A late push that included plenty of hard work, community support and teamwork helped Jackson County United Way’s 2019-20 annual campaign raise $788,407.
Drive co-chairman Nate Tormoehlen made that announcement during the organization’s annual meeting Monday night at the Knights of Columbus in downtown Seymour.
Tormoehlen said the total was 93% of the $850,000 campaign goal.
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Just three short weeks ago, however, the campaign dubbed “Together Everyone Achieves More” was more than $200,000 short of goal.
Nate’s wife, Ann Tormoehlen, who served as drive co-chairwoman, said funds raised during the campaign are invested back into the community to provide services for three out of four Jackson County residents.
She said the addition of two new staff members, Engagement Director Emily Engelking and Development Director Maci Baurle, to the United Way helped the campaign take off.
“However, there have been some bumps along the way caused by a few factors,” she said. “We’re seeing a modification in how and why people give. Workplace campaigns have changed due to our industry leaders not being as closely tied to the community as well as the shifting of corporate interests.”
The meeting was not all money talk, however, as Engelking presented three awards.
The Power of We award went to the Brownstown Central High School Fellowship of Christian Athletes club, which was recognized for establishing the Shed for You community building in Brownstown. The shed, which is always open, is stocked with food and other items that can be taken by anyone with no questions.
The Volunteers of the Year award went to the members of Valeo Take 10, who give their time to such things as calling bingo at the Medora Senior Citizens Center and distributing food in Medora, Engelking said. Valeo Take 10 also recently completed a community service project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Developmental Services Inc. at Freeman Field in Seymour.
The JACSY award, given to a person who exemplifies service to the community, went to Kendra Zumhingst of Seymour.
Engelking said Zumhingst either volunteers extensively or has direct involvement in many organizations, including Double Down Outreach, and events, including Seymour Oktoberfest and the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour Youth Triathlon. Zumhingst was unable to attend the meeting.
Adam Jackson, president of the board in 2018 and 2019, thanked those in attendance for their leadership and work in the community.
Jackson was in turn thanked by Tonja Couch, United Way’s executive director, for his service, and she gave him credit for getting the board to approve a strategic plan and 10-year bold goal.
Couch then reviewed the organization’s 2019 activities, including helping to organize poverty simulations and a mayoral forum and upgrading the charity tracker system for partners working together to better serve their neighbors in need of assistance.
She said the United Way’s $606,139 investment from the 2018-19 campaign will directly impact an estimated 30,000 lives of county residents with various services, including emergency and crisis assistance, food security, ensuring access to mental and physical health needs, programs for the aging population, helping children and youth succeed and more.
Those funds were distributed for October 2019 to December 2020 in five general categories:
Financial stability: $99,250
Seniors and safety net services: $21,375
Agency allocations: $242,164
“Our board is focused on ensuring that we achieve collective impact with partners who work in coordination to drive community change,” Couch said. “JCUW cannot change community conditions unless we are more intentional about how we invest our resources, both time and money.”
Stephanie Strothmann, the Covering Kids and Families director, gave reports about the annual Day of Caring, which involved 1,605 volunteers and 197 projects; FamilyWize Community Service Partnership that has saved county residents $740,737 in prescription drug costs; the free income tax prep program that served 516 clients and helped them claim $372,595 in federal tax refunds; and the Rock’n Ready school supply assistance program that allowed 1,079 students to shop for free basic supplies.
Jeremy Myers, a board member and strategic plan committee member, said the committee met for months to discuss information compiled through community conversation reports and other sources to create a strategic plan to deliver on the actions county residents wanted to see.
During that process, the committee learned there are 16,517 households in the county and that 14% percent are living in poverty and another 285 are working but struggling to make ends meet, Myers said.
The board than made a “bold” decision in the fall of 2019 to move 1,000 families out of financial struggles and into stability by 2030.
He said the first year of that plan lays out eight new initiatives:
Begin a Financial Stability Vision Council
Bring back the JACSY contest
Continue to increase access to health coverage for vulnerable populations, prepare residents taxes to save money and provide basic schools supplies for students
Create a Safety Net Council
Engage youth in service and leadership development initiatives with Youth United
Improve neighbor-to-neighbor care with focused neighborhood cleanup as part of Day of Caring
Launch a Resource Roundup to connect people with basic needs and services
Promote and provide financial coaching and education
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Joining the Jackson County United Way board for three-year terms in 2020 are Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant; Aaron Floyd, assistant principal at Seymour-Redding Elementary School; and Carly Kaiser, a freshman at Seymour High School. Adam Disque, a teacher at Brownstown Elementary School, is joining the board for a two-year term.
Board members completing their terms of service also were introduced. They were Sara Welden (one year); Luke Turner and Susan Zabor (two years); Jill Miller (four years); Bill Bane and Heather Zickler (five years); and Jeff Hubbard, Nate Otte, a past president, and Greg Morin (six years).
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Top 10 United Way drive contributors, who raised $507,000
1) Cummins Inc.
2) Aisin Group
3) Schneck Medical Center
4) Lannett Co. Inc.
5) Seymour Community School Corp.
7) Nippon Steel Pipe America Inc.
8) Blue and Co.
9) Beatty Insurance
10) Valeo North America Inc.
Three companies, Walmart, Rose Acre Farms and Home Products International Inc., were recognized for their total campaign contribution being 1% of campaign goal, and Beatty Insurance was recognized for being the most improved campaign. That firm had an increase of 74% in its annual campaign contribution.