Featured Match Day participant:

Families United for Support and Encouragement (FUSE)

Executive Director:

Denise Arland


FUSE is committed to improving the lives of children with special needs and their families through education, public awareness, advocacy, support, resources and referrals, networking and community activities.

Organization highlights:

• When families have a child with a disability, the initial diagnosis often comes as a shock. This is not what they expected, and families do not know where to turn. FUSE is here to connect families to others who are traveling a similar journey. In 2014, 231 individuals attended the group’s parent support meetings, family activities and other special programs. Sara C., a FUSE parent, recently offered her thoughts about FUSE and said, “I cannot imagine our lives without FUSE!! Who would I turn to with questions, concerns and victories? I am so thankful for those who have walked this path, with the help of FUSE, before us. They are now there guiding and encouraging us.”

• FUSE values its partnerships with community volunteers, especially with high school extracurricular clubs that encourage students to volunteer time working with nonprofit agencies. In 2014 FUSE was assisted by 175 volunteers, which enabled the group to provide an adaptive swim program, an Easter Egg Hunt, its Inspiring Abilities Expo, and free child care at monthly meetings. Volunteers also helped raise funds to support FUSE programs and activities. The group has found the peer interaction between student volunteers and children with disabilities provides immeasurable benefits to both the volunteer and the child. One four-year high school volunteer recently wrote us to say, “Every year one of my favorite activities has always been helping with FUSE, and it has taught me so much about patience, love and respect.”

• Families contacting FUSE are seeking support and information around a wide variety of critical topics, including public and private financial resources, medical and therapeutic services and providers, assistive technology/adaptive equipment, special education, community and adaptive recreation, childcare, legal services, educational and community inclusion, and emotional supports. In 2014 FUSE fielded 338 requests for information or support from 121 families and 26 professionals around these issues and other related topics.

Match Day funding plans:

The grant that FUSE receives for immediate use will be applied to the group’s general operating expenses because that is the most difficult type of funds to raise. The primary focus of the funds will be to fund salaries to staff, parent support meetings, parent training programs, and information and referral services for families.

The grant to grow the endowment plays a key role in FUSE’s ability to carry out its mission for generations to come. Because the principal of its endowment remains untouched for all time, the endowment helps diversify funding sources and provides an ongoing stream of revenue to support the organization’s day-to-day operations and services now and far into the future.

About Match Day

Match Day, sponsored by the Hancock County Community Foundation, is a day-long fundraising event benefiting 12 local nonprofits. Between now and July 24 (Match Day), we’ll feature these nonprofits and highlight their offerings in the community.

Donations made on Match Day, July 24, will be matched two ways:

1) Every community gift received during the 24-hour period will be matched by funds from a community foundation pool of $80,000, which will go toward the organizations’ immediate needs. How much of that pool is received is proportional to how much the organization raises on Match Day.

2) All community gifts will also be endowed and matched 50 cents on the dollar, up to $7,500 per organization, from a $90,000 grant pool from the Lilly Endowment. This means each organization’s goal is to raise $15,000 in order to receive the entire $7,500 match.

All Match Day contributions must be made on July 24 in order to be counted as part of the campaign. Individuals may make online contributions at They can make a gift by cash, check (dated July 24) or credit card at the foundation office or by phone. Gifts via mail will be accepted only if postmarked July 24.

About the Hancock County Community Foundation

The Hancock County Community Foundation works with individuals, families and organizations to create or grow existing permanent funds called endowments. These funds generate income that is distributed in the form of grants and scholarships to enrich and enhance life in Hancock County, as well as support the donor’s favorite charitable causes, both at home and afar, forever. The foundation has granted more than $10 million since its inception in 1992.