News and Tribune

February 27, 2014

Giving back in Southern Indiana

Metro United Way celebrates service

By ELIZABETH BEILMAN
elizabeth.beilman@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Although Family Ark in Jeffersonville had a packed house to celebrate Metro United Way Southern Indiana’s 2013 campaign, the room’s attendance represented just a fraction of the lives the organization has touched.

“When I think of United Way, I don’t think of staff. I think of the community,” said Becki Rucker, who was honored for her 15 years of service to United Way.

Giving back to the community was a central focus of the organization’s celebration Thursday, which looked back on the accomplishments of 2013 and announced year-end donation totals.

Gil Betz, chief strategy officer for Metro United Way, said that the 2013 campaign centered around the idea that “everyone counts.”

“At its core, Metro United Way is about one thing: improving lives in our community by engaging people to give, advocate and volunteer,” Betz said. “And we believe that together, we can reach our vision of a community whose people achieve their fullest potential to education, financial stability and healthy lives because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life.”

The Southern Indiana branch of Metro United Way raised a grand total of $1,559,619 for 2013 among Clark, Floyd and Harrison county donors. Clark County raised a total of $750, 887 and Floyd County raised $600,261, including matched donations.

United Metro Way spreads the money among local charities. One of those organizations, which was featured at the event, is The Center for Lay Ministries based in Jeffersonville.

Established in the 1970 to give assistance to the local needy population, the center helped more than 20,800 households in the last year alone. In 2014, it plans to extend its education services to offer home economics courses to its clients.

“Growing from a small church-based cooperative, the Center for Lay Ministries has transitioned and evolved, responding to the changing needs of the community to become a major social service agency for Clark County,” said Greg Henderzahs, executive director of the center. “Even as the center has changed over time,  the essence remains the same: reaching out with respect and caring to help neighbors in need.”

Connecting with community neighbors is the lifeblood of Metro United Way.

“You wouldn’t do it unless you didn’t want to give back to the community,” said Chip Pfau, the 2013 regional campaign chair. “And if have a better community, better living, it benefits the whole area.”