Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 6, 2012

United Way is nearing goal

Speaker highlights necessity of efforts.

by Megan Graham

— At 6-and-a-half years old, a Kokomo girl was carried out of an apartment by a policeman. She was the weight of a 4-year-old, unable to walk or talk and 90 percent of her body was covered in bruises and open wounds. A daughter of two heroin addicts, the girl seemed destined for a life of difficulty.

Though it hasn’t been easy, the United Way has supported her as she’s grown from a girl into a woman with children of her own. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her family, shared her story at the United Way campaign report meeting Thursday afternoon at Community Howard Regional Health West Campus Specialty Hospital.

For the next few years, the woman was shuffled around from foster homes into a domestic violence shelter. Highlights of her dark childhood were the Christmas boxes that the Salvation Army would send her, holding pajamas, gifts and fruit.

“Surely the things I’d endured as a child would guarantee that the next several generations to carry my blood would be not only healthy but blessed,” she said. “Things didn’t work out quite that way.”

The woman’s two children have had severe health problems — her son has struggled with developmental delays and her daughter has diabetes and other ailments that have led to several near-death episodes. But Bona Vista and other United Way programs have supported her son and daughter. She credits the United Way with the well-being of her children and her own survival.

“There are so many ways that you don’t have control of your life,” she said. “It’s nice to know that when you’ve tried everything, a community like we have steps up to help.”

Lori Tate, president of United Way of Howard County, said she hopes the story helps people realize just how much their contributions are needed in the community.  

“It doesn’t make any difference how many times I hear that story,” she said. “It affects me the same way every time.”

The speech revved up the last leg of United Way’s 2012 campaign to raise nearly two million dollars. With 71 percent of their goal completed, the organization has raised $1,330,175 through the efforts of local businesses, corporations and organizations. Though they’re steadily reaching the goal, campaign chairwoman Marilyn Skinner said to keep going strong.

“I do want to thank you all for the parts that you’ve played,” she said. “Keep on playing. Don’t quit yet. It ain’t over until it’s over.”

Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business

reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email at megan.graham@kokomotribune.com.