Get to know United Way of Cass County

Chris Armstrong, United Way of Cass County Executive Director

What is United Way of Cass County? What do they do? This is often what we hear. People recognize the name but don’t truly know what it is we do or how it impacts the entire community. The mission of United Way of Cass County is: To increase the ability of the people of Cass County to care for one another, to promote human services and to maximize resources. You may still be wondering “What does United Way do?” Over the next several weeks, there will be an article from each of our funded agencies speaking of the work we fund for them and why our funding is so important to the work they do.

United Way partners with many organizations, schools, businesses, other non-profits, government, churches, etc. to create a better life for all in Cass County. With over 80 years of experience, we are committed to addressing our community’s most pressing needs. We focus on Education, Financial Stability and Health Initiatives by creating a network that brings together people and organizations to create lasting change.

What we are most known for is raising funds through our year-round campaign. Through this huge undertaking we raise over $550,000 annually to be able to provide the services we do and help fund programs through other agencies. The support of the community is vital to our work.

In 2018, United Way funded close to 30 programs which helped our community with initiatives which support programs in Education, Financial Stability and Health. Out of our office alone we do a lot of impact work. Reading Railroad programs are BegindergartenTM, Business Partners, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and First Grade Library Visits.

211 Information and Referral is provided to Cass County through United Way. In 2018, 1,016 referrals were given to residents in Cass County. The top five needs were: food pantries, utility assistance, rent assistance, homeless shelter and general legal aid. The top five agencies people were referred to were: The Salvation Army, Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services, Emmaus Mission Center, Food Finders Food Bank Mobile Pantry and Eel Township Trustee.

Over 400 people worked on 35 projects for Live United Day last year. This one day of volunteering gives so much back to, not only our community, but creates a sense of pride in the volunteers. Projects were done in Galveston, Logansport, Royal Center and Walton.

The Logansport Backpack Program provides 360 elementary students with supplemental food to help them not be hungry on the weekends during the school year. This program could easily be expanded with more funding as there are many more children who qualify.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a program for those earning $60,000 or less annually to get their taxes done for free. This has been a partnership through United Way of Howard County and Area Five Agency on Aging and Community Services. Over 400 people were able to get their taxes done in 2017.

FamilyWize Prescription Drug Cards are distributed through several resources in the community. This is a free prescription drug card and is available to anyone who would like one. There is nothing to sign up for and it is not income-based.

Most recently, a new project has been putting up “Free Little Libraries” in Cass County. We started these in 2017 and continue to keep adding as they are made through Live United Day. So far, the following have hosted one. Young America Volunteer Fire Department, Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, New Waverly United Methodist Church, Fairview Elementary, Huston Park and Walton. We hope to have one up soon in Galveston and at Anoka United Methodist Church. These are where a person can give a book and/or borrow a book. We had concerns about how well these libraries would be received but they are being used frequently. These are for all ages, not just children. These would not be possible without the partnerships of the hosts, Home Depot, Peak Community Services, Tippecanoe Valley Woodworkers and Boy Scout Troop 221.

At our Annual Celebration we honored Matthew-Warren with our Pacesetter Award, Steinberger Construction received the Live United Day Award, and Chuck Newton from Logansport Savings Bank received the Volunteer of the Year.

Our Tocqueville Society Members are individuals donating $10,000 or more annually and are vital to our campaign efforts. Those members are: Mike Anderson, Jay & Kathy Duerr, Randy Ferguson and Tim & Cindy Konich. This is a very distinguished group of people. We cannot thank them enough.

We thank all of our donors, volunteers and community partners. Without you, we could not do all of this great work!

Chris Armstrong
Executive Director