Their comments after Community Issues Day said it all.
“Very long day,” said one member of the Class of 2016-17 after the group visited with more than a dozen nonprofit directors to learn about challenges that our communities face. “Emotionally draining.”
“Very eye-opening,” said another class member.
Their reactions came at the end of a busy class day in which the 25 class members surveyed the breadth of Hancock County’s nonprofit community. From large groups (United Way of Central Indiana and the Hancock County Community Foundation) to small ones (FUSE and Edelweiss Equine-Assisted Therapy Center), the class received a broad education in the agencies that assist those in need.
The Landing, 18 W. South St., Greenfield, played host to the group for the day. The Landing is a youth center that offers support to at-risk young people.
The class day began with a “poverty simulation” designed to illustrate the hard choices families must make when they encounter crisis. The class members struggled to prioritize expenses when the moderator, Paula Jarrett, area east director for United Way of Central Indiana, told them they had to eliminate a chunk of their fictional families’ income because of a job loss. Some gave up health insurance to cut expenses. Others surrendered their cell phones. Everyone chafed at the choices.
There were no wrong answers. Only difficult ones.
The class also spent nearly two hours of their day in roundtable discussions with directors of nonprofits, who explained their agencies’ roles in the community. Many real-life families from their earlier poverty scenarios, they learned, depend on the services these agencies provide.
Participating in the roundtable discussions were:
Linda Ostewig, director of The Landing
Kathleen Vahle, director of Meals on Wheels of Hancock County
Lisa Heady of the Hancock County Children’s Choir
Jim Peters of Love INC
Kurt Vetters of Edelweiss
Denise Arland of FUSE, a clearinghouse to assist families with special-needs children
Kim Hall, director of Mental Health Partners of Hancock County
Linda Hart, director of Hancock County Senior Services
Nicole Mann of the Jane Pauley Community Health Center in Greenfield
Judy White of the Hancock County Women’s Resource Center
The class also heard an enlightening presentation from Mary Gibble, president of the Hancock County Community Foundation, who gave the class an inside look at the makeup of nonprofits and the importance of volunteering for nonprofit boards.
After enjoying lunch at the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen in downtown Greenfield, the class toured the Hancock County Food Pantry and Hancock Hope House, the county’s transition shelter for those who have lost their homes.
As the class toured the food pantry and listened to director Tom Ferguson describe the challenge to feed the hungry in the county, a vehicle pulled up to the loading area with a collection of donations. Peeling off from the group, several class members helped unload the groceries, piling the bags onto a cart so the items could be sorted and brought to the pantry floor.
It was a fitting object lesson on a day dedicated to learning about those who help others.