United Way tops campaign goal

Tribune Staff Reports

The Jackson County United Way’s 2016 fundraising campaign ended more than $15,000 above the $810,000 goal.

On Sunday, the organization’s leaders and others involved in the 2016 campaign, which raised $825,724, celebrated during a program at the Knights of Columbus in downtown Seymour.

The talk, however, quickly turned to making this year’s campaign even more successful, especially as the organization also is celebrating its 55th year of existence.

This past year’s campaign, led by Mary Ellen Jaynes of Seymour, was “2016 Growing Together: From Roots to Results.”

Jaynes said the campaign had a very strong start due to the employees of Blue and Co. and the schools of Jackson County.

“I tell you, these employees get it,” she said. “They are part of the movement before Day 1 of the campaign, and we thank them. 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.”

Rick and Jennifer Meyer of Seymour will co-chair this year’s campaign. The theme for that campaign and a goal have yet to be announced.

Rick Meyer, an officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, said Jaynes did an excellent job with the 2016 campaign, and he and his wife are excited about this year’s effort.

“As a police officer, I already deal with a lot of the agencies, and as a schoolteacher, my wife deals with some, too,” he said.

He said United Way has an important place in the community, and planning for each campaign is an ongoing process.

Board President Talmadge Reasoner talked about the organization’s shift from the traditional way of doing business that began in March 2016.

“We’ve been listening and learning from residents of all walks of life throughout the county in order to turn outward in our decision-making processes,” he said. “Through over 25 conversations, we’ve learned a lot about what our community hopes for, is concerned about and what action steps they’d like to see happen.”

He said some of the concerns the board has heard from county residents include how language barriers and poverty create unequal access to community building and success.

“People want residents from the community to feel pride in where they are from,” Reasoner said.

He said many are concerned there are not enough resources to help those with addictions so less babies are born with addictions and fewer students die from drug use.

Reasoner said there also are concerns about the need for more support for mental health services in the community.

He said people in the community have said they want to see clear goals, objectives and a timeline identified, and they also want to see strong partnerships for working together and the growing opportunity for individual volunteerism for everyone, including youth.

“People said that they want to see a community that helps each other,” he said. “People want more opportunities to gather together. We’d love to hear if this resonates with you. We’d also love to hear what you think about the next steps. This new work will help us determine if our current programming is effective and meeting the needs of our community.”

Reasoner also introduced the United Way staff, which includes executive director Tonja Couch, resource development director Sean Hildreth, program manager Bonita Dobbs and administrative assistant Marianne Willacker.

At a glance

Jackson County United Way presented awards during its annual meeting Sunday at the Knights of Columbus in downtown Seymour.

Community Spirit Award: The local artists who painted the county’s six 5-foot-tall fiberglass bison for the Bison-tennial Public Art Project. They include Kay Fox and Nick Walden (Medora bison); Max Koop (Fort Vallonia bison); Robb Reynolds (courthouse bison); Jerry Brown (Jackson County History Center bison); Darnell Dukes (Jackson County History Center bison); and Kay Fox (Chateau de Pique bison). Doug Ray, who helped haul the bison around the county and to the state fair, also was recognized.

Community Service Award: Cummins Inc.

Education Volunteer of the Year: Justin Brown

Health Volunteer of the Year: The Christmas Meal Team

Financial Stability Volunteers of the Year: Jennifer Harris and Crystal Brown

JACSY Award: Dave Geis

Rising Star Award: Rick Meyer

Power of We Award: 20th annual Day of Caring planning committee

Most Improved Campaign: Valeo North America Inc.

1 percent of campaign: Dicksons Inc., Home Products International, County of Jackson, MainSource Bank, PD Pharmatech, Jackson County Public Library

Above and Beyond: Seymour High School’s Jobs for America’s Graduates program, Robin Perry, Tami Fields, AVI Food Systems Inc., Doug Ray

Top 10 company campaigns: 1. Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals Inc.; 2. Aisin Group; 3. Cummins Inc.; 4. Valeo North America Inc; 5. Schneck Medical Center; 6. Seymour Community Schools; 7. Seymour Tubing; 8. JCB; 9. Blue and Co. LLC; 10. Walmart

Outgoing board members: Ann Cooper, Ryota Fukunishi, Tiffany Le

New board members: Lee Ann Borden, Jill Miller, David Stagnolia

At a glance

Jackson County United Way partner agencies

American Red Cross

Anchor House

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

Turning Point