SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Every year on April 28th, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember the thousands of workers killed and millions more who are injured or diseased because of their jobs.

This year, the Workers Memorial Service will be held Friday, April 28, 2017 from 4-5 p.m. at Howard Park Senior Center n South Bend and will remember the regional workers who lost their lives in 2016. The service will begin at the Senior Center and will include a walk to the Memorial Site. The event will be presented by the North Central IN AFL-CIO CLC, all affiliated unions and in partnership with United Way of St. Joseph County. Families of lost loved ones and the general public are encouraged to attend.

For more information on the event, contact Dawn Chapla from United Way of St. Joseph County at (574) 232-8201 ext. 228 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Collaboration is key in new United Way grants 
Grants makeover offers three-year funding

The Center for the Homeless and Hope Ministries will join forces this year on a new program where they’ll educate school employees, ambulance and emergency crews and others so they better understand trauma — like homelessness, abuse, neglect and domestic violence — and how it keeps people from making use of the help they need.

The program, called Building Trust, has garnered $270,000 per year from the United Way of St. Joseph County over the next three years. Several other agencies will help.

It marks some of the key changes in how the United Way is financing charitable efforts to fight poverty.

Gone are the one-year “allocations,” the old way of distributing money that came through fundraising campaigns. Now most recipients get three-year grants that started to roll out with the new fiscal year on Friday. United Way officials told the charities last year that they’d start with a “clean slate” — that the 40 volunteers who reviewed their applications wouldn’t consider what the programs had received in the past.

The United Way opened the grants up to any charity in the county and pushed them to collaborate, ensuring them a better shot at dollars if they did. Out of 45 programs that are receiving dollars, 18 have pledged to collaborate with other organizations. That’s in addition to eight initiatives that the United Way itself coordinates, all of which have multiple partners.

The idea, President and CEO Matt Harrington said, is to make better use of collective resources. He said programs fared better if they focused on the root causes of poverty — honing in on the United Way’s overall goal of erasing poverty — and if their efforts can be replicated elsewhere in the community.

That, Harrington said, gives the United Way a clearer, more measurable way of telling the community what it’s accomplishing. He said donors, particularly company executives, agree with the collaborative approach, having told him “it’s about time to get nonprofits to work together for the common good.”

As for the charities, “The process has been as transparent as possible, and I think they appreciate that,” said Sheri Niekamp, director of community impact.

Several programs that were financed last year did manage to win dollars under the new system. Some programs didn’t.

One of the collaborations is at the Early Childhood Coalition of St. Joseph County, where the United Way will spend $30,000 per year for the next two years so that, for the first time in its 2.5-year history, the coalition will have a paid staff member: a coordinator. Emily Rupchock, who started in that role in a temporary contract in March, said this will give the group more focus and leadership as its four work groups meet monthly to seek ways to improve child care and families’ awareness.

She also supervises early childhood programs at the Center for the Homeless, and she’s one of the 50 or so members of the coalition that include elected officials, business leaders, data experts and a lot of people who work in child care. The United Way was a founding member.

The Bridges Out of Poverty Initiative of St. Joseph has won $30,000 per year for the next two years to launch “investigative teams” to identify and seek solutions to local barriers that the poor face. LeRoy King, who started as Bridges’ director in March, said the program aims to eventually change community services, like improving access to transportation or medical care or any number of other results.

At first, it sounds just like the work that Bridges has already been doing: Bring people with resources — be it money, expertise, influence or skills — to sit and chat with people lacking resources. Get them to talk about the barriers that the poor run into and how to solve them. But that has all been very individualized, King said. The key difference with the investigative teams, King said, is that it would seek broader changes in the community.

“We’re not sure what may emerge,” he said.

King said Bridges sought a total of $600,000 from United Way over the next three years — far more than most programs typically receive — to pay for an extra full-time and part-time employee, along with stipends for participants, technology and other expenses in facilitating 160 people on the teams.

“We encouraged them to start small and perfect it," Harrington said of the $30,000-per-year grant. "Then they could scale it up and grow it from there.”

King said Bridges is now looking at doing just that, although more money still needs to be raised so that it can start up this fall. He noted that Bridges is also receiving all of the United Way aid it sought for two other programs.


United Way grants

• Total requested: $7.4 million over three years

• Total grants awarded: $2.28 million over three years

• Total for United Way’s eight initiatives: $1.4 million for one year

• Percent of donations used for administration, fundraising and marketing: 18.4 percent

• Descriptions of programs that received grants, or “Community Investments”: Find link at uwsjc.org

• Amounts awarded to agencies and programs: Find link with this story at southbendtribune.com


Westfield Insurance Foundation’s Legacy of Caring Fund Benefits United Way of St. Joseph County’s Kindergarten Readiness Camps Partnerships

South Bend, IN, June 22, 2016 -- United Way of St. Joseph County has received a grant from Westfield Insurance Foundation thanks to the help of 1st Source Insurance.  The grant is part of the new Westfield Legacy of Caring program in which Westfield independent insurance agencies across the country were invited to nominate a local nonprofit in the areas of disaster relief, insurance pathways, family stability or safety.

United Way is partnering with four public school districts in St. Joseph County to provide Kindergarten Readiness Camps in June and July of 2016, serving between 80 and 100 children in total.  The camps provide essential academic and social development skills so that the children are ready to learn on the first day of school.  School district partners include School City of Mishawaka (serves Mishawaka), the John Glenn School Corporation (serves Walkerton and North Liberty), the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation (serves Mishawaka, Granger, Wakarusa and Osceola) and the South Bend Community School Corporation (serves South Bend).

“Thanks to the generous donation from Westfield Insurance Foundation, we will be able to increase our efforts toward partnering with our school districts to offer kindergarten readiness camps throughout the county. We know that children with higher levels of school readiness at age five are generally more successful in grade school, are less likely to drop out of high school and earn more as adults,” said Matt Harrington, United Way of St. Joseph County’s President and CEO.

“We value our partnerships with our independent insurance agencies.  Giving back to our agents’ communities in support of these key areas is an extension of the fundamental role that insurance plays every day in stabilizing families, businesses and communities,” said Ed Largent, Westfield President, CEO, board chair and Westfield Insurance Foundation chairman.

“1st Source Insurance and its employees are proud members of the Michiana community.  Our collaboration with Westfield allows us to further our citizenship efforts and have impact in critically important initiatives,” said Chris Strafford, President of 1st Source Insurance.

United Way of St. Joseph County is one of 45 nonprofit agencies nationwide to receive over $400,000 in donations from the Westfield Legacy of Caring program.  Westfield is proud to work with their independent agents in distributing nearly $750,000 since the onset of the Legacy of Caring program last year.

1st Source Insurance is a leading provider of business and personal insurance in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan. 1st Source Insurance employs 53 people in ten offices, located in South Bend/Mishawaka, Goshen, Elkhart, LaPorte, Knox, Plymouth, Fort Wayne, Valparaiso and Merrillville.

Serving our community since 1914, United Way of St. Joseph County is a nonprofit organization whose mission is To Mobilize the Community to Collectively Reduce Poverty. The organization works in collaboration with community partners to invest resources, convene, organize and support critical work in St. Joseph County.

About Westfield Insurance Foundation
Westfield Insurance Foundation was established in 2005 as an independent private foundation endowed by Westfield Insurance. In keeping with the values of Westfield Insurance, the Foundation exists as a dedicated community and industry partner; concentrating resources to have an impact on safety, disaster relief and family stability. The Foundation donates $3 million annually to a variety of charities. 

About Westfield Insurance
Westfield Insurance is a part of Westfield Group, a customer-focused insurance and banking group of businesses headquartered in Westfield Center, Ohio, and in business for more than 168 years. Westfield Insurance provides commercial insurance in 21 states, personal insurance in 10 states and surety services to customers in 50 states. Westfield is one of the nation’s 50 largest property and casualty insurance groups, represented by a network of more than 1,000 independent insurance agencies. Westfield Insurance was named as a Top Workplace in northeast Ohio in 2014, as a Top Workplace in central Ohio in 2015, and as one of the Top 10 Best Private Companies for Leaders by Chief Executive Magazine in 2016. Westfield Bank provides banking solutions for businesses and individuals, and Westfield Services provides service and training support for independent insurance agencies. Learn more about Westfield Group at www.WestfieldInsurance.com and www.Westfield-Bank.com



People Gotta Eat” Coalition Educates Clients on How to Cook Pantry Items

 By Christine Karsten

South Bend, Ind. — Summer is probably one of the most critical times for food pantries. They see fewer donation drives and kids are out of school, meaning those that qualify for free and reduced lunch may need to find food elsewhere. That’s why 11 pantries in St. Joseph County, who work together thanks to a coalition called “People Gotta Eat,” are looking for donations.

“People Gotta Eat” started about six or seven years ago thanks to United Way of St. Joseph County.

“It was important for United Way to support our local food pantries and obviously people needing to eat is a basic life necessity and we recognize that there are always resources that are needed by our food pantries to support our folks,” says President and CEO of United Way of St. Joseph County Matt Harrington.

Each of the 11 food pantries in this coalition existed before it was established. Now, they work together.

“I didn’t have anything on this pallet, nothing on this pallet, nothing on this pallet, nothing on this pallet and nothing on that pallet,” explains Director of Programs at St. Vincent De Paul Society Dale Seely. “These were also pretty bare over here. So, one of the things our relationship with ‘People Gotta Eat’ has done for us is helps us to generate the funds we need in order to purchase food. When we don’t have those good food drives coming in we have to purchase food because I have to take care of the people who walk through the door.”

It also allows pantries to talk about what is working and what’s not and lets them know when pantries, like St. Vincent De Paul, need donations.

“We need things like mac and cheese, spaghetti sauce, pasta, boxed potatoes, breakfast cereal, a very important item,” explains Seely.

But, what they found out through these donations is that they come in contact with items their clients may not be able to recognize let alone cook. That is why they decided to try something new this year. They decided to work with Martin’s and have them take things from the pantry and make meals out those items.

“I need something that is not going to be real costly, I need something that is going to be relatively easy and I need something I can do quickly because a lot of people who are struggling don’t have a great deal of time to stand in a kitchen and do things,” adds Seely.

Martin’s was able to do that and provide menus.

“No one in St. Joseph County should be hungry because they couldn’t find a pantry that was able to help them,” says Seely.

There are 11 pantries total in the coalition. As of July first there will be 14. If you want to join or donate, click here.



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