By: Amanda Price—
Muncie, IN – With live music in the heart of downtown Muncie, United Way of Delaware County’s first community block party—celebrating the organization’s 2017 Campaign Kick-Off—brought together hundreds of families, volunteers, and dignitaries Thursday evening.
With a campaign theme to Identify the Obstacles, Take on the Impossible, and Conquer Generational Poverty in Delaware County, United Way leaders announced a $1.2 million fundraising goal for the 2017 campaign.
“It was fitting to launch the most important phase of our 2017 campaign surrounded by the growing numbers of people who support us, the people we serve, and those who are learning about the impact of United Way for the very first time,” said Casey Stanley, chair of the 2017 United Way of Delaware County Campaign.
The Kick-Off, celebrated in past years with an early morning breakfast prior to Day of Action, took a decidedly generational shift this year, designed to introduce United Way to a broader demographic of the community. Live music was performed by the Bahama Llama Band, featuring special guests Carl Storie, Cook and Belle, and Jennifer Stanley.
The overarching goal of United Way’s campaign, emphasized at Kick-Off, is to address generational poverty by focusing on childhood literacy. The mission is to end generational poverty first by bringing all third-graders in Delaware County up to grade-level reading standards by 2024—a pivotal indicator of a child’s success in school and life.
Nearly half of the households in Delaware County are either living in poverty or are one unplanned financial crisis away from it. This year’s campaign will enable local nonprofits to strategically provide resources to those working families who need help now, while focusing on a long-term plan to change the trajectory of this county.
“For families fighting to keep their heads above water and make a better life for their children, high-quality childcare and preventative healthcare may seem like costly services that are far out of reach,” said Stanley. “That’s where United Way and its community partners come in.”
In Indiana, more than a half million households live just above the poverty line but below the ALICE—Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed—threshold, which accounts for the basic costs of living. Combined, ALICE and poverty households account for nearly one in four households in Indiana. In Delaware County, nearly half the households are ALICE families or are living below the poverty line.
“There’s no way to overstate the need our community faces,” said Jenni Marsh, President and CEO of United Way of Delaware County. “Our goal must be bold and must be met in order to provide essential services to these families.”
Earlier on Thursday, 585 Day of Action volunteers served at nearly 20 area nonprofits, five local parks, and throughout Muncie Community Schools, highlighting the important work United Way makes possible by supporting these partners. Two hundred volunteers from Ball State University worked at Cardinal Greenway, helped build Little Free Libraries, collected books, and created literacy kits for United Way’s grade-level reading initiative. In total, volunteers made an economic impact of $43,533.60 in Delaware County.
Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns began his upcoming installation ceremony by joining in Thursday’s Day of Action and Campaign Kick-Off. Mearns, who has pledged Ball State’s support of United Way throughout the campaign, believes that the university and the city are inextricably linked.
“I think that we have a moral obligation to enhance our commitment to Muncie,” said Mearns. “That obligation derives from a simple principle: because we cannot repay those who have nurtured and supported our development, we should pay it forward—to our neighbors and to the next generation.”
Ball State Trustee and United Way Worldwide CEO Brian Gallagher spoke on his personal relationship with United Way of Delaware County, Ball State University, and the city of Muncie.
“What you do for United Way in this community is create a set of hands that lift people up who you’ll never know,” said Gallagher. “If it weren’t for the community, nonprofits, public sector leaders, and the academics who never knew me, but supported the work that supported me, I wouldn’t be here today.”
To learn more about the hardworking families impacted by United Way of Delaware County’s 2017 campaign, visit www.InvitedToLiveUnited.org/campaign.
About United Way of Delaware County
United Way of Delaware County, Indiana engages the community to improve lives by focusing resources on education, health, and financial stability. The nonprofit fights to create lasting change in community conditions. As the sponsoring organization for the community’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, United Way works to help children read at or above grade level by the end of their third-grade year. It is during this critical time that children transition from learning how to read, into readers who learn from what they have read. United Way strategically invests in local programs that provide services that contribute to children’s success with reading and ultimately aim to end generational poverty in Delaware County. Learn more at www.InvitedToLiveUnited.org.