News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 17, 2010

Wabash Valley United Way gives peek at how it’s agencies help people

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — From family courts to basketball, United Way volunteers learned Thursday how their dollars help Valley residents cope with tough times.

Decked out in matching white T-shirts, 15 volunteers participated in a bus tour of three local agencies which receive United Way funding.

Troy Fears, executive director of the United Way of the Wabash Valley, explained the tours give board members and campaign volunteers the chance to see how these charities work on a day-to-day basis.

“We try to do this once a year. It gives the volunteers a better idea of why they’re raising the money,” he said inside the Council on Domestic Abuse’s safe house facility, which was toured along with the Boys & Girls Club of Terre Haute and United Child Care.

Yvonne Creekbaum led the tour through CODA’s facility, which maintains a 10-apartment living complex for individuals seeking an escape from an abusive relationship.

“We’re one of only two shelters in Indiana that house men,” she said, noting the majority of the participants are women with children. The facility currently houses 12, including children, as two women just recently graduated. “This is a program. It’s not just a place to live,” she said.

While in the residency program, which can last between one and two years, the participants pay rent by either working or with assistance from the federal department of housing, she said. Participants are required to either work or attend school with the goal of becoming self-sufficient. “Learning how to be alone is so, so important,” she said.

Meanwhile, 200 children were anything but alone on the gym floors of the Boys & Girls Club as assistant director Bobby Moore led guests through the workings of the Early Bird Day Camp now under way there. More than 190 children have signed up for the 10-week day camp program, he said, explaining the hours run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Basketball, dodge ball, bowling, and roller-skating mix in with arts, crafts and swimming, he explained amid the brown tiled hallways with pictures of basketball teams from the 1970s.

The final stop on the group’s three-hour tour was at United Child Care, a daycare program for children ages 3 to 12 whose parents are considered low-income.

United Way board member and tour participant Rick Burger said he was impressed with the number of smiling children he saw during the program.

“It’s just great to see all these services to help kids,” Duke Energy’s area manager said, referring to the Boys & Girls Club as a “home away from home” for many area children.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.