Jackson County United Way has grown into an organization that does more than raise money to help other agencies supply much-needed services to the people of the county.
This past year, the organization pulled together more than 600 volunteers to work on 78 projects during the 19th annual Day of Caring; gave 750 children $12,000 in school supplies; prepared 238 tax returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program; and helped county residents save nearly $600,000 on prescription costs through the FamilyWize Community Service Partnership.
But in the end, the annual fundraising campaign is still the most vital part of United Way’s work, and the 2015 campaign brought in $807,900, or 105 percent of the $765,000 Team Up for Jacsy goal. The 2014 campaign raised $756,694.
The 2015 total was announced Sunday at the organization’s annual meeting at Seymour High School.
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Those funds will support the organization’s 20 partner agencies, which serve people of all ages throughout the county. The partner agencies include American Red Cross, The Arc of Jackson County, Boy Scouts of America Hoosier Trails Council, Girls Scouts of Kentuckiana, The Salvation Army and Turning Point.
“The campaign had a very strong start this year due to the Jackson County Public Library and the schools of Jackson County,” drive chairman Greg Prange said. “I’ll tell you, these library workers, teachers and administrators get it. They are part of the team, and we thank them.”
He said the 2015 drive team was full of enthusiasm and a great mix of old and new blood.
“From the start, we were able to ride the momentum into our business and industrial meetings to continue to share the importance of giving to United Way,” Prange said.
A litany of awards was presented during the hour-and-a-half-long event attended by more than 250 people, including Seymour High School’s cheerleaders and pep band that provided the entertainment.
Those awards ranged from the top 10 companies to volunteers of the year.
Employees of Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc. helped that company top the list of the top 10 companies by contributing $162,105, or 21 percent of goal.
Dylan Purlee, principal of Seymour-Redding Elementary School, received the Education Volunteer of the Year Award for his work with the Rock’n Ready school supply distribution program over the past three years, and Molly Marshall won the Health Volunteer of the Year Award for her efforts to encourage a healthier lifestyle for residents.
Julie Bradley received the Financial Stability Volunteer of the Year Award for her four years of work with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Sean Hildreth, Jackson County United Way’s resource development director, said education, health and financial stability are the three cornerstones of United Way’s mission.
Bill Abbott and Ron Duncan received the 2015 Jacsy Award, which is given to an individual or group that shows dedicated service to the community. The two men were responsible for organizing the 19th annual Day of Caring.
“For some people, volunteering is about giving, but for Bill and Ron, it is a way of living,” Hildreth said. “If the world becomes a better place tomorrow, it will happen because of people like them.”
Vicki Johnson-Poynter, vice president of nursing services and chief nursing officer at Schneck Medical Center, received an Above and Beyond Award for her efforts to ensure local police officers are equipped with Narcan kits to possibly save the lives of people who have overdosed.
Others receiving Above and Beyond Awards included Dr. Kenneth Bobb, who recently retired as the county’s public health officer, and Mike Weir, who recently retired as county building commissioner.
United Way executive director Tonja Couch said Bobb had provided great leadership to the community through his work at the health department.
“Dr. Bobb’s leadership was instrumental in bringing the Indiana Health Centers to Seymour,” she said. “The Community Health Center serves over 8,500 clients annually, people who wouldn’t have received primary care.”
Weir has been an active member of Day of Caring since its inception in 1996 and has always worked to ensure United Way leadership thinks about the whole county, including the outlying communities, such as Medora and Crothersville, Couch said.
In the past, the annual meeting has been conducted in a more formal setting. The move to a less formal annual meeting came about after the board revised the organization’s bylaws, Couch said after the meeting.
“So it didn’t have to be a formal setting with formal votes on new board members and our financials,” Couch said. “That work will happen at our February board meeting now.”
Couch said the goal with this year’s meeting was to provide a family-friendly atmosphere where people could come out and bring their children and just have some fun. That fun included a free throw shooting contest and an around the world shootout for teams from local businesses and industries.
“So that people could really celebrate the achievements of the year,” she said. “We have a lot to really be grateful for. We know raising funds is part of our mission. It’s not our only reason for existence, and so we wanted to make sure we also recognized all those volunteers and all those programs that are doing a lot of work in our community.”
The fundraising process never ends, and this year’s drive chairwoman, Mary Ellen Jaynes, is ready to get to work.
“We’ve started to talk about the campaign team, and we’re excited about some names we have come up with,” Jaynes said after the meeting. “So we have to make those contacts soon to see if they would be interested in it. And we are going to celebrate a big anniversary in a couple of years, so if we have some that leadership that helps this year, they get to help with the anniversary celebration.”
The United Way’s 55th birthday is in 2017.
Jaynes said the 2015 drive went well, although donations were down a little bit in some of the outlying areas of the county.
“But that’s OK. I think it comes back,” she said. “People choose to donate to different things every year.”
Jackson County United Way presented awards during its annual meeting Sunday in the gymnasium at Seymour High School.
Community Service Award: Aisin U.S.A. Mfg. Inc.
Education Volunteer of the Year: Dylan Purlee
Health Volunteer of the Year: Molly Marshall
Financial Stability Volunteer of the Year: Julie Bradley
Jacsy Award: Bill Abbott and Ron Duncan
Rising Star Award: P.J. Stein
Power of We Award: Republicans Hands On
Most Improved Campaign: Valeo North America Inc.
1 percent of campaign: Home Products International, Dicksons Inc., MainSource Bank, PD Pharmatech
Above and Beyond: Vicki Johnson-Poynter, Dr. Kenneth Bobb, Mike Weir, Leadership Jackson County 2015 Social Concerns Rock’n Ready Race Team
Top 10 company campaigns: 1. Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc.; 2. Aisin Group; 3. Cummins Inc.; 4. Valeo North America Inc.; 5. Seymour Community Schools; 6. Schneck Medical Center; 7. Seymour Tubing; 8. JCB; 9. Wal-Mart; 10. Blue and Co. LLC
Outgoing board members: Ben Reinhart, three years of service; Joe Bradley and Holly Sipe, six years of service
Jackson County United Way partner agencies
American Red Cross
The Arc of Jackson County
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana
Boys Scouts of America Hoosier Trails Council
Boys and Girls Club
Child Care Network
Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana
Girls Inc. of Jackson County
Human Services Inc.: Head Start
Meals on Wheels
Mental Health America of Jackson County
Read Jackson County and Plaza Latina
The Salvation Army
Senior citizens centers in Brownstown, Crothersville, Freetown, Medora and Seymour