Letter: United Way expands scope, helping others at unprecedented levels

From: Doug Otto


It’s hard to realize that it has been five years since I retired after 17 as president of United Way of Bartholomew County. The landscape of the community has changed to the point that I don’t know many of our leaders, and they don’t know me. One thing I do know, however, is about the great job Mark Stewart, my successor, and the United Way staff are doing.

Mark continues to lead record campaigns every year, and under his leadership United Way and its divisions have grown remarkably in their service to the community. Volunteer Action Center has increased the scope of the Americorps program, added Money Strong to educate residents in financial literacy and increased the army of volunteers through the expansion of Day of Caring and Day of Service.

United Way-211 has streamlined its operation and grown its database so that people in need of help can access it quickly. And, 211’s coordination of the School Supply and Christmas programs as part of a collaboration with several other agencies leads to almost 2,000 local children having what they need to start the school year, and receiving Christmas presents every year.

I’m still very proud of United Way’s accomplishments during my tenure, and Mark has carried on with expanding the scope of the work to a point where people in need are receiving assistance at an unprecedented level. The United Way Board of Directors, with Mark’s approval, allowed me to stay half-time to manage our buildings that house more than 50 human-service agencies and programs. Mark could have been wary of having “the ghost of Christmas past” hanging around, but he and I agreed on Day 1 that I would not interfere with his work. We respect each other’s territory and have developed a friendly and mutually respectful relationship. And this old man looks forward to going into my basement office for four or five hours a day, except when I don’t want to. (What a great schedule!)

United Way of Bartholomew County’s annual meeting is next Tuesday. Call 812-376-3001 for more information. And, please continue your support for this valuable organization.