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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – As the United Way of St. Joseph County embarks on a ten-year journey to reduce poverty by 25,000 individuals by 2025, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program or VITA, as it is often called, will play an integral role in reaching this goal. From 2013-2014 the VITA program provided services to more than 3200 households, was responsible for bringing over $4 million of processed refunds back to St. Joseph County and helped low-income taxpayers save over $1 million in tax preparation fees.

Recently, 1st Source Foundation, the philanthropic arm of 1st Source Bank, provided a grant of nearly $25,000 in support of United Way’s VITA program. The funds will primarily be used to increase marketing and advertising efforts in an attempt to reach, and ultimately serve, as many low-income, disabled and senior taxpayers as possible.

As a key partner in the betterment of St. Joseph County, 1st Source Bank continues to be a model of what it means to “LIVE UNITED.” As United Way prepares for next year’s tax season, the organization plans to make the absolute most of the grant money and bring even more tax refund money to qualified taxpayers in St. Joseph County. At the close of the 2015 tax season Dawn Chapla, Director of Labor and Financial Stability and Rachel Bradley, Director of Mission Advancement plan to work closely with 1st Source Bank’s senior marketing staff to report record-breaking outcomes in our community.

 


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One of the highlights at the completion of the South Bend Community School Corporation's United Way campaign is the drawing for gifts.  Each of the hundreds of employees names who contribute to the campaign, no matter the dollar amount, is put into a hat for an anonymous drawing.  There are a large number of donated gifts awarded ranging from restaurant gift cards, to annual passes to all SBCSC sporting and fine arts events.  For the grand prize, SBCSC superintendent and United Way board member Dr. Carole Schmidt offers to do the winners' job for half a day.  The winner for the 2013 campaign was Julie Craig, a second grade teacher at Swanson Primary Center.

On April 23rd, Dr. Schmidt arrived at Swanson Primary Center bright and early to meet her students.  She followed Ms. Craig's lesson plans and took attendance, got the lunch count to the cafeteria, instructed students about adjectives, led a discussion after students read a story about heroes, discussed symmetry and had students draw a mirror image of a butterfly, and finally read the book, Pete the Cat:  Rocking in My School Shoes.  It was a busy morning with the students, but very rewarding for both Dr. Schmidt and the teacher, Julie Craig, who enjoyed a much-deserved morning off.

This is the second year Dr. Schmidt has rewarded a United Way donor teacher with a half day of doing their job.  Who knows whose job she'll do next year - a principal, school secretary, custodian, or cafeteria worker?  With the large number employees from SBCSC who participate in the United Way campaign each year, we'll see who is the lucky winner after their fall campaign!

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Eloise Erickson, a relationship manager from SPEC’s Indianapolis Territory, was working at the VITA site sponsored by United Way of St. Joseph County when she witnessed the remarkable gesture of goodwill.

When VITA volunteer Kathi Hale walked into the site, few people could have predicted what was in the box she was carrying. It was a brand new laptop that she gave to the United Way as a gift.
"I had points on my bank card and didn't have anything I really needed,” said Kathi, a VITA volunteer for four years. “I knew how much the VITA program could use a new laptop."

The United Way of St. Joseph’s County VITA site is a member of the Prosperity Building Campaign Tax Team, and is a three-year VITA Grant recipient. So far this year, their volunteers have filed more than 2,300 tax returns for taxpayers in the South Bend area.

"This is absolutely amazing! I was just working on an old laptop, which is almost fried," said Dawn Chapla, the Director of Labor and Financial Stability for the United Way of St. Joseph County. "Kathi volunteers every Saturday wherever I need her."

For Eloise, the SPEC relationship manager who works with the VITA program in South Bend, the act of generosity was unexpected, but not completely surprising.

“The dedication of our VITA and AARP volunteers across the State of Indiana is amazing, and is represented by Kathi,” said Eloise. “It was definitely the highlight of my trip, if not the entire filing season.”

 

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. – United Way of St. Joseph County Board of Directors announced on May 22nd that they have accepted the resignation of President/CEO Kay Ball. Alfred Guillaume, Jr. was named interim President/CEO.

“I am very proud of the significant accomplishments we have made together during my six year tenure at United Way. With the ultimate commitment to move the United Way mission forward—and now, to transform our mission to focus more keenly on the issue of poverty in our community—our team of board members, community partners, volunteers and staff have developed significant synergy to that end. We have addressed many exceptional challenges of these times with great vision and wisdom. As a result, United Way is strongly positioned to continue its leadership role as convener and facilitator of community partnerships well into the future,” said Ball.

Chris Strafford, United Way board president, added, “Kay led our organization with professional competence and personal confidence that strengthened us through many significant internal and external transitions. During her tenure, United Way has raised $21,056,000 from individuals, corporations and foundations to invest in Education, Income/Financial Stability and Health programs and services. The Board is grateful for Kay’s hard work, dedication and inspiring leadership. We will miss her but wish her well in her new position as the Executive Director for the Elkhart General Hospital Foundation.”

United Way board member Alfred Guillaume, Jr. has been appointed by the United Way Board to assume the role of Interim President/CEO on June 7. Dr. Guillaume served as a United Way Board Member for nearly nine years, as well as a member of its Community Investment Committee. Recently retired, he served fourteen years as executive vice president for academic affairs at Indiana University South Bend. Additionally, he has held teaching and senior level academic leadership positions at Xavier University in New Orleans, Saint Louis University and Humboldt State University. Alfred is active in civic engagement and is an advisor to and board member of numerous organizations, including the Foundation of the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, the South Bend Symphony, WVPE, Greening the Bend, IUSB’s Center for A Sustainable Future, the African American Community Fund, and Habitat for Humanity. He is a charter member and one of the founding directors of the 100 Black Men of Greater South Bend. Dr. Guillaume previously served on the board of directors of the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, the La Salle Council of Boy Scouts of America, and is a former president of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association.

“United Way is moving to a model of Collective Impact with a focus on reducing poverty in our community. We are honored that Dr. Guillaume has agreed to serve during this time. His commitment to our community through non-profit volunteer leadership and his military service to his country are humbling; his professional credentials are inspiring. The Board appreciates his loyal, compassionate dedication to the United Way mission,” said Strafford.

United Way of St. Joseph County is a nonprofit organization that advances the common good. Currently celebrating its 100th Anniversary year, United Way’s key priorities of Education, Income and Health are demonstrated through partnerships with 57 local agency programs and facilitation of diverse United Way services.

 

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