The 2023 United Way campaign is underway at Notre Dame and at workplaces throughout St. Joseph County. It’s an opportunity for people employed by local businesses and institutions to invest in the community by assisting those who live on the margins.
If you are interested in contributing, but would like to know a little more about United Way’s approach, read on and embark on a virtual visit to the OneRoof Southeast Neighborhood Center.
Located at the corner of Dubail and Fellows streets in South Bend, the OneRoof center opened in 2022 and is operated by United Way of St. Joseph County (UWSJC).
“It’s the living, breathing version of what the United Way has always done. We have convened resources and expertise to meet the greatest needs in the community,” Lauren Smyth, UWSJC’s vice president of mission advancement, said.
OneRoof shares United Way’s commitment to partner with local nonprofits to reduce poverty. Through services that target four focus areas — education, health, economic mobility and safety net services — United Way tackles the underlying issues that cause poverty.
“In this one center, under one roof, we have an early childhood learning center, youth and senior services, rotating social service agencies, health services, and other community programs on a regular basis,” Mark Herriman, executive vice president of OneRoof, said.
There’s a reason this neighborhood was chosen as the first of four planned OneRoof centers in the county.
“We are located in a neighborhood where the greatest need exists to try to increase the impact we can make. We provide traction for our partners and the neighborhood so people can achieve connections and improve their circumstances,” he said.
Future centers are planned for Walkerton, Mishawaka and northwest South Bend.
Time for a fresh approach
OneRoof is an example of some things UWSJC is doing differently.
“In our nearly 100 years, our goal has been to create long-lasting change by addressing the underlying causes of community problems. In response to listening, we have learned a lot and we are evolving,” Smyth said.
Even how OneRoof is funded is different. UWSJC’s annual workplace campaign does not subsidize the center. The agencies that occupy the space pay a discounted rent, and one year in, the center is in the black.
Two other major United Way efforts are funded by the campaign: United Neighborhoods and United St. Joseph County.
Efforts funded by your dollars
United Neighborhoods is a new and targeted approach to tackle factors that contribute to poverty.
“We’ve established United Neighborhoods to make sure that education, health, economic mobility and safety net services are top priorities in neighborhoods identified as having the greatest need. In 2024, United Neighborhoods grants will be used to bring new or sustain existing programs for residents living in one of three ZIP codes that OneRoof Southeast serves: 46601, 46613 and 46614,” Smyth said.
As future OneRoof centers are developed and open, United Neighborhood Grants will be initiated in those neighborhoods.
United St. Joseph County, meanwhile, is the traditional method United Way employs to award grants and fund impact programs that support the entire county.
Thank you, ahead of time
The United Way campaign at Notre Dame is active through Friday, Dec. 1. Smyth and Herriman invite all faculty and staff to kindly consider a gift to United Way of St. Joseph County.
“We can’t do this alone,” Herriman said.
“United Neighborhoods and United St. Joseph County can’t happen without your help. A gift to United Way becomes a gift to the entire community,” Smyth said, adding that she would like to thank, in advance, those who choose to contribute.
“If this will be your first time giving to the United Way, thank you. If you are renewing your gift, thank you. If you are taking the bold step to give more, thank you for deepening your commitment to our community. United as One, we can make this happen.”