Danville United Way drive 'looking really positive'

Danville United Way drive 'looking really positive'

DANVILLE — The 2013-14 United Way of Danville Area campaign is off to a strong start, officials said Wednesday.

The campaign, which kicked off over the Labor Day weekend, aims to raise $700,000 to support community programs and services that will help improve people's health, education and financial stability.

Fred Faulstich is this year's campaign chairman. He has volunteered with the annual drive for more than 50 years, but this is his first time at the helm.

"Things are looking really positive this year," said Faulstich, who quoted Albert Schweitzer during his presentations at volunteer trainings.

"He said, 'The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others. Only then have we become true human beings,'" Faulstich said. "I thought that pretty much summed up in a nutshell what we're trying to do. We can set a nice goal and try to reach it. But if we do not have a true conviction for helping individuals, then we're not fulfilling our mission."

United Way's mission is "to improve people's lives by mobilizing the caring power of our community," and its vision is "to continue to help build Vermilion County as an excellent community in which to live, learn, work and play."

"We do this by investing in programs that enhance people's lives at every stage," Executive Director Jeanne Mulvaney said, adding the programs and services are needed more than ever.

"People are still struggling," she said, adding the organization aims to reduce poverty by empowering people to secure a good education, live a healthy lifestyle and gain financial stability. "Strengthening these areas will help people learn skills, enjoy a good quality life, be prepared to join the workforce and be ready to retire when the time comes."

In past years, the organization released a list of the programs and services receiving an allocation and the allocation amount. Officials still plan to do that, but later in the campaign. They want to highlight what the programs provide at the outset.

"Without focusing too much on a specific agency, we're hoping (donors) will understand that the dollars we're trying to raise will be very beneficial to those very young in life all the way up to seniors," Faulstich explained. "If folks realize we're trying to enrich the quality of life for individuals who need some help, they're going to be more apt to respond positively and affirmatively."

Education-focused programs that campaign funds will support include early-childhood development programs, aimed at ensuring Success by 6 and building a good foundation for life; middle and high school mentoring, tutoring, violence and substance abuse prevention training and leadership development, aimed at improving student grades and behavior; educational outreach and training for seniors about life issues, nutrition, personal safety and finances, which will allow seniors to live safely in their homes.

Health-focused programs include provisions of food, prescription assistance, shelter assistance, good nutrition and healthy lifestyle opportunities including youth substance abuse and violence prevention and transportation to medical appointments.

They also include family counseling, early childhood development delays assessment and therapy, health and wellness programs, assisted-living for people with disabilities, rebuilding family relationships to ensure healthy interaction, improving children's health to be better prepared for school and life, counseling and shelter, medical and legal advocacy for people who have been abused and/or neglected.

Financial stability-focused programs include disaster relief and immediate shelter, clothing and food; rent, utility, food, water and prescription assistance to help people avoid crisis or regain stability after a crisis; and financial and budget assistance and education, tax preparation and earned income credit assistance, vocational and employment training for youth and people with disabilities to help them learn money management, fiscal responsibility and increase their opportunities for gainful employment.

Other campaign leaders include: Simphi Lenover, Employee Division chair; John Shane, Leadership Division chair; Kevin Jett, Special Business chair; Bruce Meachum, Residential Division Chair; Jim Bailey, Labor Division chair; Kathie Porter, Western Indiana chair; Jim Owens, Vermilion County chair; and Linda Ireland, Campaign Coordinator chair.

Mulvaney said a lot of the behind-the-scenes work has already taken place. Now, 75 to 100 volunteers will contact potential donors and make workplace presentations,

"If you don't hear from anyone and want to be supportive, reach out and call us," she said.

The campaign officially wraps up on Oct. 31, but Mulvaney said officials will continue to accept donations as they come in. She added a few businesses will conduct their campaign at a later date.

For more information or to donate, call the United Way of Danville Area at 442-3512.

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