Nancy Signs Off

Signing off with much gratitude

Next month, my very capable friend, Jenni Marsh, will take up this opportunity to share information and ideas related to human service needs and activities in our community. Thanks to the generosity of The Herald Bulletin, I have been able to use my voice for a great many years in what I hope has been informative and helpful to you, the readers and residents of Madison County and east central Indiana.

United Way has been the focus of my career for 24 years and I head on to my next chapter with so much gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside the most wonderful people in the world. Individuals that choose to work and volunteer for nonprofit human services organizations are a special breed, but I am most in awe of those who are on the front lines serving individuals who are in great need daily. They have always had my utmost respect. It’s hard, often heartbreaking work.

I remember being excited about the talk of a changing world when I served on the United Way board in the mid-1990s. We were so sure when I joined the staff that we could proactively adapt to local economic changes that we began the 21st century by announcing the “New United Way.” Then….9/11, hurricane Katrina, closing of Guide Division, 2008 crash and … you know the rest.

However, we did make some good changes that have allowed the local nonprofit network to become more flexible in order to address emerging needs; to work in a more holistic way to address the interconnected issues of health, education and financial stability; to focus on disparities and inequity.

Internally, we adopted technology and adapted our practices as our traditional donor base rapidly diminished. Of course, the changes are ongoing and come even more quickly, and United Way, like all nonprofits – indeed all businesses – continues to adapt our business model to address the complex issues we hope to solve. The most visible change is the launch of Heart of Indiana United Way last summer – another “new” United Way.  But I’ve learned my lesson well. Change is ongoing.

What often doesn’t change or adapt quickly are our attitudes. I’m certainly old enough to feel nostalgic for the “good ole days,” but my feelings don’t solve the very real challenges we face today. We can learn from our past; however, and if there is one place to turn back the clock, it’s local community connections.  Somehow, we’ve got to harness our technology so that we don’t bypass our physical community. Face-to-face can’t become a relic of the past.

I am grateful to The Herald Bulletin for continuing to provide a forum for local news and connections. I am grateful to every person who has ever donated any amount of their hard-earned money to United Way. I am grateful to every person who has taken time to volunteer to help someone in need. I am grateful to have worked with the Rockstars at the Anderson office – Kim Williams, Karen Hemberger, Kim Rogers-Hatfield, Julie Barton, Lynn Silvey – and before them, Bill Pitts and Nancy Anderson. Thank you, everyone. Carry on.

Nancy Vaughan will retire as chief operating officer of Heart of Indiana United Way on June 30.