc. of Tipton County

The awards meant a lot for Allie Tomlinson, the United Way’s campaign and marketing director, who took the position in 2023 when the organization was just picking itself off the mat. Hitting the campaign goal was both vindication and confirmation.

“Truthfully, I wasn't sure how it was gonna go,” said Tomlinson. “But one of my favorite scriptures that I always lean on is Proverbs 3:5 – ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, not on your own understandings.’ I can stand here and just thank God, seeing how he's delivered our United Way.

“We wouldn't be able to do it without everyone in this room as well. So, whether you're a nonprofit agency that's giving back to our community each and every day through your work, or whether you're a donor, United Way staff, or just a volunteer, we appreciate you in all aspects.”

Mayor Tyler Moore was one of several community leaders who agreed to join the United Way board of directors as it rebuilt itself. He was elated to join in the celebration.

“When they started recruiting and rebuilding that board, and I saw the individuals who were on there and who was coming on staff, it was a no-brainer,” said Moore. “That were a lot of uncertainties. There were a lot of questions, but they pressed on behind the scenes.

“Even though the storms waged against them, and the community kind of wondered where it was gonna go, they pressed on until the sun came out again. So, it's an honor to be here to thank the staff and everybody who has contributed to United Way.”

Wyman closed out the evening celebrating the resilience and generosity of the community and promising more from the United Way.

“We've been through a lot,” said Wyman. “We've been through ebbs and flows in industry. We've been through tornadoes and floods, and a period of time in our community where the United Way wasn't where we all wanted the United Way to be.

“But as I've always seen time and time again, the community has risen up and has come back stronger every time. We took a setback and turned it into a comeback. That is what we're known for, and I could not be more proud.

“This train is going to keep on rolling. This United Way will get stronger every single day because of people like you in this room who live in our communities and who are willing to serve. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We leave here tonight with an incredible confidence that the United Way is back.”