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United Way continues to impact Hendricks County residents

Compiled by Rick Myers

Fresh off the United Way of Central Indiana’s annual luncheon June 5 in Indianapolis, we caught up with Aaron Gore, United Way of Central Indiana Central Indiana Northwest and West director, to discuss what’s new with United Way and other particulars about its 2019 campaign that will ramp up in late summer. For more information, contact Gore at (765) 483-0165.

  1. How long have you been with the United Way?

[Gore] Three amazing years, which seems to have moved too fast.

2. What are the newest programs the United Way offers?

[Gore] This is an exciting time for United Way of Central Indiana as we have adopted a new strategic framework focused to move families out of poverty using a two generation approach that supports the human services safety net and spurs innovation in the human services sector.

To accomplish this, we have introduced three impact funds: Basic Needs provides essentials to help those in need to survive today so they can thrive tomorrow. Family Opportunity addresses the challenges with multiple generations in a household.

Social Innovation spurs forward-thinking solutions to old problems. Our goal is to bring strategic focus and support comprehensive solutions to move entire families onto a path of self-sufficiency.

3. What is a success story in Hendricks County you could tell us about United Way?

[Gore] Maybe it’s the time of year, but the Avon High School Junior Day of Caring comes to mind. This program provides an engagement opportunity for the students and sponsors of the Avon High School junior class to work with various community members on service projects.

United Way of Central Indiana coordinates with the high school to identify and schedule project sites across Hendricks County. We have supported this program for years.

In 2018, 774 students worked at 49 different sites, donating a staggering 2,322 volunteer hours, which provides meaningful experience of philanthropy and sense of pride in community.

4. How is Hendricks County affected by United Way?

[Gore] So many ways. We work actively throughout the county from providing funds to support programming, services and partner agencies to supporting volunteer efforts to advocating by serving with various boards and coalitions.

At last count, approximately, one in four of our neighbors receive support from United Way partner agencies, services such as Backpack United or programs like ReadUP.

Over the past three years, United Way of Central Indiana has invested more than $1,000,000 into Hendricks County, and just last year engaged more than 1,000 volunteers who donated close to 4,000 volunteer hours.

5. What United Way agencies are physically located in Hendricks County?

[Both] – With our new framework, we are beginning to shift away from United Way agencies to Accredited Community Based Organizations. There are five United Way partner agencies in Hendricks County: Hendricks County Senior Services, Sheltering Wings, Sycamore Services, Mental Health America of Hendricks County and Hendricks Regional Health YMCA.

However, in addition to the five I mentioned, more than 45 other United Way partner agencies provide support services and programming to Hendricks County residents.

6. What are your Hendricks County goals for the 2019 United Way campaign?

[Both] – Our goal for the 2019 campaign is to educate the community regarding our new strategic framework and impact funds, to provide them with the information to choose which investment makes the most difference for them and opportunities to support their investment through volunteerism and advocacy work.

7. Is there a particular United Way agency that grabs your heart?

[Gore] Now that’s a tough question…the reality is they all grab my heart! We have some amazing partners that daily impact the lives of many in our community. Whether it’s Sheltering Wings providing emergency shelter for a victim of domestic violence or Sycamore Services providing employment services or Hendricks Senior Services engaging seniors in an active, healthy lifestyle. All five community-based organizations play vital roles ensuring that the most vulnerable receive the necessary support and services to move them forward on the path to self sufficiency.

8. Who in Hendricks County do you look up to?

[Gore] Frankly, it’s the hundreds of community volunteers that give of their time, treasure or talents and fight for the vulnerable in our community to achieve self-sufficiency. This is our why, our United Way No. 1 purpose (search #uw1purpose).

9. Hendricks County has a history of strongly supporting United Way. How do you keep that fire lit?

[Both] – First, we must continue to be courageous and bold in our approach to address the daunting problems facing our community.

We know that more than 230,000 families are either living in poverty or one paycheck away from it. In Hendricks county 27 percent of our neighbors are in the same situation. We also know we cannot do it alone. It will take sincere collaboration among the entire community to create sustained impact.

Second, active and visible communication of our strategic framework highlight the issues surrounding generational poverty and the various ways to engage and find the solutions.

Finally, assist in connecting community members with their passion in order to build capacity with community-based organizations to achieve their goals.

10. Okay, open mic. Anything on your mind?

[Gore] I am proud of the work United Way of Central Indiana has accomplished in our first 100 years and energized to see the impact we can create in our next 100 years. As a community, we must recognize poverty is an extremely complex issue that requires many supports to actually lift a family out of it. Hendricks County is extremely philanthropic, has amazing resources and committed community stakeholders, so I am confident we can make a sustained impact by actively seeking creative collaborations. We look forward to connecting throughout Hendricks County.


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