United Way of Franklin County held its annual dinner Monday, Feb. 10, at Third Place. 

Executive director Kelly Bulmer, kicked off the dinner with a warm welcome for the crowd gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of UWFC during 2019.

“We have loyal donors, agency partners, past and present board members, families of board members, employers that hold payroll campaigns for us, all here tonight,” Bulmer said. “All of you are invaluable to our mission here in Franklin County.  Without all of you in this room, we could not positively impact the lives in our community by assessing needs, uniting partner organizations, agencies and volunteers and devoting our financial resources and efforts to the most critical needs.”

After the welcome, a spaghetti dinner with all the trimmings (meatballs, salad and garlic bread) was served by Third Place before the bulk of the meeting began.

Once the plates had been cleared, UWFC's vice president Elizabeth Eggleston stood at the podium to recognize and honor UWFC's partnering agencies. The list of groups supported was impressive and included: 

Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, Franklin County 4-H, Franklin County Sheriff's Department, Franklin County High School guidance department, Brook-ville Elementary School, Laurel Elementary School, Imagination Library of Franklin County, Franklin County Senior Center, One Community One Family, Kiwanis, River Valley Resource, New Horizons, Safe Passage, Southeast Health Clinic, Staying Alive and Empowering Families.    

Money raised by UWFC helps to fund each of these programs in some way.  Scholarships and uniforms were provided to the boy and girl scouts for members who wanted to participate but lacked funding.  The K-9 agility course that was put on for the FC Sheriff Department was thanks to UWFC, and even programs like the BES good character program is a result of the partnership with UWFC.

Next, Bulmer celebrated all the payroll companies that have partnered with UWFC, including FCN Bank, Bath State Bank, First Financial Bank, Franklin County School Corporation, Margaret Mary Health, Owens Corning and the town of Brookville. This program is an easy way for employees to donate right from their paycheck.  

“Every year, these companies welcome us in and assist us with holding a payroll campaign with their employees,” Bulmer said.  “These companies understand the benefits of giving back to a community in a big way and often bring a team of volunteers to participate in our annual Day of Caring. 
We cannot thank you enough for giving to our efforts every year.”

UWFC's new president, Dawn Rosenberger, was next and gave hope that the great programs started in 2019 would set the tone for 2020.  

Rosenberger's message showcased what UWFC did in the community in 2019.  Rosenberger talked about the effort of promoting 211 throughout the community.  211 is a referral number that individuals can call, text or even go to the website to chat with a community resource specialist who will help individuals get connected to needed resources. The results:

“There were 159 calls into 211 in 2019 with nearly 300 referrals made,” Rosenberger said. “The top requests were housing, utility assistance, food, mental health, or addiction services.”

The UWFC campaign for 2019 was launched with a theme of the “The Power of One.” The idea, one individual can make a difference with one donation and or one hour of volunteer service. Part of the funds raised through this initiative went to the new Emergent Need Fund managed by United Way and dispersed through SIEOC.  

UWFC also partnered with Franklin County Community Foundation and Franklin County Court system to bring the Rural Works program to the community. The program consists of four phases, which start with a one-week workshop on job readiness, job search, job retention (with the goal of one job for one year) and finally, job advancement. 

UWFC also hosted its annual Day of Caring, coats for kids drive, family fun day activities and a student board initiative. The student board will start their project in the spring, which will be interactive/educational stencils on the playground blacktop at each county elementary school, including St. Michael.  

Also, in 2019 UWFC was able to give 65,000 to organizations through its regular grant cycle and strategic grant cycle.

In her closing, Rosen-berger spoke to what those contributions and organizations mean and do for the community.

“It is not just a list of activities, but an intentional impact that will ripple into years to come,” Rosenberger said. “The organization is very grateful and appreciates everyone who trusted the United Way of Franklin County with their donations to create change for our community.”

Outgoing UWFC Board members were recognized and included: Penny Hofer, who served two consecutive three-year terms on the board; Sharon Bryant, who served one three-year term on the board; Chris Huer-kamp, who served one year on the board of directors and Matt Perleberg, who served one complete three- year term. Kyle Seibert and Taylor McCreary, FCHS students who served on the student board, were recognized along with Evan McMillin, who utilized the intern program through FCHS and United Way.

New members were announced by governance chair Brad Munchel, and included Gloria Dixon, Rhon-da Kerr, Melody Montag and Ann Thackery, all who are thrilled to bring their passion for the program to the board.

Once the business was complete, and the audience had been told of the great year for UWFC, Bulmer stepped back up to the podium and closed the meeting with emotion.

“This is the start of my seventh year with United Way of Franklin County,” Bulmer said. “And as I've reflected on 2019 in preparing for tonight, I can say that this has been a year of change and growth.  Our organization has worked incredibly hard to position ourselves as a change agent in Franklin County.”

It was when Bulmer spoke of what a humbling experience it is to see the impact UWFC has on Franklin County that Bulmer struggled to finish her speech as she became overwhelmed with emotion and pride. 

Bulmer thanked the group one last time before stepping away from the podium.

Post-meeting, Bulmer expressed what it was about the foundation and the community that brought her tears during her closing.

“I love this community. I love the people here,” Bul-mer said. “It has taken six years to get where we are, but we are to a point where we are going to make changes in our community.”