Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

2019-2020 Campaign Kick-Off Event

“Change begins with you. It begins with me. It begins with us,” Jim Sims, United Way of Monroe County 2019-2020 Campaign Cabinet Chair rallied support and inspired attendees during the Campaign Kick-Off event. 
At the September 12 luncheon, community members and volunteers representing a broad array of businesses, organizations, and non-profits gathered to connect and lend their support towards the mission of United Way. Speakers reinforced why United Way stands up to ensure families in Monroe, Owen, and Greene counties have opportunities and everyone can meet basic living needs. 
Kirsten Grønbjerg, Indiana University Distinguished Professor, Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and United Way Board President, welcomed the crowd of over 100 and reminded each person of the importance of their involvement. 
“Nearly one in three families in our community struggle to survive, live just above the poverty line, and do not qualify for federal assistance. They are what we call ALICE families: Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, but Employed. Another one in five live at or below the poverty line with low wages or only part-time jobs and facing many challenges. Add those together, that’s more than half the families in the communities we serve,” she said. 
Attendees were encouraged to think of the people in our community who turn their lives around because of the network of United Way member agencies. Efrat Feferman, United Way Executive Director, told the story of Amy and her son, Frankie, to explain this impact. 
“Amy is a home health aide and is raising 4-year-old Frankie on her own now. She loves helping older folks, but it is not enough to pay the bills now that Frankie’s dad has left. She started waiting tables on the weekends, when her mom can help with childcare. Tips are good, but it still isn’t quite enough. She’s making too much to qualify for food stamps. Things have been getting tough, and each day is a struggle to keep going. 
Amy recently reached out to us after a referral from a coworker. She is struggling financially, physically, and mentally; waking up scared, wondering when the bottom will fall out. She’s worrying about losing their house. She does not want to think about living with friends, or on a waiting list for a family shelter. She wants to know what help is available, though she can’t quite articulate what type of help she needs.  
This is where your support makes all the difference. This is just one story of hope, where United Way and its partners come together to support Amy and Frankie, and the one in three households like them, to keep them from losing their home, or worse, losing each other – to help them find temporary food supplies and other supports they need to get to a place of thriving. To quite literally change their lives for the better.” 
Three member agency representatives spoke in a panel discussion led by Feferman. The panel included William Morris, Attorney at Law at Indiana Legal Services; Kaitlin King, LCSW, Senior Clinical Therapist at Catholic Charities Bloomington; and Emily Pike, Executive Director of New Hope for Families.  
The panel discussed each member agency’s perspective about the issues their clients face, focusing on the specific impact on ALICE households like Amy and Frankie, and how the network of United Way agencies work together to provide individualized supports. 
“One of the really wonderful benefits of being a United Way member agency is that we have connections to all of these other United Way member agencies,” Pike said. “I would also be talking with Amy about other agencies that could help out.” 
She specifically mentioned Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard and Community Kitchen, places where Amy can go to get the resources she needs while lowering her spending. 
“At Catholic Charities Bloomington, if Amy or Frankie came in for services, we’d look at life stressors,” said King. “Anyone who has ever experienced any food scarcity or has worried about housing knows that’s what consumes your mind. It becomes almost an obsession because you can’t plan anything when these are the kinds of things going on. So, without the partnerships with these kinds of agencies, Amy’s not going to be able to do the kind of mental health care that she’s needing to be able to recover from her life experiences.” 
Morris then told a story of a man he had worked with who had lost his job at Goodwill due to issues he was facing. He refered him to Catholic Charities Bloomington where they were able to resolve those issues and help him reapply at Goodwill. 
“I think that this sort of dynamic takes place a lot more often than we’re able to see, where agencies are working together to solve people’s problems,” he said. 
Sims concluded the luncheon by surprising the crowd with a Vanguard level contribution to United Way’s 2019-2020 campaign. 
“The people that we serve and the people that we ask to give, they need to know that we care,” Sims said. “They need to know that we respect them. They need to know that the United Way’s mission is to improve their lives.” 
Donations made to United Way remain local to support effective programs. United Way works with 24 member agencies and many other local partners. Each donation is vital – every dollar helps United Way and its member agencies and community partners fight to improve the lives of all residents, including those who are most vulnerable. To see how donations are hard at work throughout the year, visit 
For information about how you can get involved or start a campaign at your workplace, contact Sherrie Shuler, Resource Development Director at sherrie (at)  
United Way of Monroe County is a nonprofit organization that improves people’s lives by addressing critical needs today and working to reduce those needs tomorrow. Through its Community Action Fund and grant initiatives, United Way works with 24 member agencies and community partners to ensure everyone has opportunities and can meet basic living needs. For more information, visit   
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