GREENFIELD — From new trees in Riley Park to a sizable memorial to honor those who served in New Palestine, the nearly $400,000 donated during the Hancock County Community Foundation’s Match Day in July has made a big impact on the county, local nonprofit leaders say.
Many of the 12 local organizations that benefited from the fundraiser used the gifts to keep their groups operating, while others dedicated the dollars to improvements and repairs.
The community donated more than $226,000 during the 24-hour donation drive. That amount nearly doubled, reaching close to $400,000, after contributions from the community foundation and the Lilly Endowment were factored in.
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The money was divided between nonprofits’ long-term sustainability and immediate needs, meaning residents played a major role in the organizations’ futures and the futures of those they aid, said Mary Gibble, president of the Hancock County Community Foundation.
“And the organizations were incredibly thankful,” she said.
Here’s a look at what each nonprofit used its Match Day money for:
Greenfield Parks and Recreation
In Riley Park, Greenfield’s largest park, more than 120 trees have been infected with emerald ash borer. As a result, more than a dozen trees had to be cut down this summer. More trees are expected to be cut down in coming years.Money from Match Day helped the department purchase and plant 23 new trees. Replanting trees as quickly as possible is key to keeping Riley Park full of the big, beautiful trees the community has come to know and love, park superintendent Ellen Kuker said.“As you can imagine, we just didn’t have money in our budget for reforesting Riley Park,” she said. “(The Match Day funding) is making a huge difference.”
Sugar Creek Township Park
Along with being a hub for health and fitness activities, education, recreation and relaxation in the southern part of the county, Sugar Creek Township Park will soon be home to a veterans memorial more than 10 years in the making.The memorial will be called the Southern Hancock County Veterans Memorial, and Match Day money kick-started the building effort, said Jim Cole, a member of New Palestine American Legion Post 182, which is spearheading the project.The park already had purchased flagpoles, lighting and other elements that will stand near the entrance to the park.
The group hopes the memorial will be completed next year.
“We couldn’t have done it without (the funding),” Cole said. “It is a godsend.”
Nameless Creek Youth Camp
More than 6,500 people a year make memories among the tree-lined pathways and play areas at Nameless Creek Youth Camp, president Jerry Bell said.Those visitors come from near and far to participate in the more than 200 events the park hosts each year, and the gifts donated on Match Day should help increase that number as the camp plans to build a large gathering hall with the money it received. The hall will feature a meeting area, dining hall, kitchen and covered deck.Groundbreaking for the new building should be in the spring, Bell said.
The project marks one of the final steps in a 10-year growth plan the camp created, Bell said. Now the organization can focus on its sustainability, he said.
Hancock County Food Pantry
The Hancock County Food Pantry secures and distributes food to the needy in an effort to alleviate hunger in the county. In 2014, the pantry distributed nearly $1 million worth of food and personal hygiene products and served 660 households monthly.The funding it received from Match Day was put into its general fund to help with operating costs. The pantry was able to purchase almost a month’s worth of food for families who utilize the pantry.“It was a blessing,” president Tom Ferguson said. “It goes a long way here.”
Hancock County Public Library
The Hancock County Public Library caters to residents of all ages. The library, which has locations in Greenfield and New Palestine, offers programming for children, teens and adults and relies on public dollars and donations to fund its budget. With the Match Day funding it received, the library upgraded one of the iMac computers in its public computer lab. It also was able to offer more programming this year, including two concerts.Director Dave Gray said the library wouldn’t be able to offer the level of service it does without the community’s help.“This is really just a wonderful gift to be able to continue that,” he said.
Hancock County Senior Services
Since opening in 2001, Hancock County Senior Services has offered thousands of county residents services, from respite relief for caregivers to a public transit system available to all.The organization’s clientele has expanded significantly, which is the growth Linda Hart, executive director, wants to see. But that’s also increased expenses, she said.This year alone, several repairs were needed for the organization’s fleet of vehicles, which are used to operate its transportation system. She said Match Day funds provided the extra boost needed to make those repairs.
“Without those, we’d be looking at cutting drivers’ time and turning down trips to some people who rely on us to get to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy or even the grocery store,” Hart said.
Families United for Support and Encouragement
Denise Arland, executive director of Families United for Support and Encouragement (FUSE), said she’s always seeking grants and other funding opportunities for her organization, which offers support resources to local families raising children with special needs.FUSE doesn’t receive any state or federal dollars, which means she has to devote a lot of time to secure funding, time that could be spent helping families, Arland added.Arland said the funds FUSE received through Match Day helped sustain one of the organization’s most important resources: its staff. Most of the money it received went toward payroll and general operating expenses, she said.
“If we’re not here to answer calls and give referrals, some families would have to do without our services when they need them most,” Arland said.
Hancock Hope House
As the only homeless shelter in the county, Hancock Hope House plays a leading role in helping needy residents get back on their feet while providing a higher quality of life, safety, security and a sense of dignity.But keeping the lights on in the 16,000-square-foot shelter is costly, director Carl Denny said. Electric bills can cost upward of $1,400.The money the shelter received on Match Day has helped cover those operational costs, Denny said.
“We are so thankful to the community and all those who donated,” he said.
Bradley United Methodist Church
The reach of Bradley United Methodist Church in Greenfield extends beyond those who attend its weekly services. The organization also makes its facilities available to many local groups for regular meetings, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous and Hancock County Children’s Choir.The church operates on a tight budget, however, so unforeseen expenses can cause concern. Match Day funds helped cover some of those gaps this year, said Don Erwin, chairman of the church’s finance committee.Most of the funds the church received went toward the addition of several handicapped parking spaces outside the facility. The church also used Match Day funds to purchase a digital microphone for the pastor to use during services, Erwin said.
“When new needs like those arise, and we don’t have the immediate funds needed, it’s usually something we have to put on hold or just do without,” Erwin said. “That’s where Match Day came through.”
Leaders in Navigating Knowledge
Leaders in Navigating Knowledge, which provides resources and support to area residents seeking higher education opportunities, is a one-employee organization operated almost entirely by its director, Danielle Daugherty.Daugherty personalizes services based on each client’s needs, whether it be helping with a specific application form or seeking sound advice about what type of program to pursue.The funds she received from Match Day will go directly toward the organization’s operating costs, including rent, office expenses and payroll, she said.
Daugherty said that financial support ensures she can make herself available to clients.
“For a small nonprofit, that really cuts on my anxiety,” she said. “That’s one less month where I’ll be worried about how we’ll secure funding.”
Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) serves as a bridge connecting those in need with resources and charities, many of which are offered through Hancock County churches. By partnering with these religious communities, Love INC helps residents who find themselves in a tough spot get back on their feet, whether it be through monetary aid or material goods.But the work Love INC does relies heavily on volunteers and donations from the churches to cover its operational needs, director Jim Peters said.Money donated on Match Day helped the organization reduce its reliance on those churches, Peters said, meaning the dollars donated by churches go straight to people in need rather than helping Love INC pay its bills.
Hancock County 4-H Agricultural Association
The Hancock County 4-H Agricultural Association’s goal is to encourage youth and community to come together and to participate in a learning environment. Nearly 1 in 200 Hancock County youth belong to 4-H, a program through which they learn to use science and technology, make decisions, problem-solve, work productively, meet deadlines and develop leadership abilities.With the money donated during Match Day, the ag association planned to continue to support local 4-H programs and maintain the fairgrounds and buildings.