ANDERSON — Debt, rent and work – four-letter words that people within the community struggle with every day. They were also the answers to some of the entertainment featured during the United Way of Madison County’s Community Game Night.
More than 100 people attended the annual event where teams squared off to compete in a game similar to NBC’s television show “Hollywood Game Night.”
“It’s been different every year,” said Nancy Vaughan, president of the United Way of Madison County. “I loved this one. I thought the format was wonderful.”
Organizers used the games to highlight the organization’s efforts and raise awareness on the issues they address including coaching clients through the THRIVE Network, providing free tax preparation to low-income families, improving the quality of child care and giving utility assistance to struggling families during the winter.
United Way fell slightly short of its $800,091 campaign goal for 2017, projecting its total in corporate gifts and workplace campaigns to be $722,000. The funding will be used to provide assistance and services to families and individuals throughout the county.
Vaughan said this is the fifth year they have held a game night to help engage those who attend the annual United Way meeting.
“Hopefully people get something out of it,” she said with a laugh. “It’s not as dry as me spouting off we do this and we do that, but to make it work we have to have a lot of good sports.”
The United Way of Madison County also named its volunteers of the year which included Annachristina Rouse, better known by her friends and colleagues as Chris, and Angela Cassidy.
Rouse was named the RSVP of the Year. RSVP is the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
Vaughan said the program is a great fit for United Way.
“It’s volunteering, but it’s kind of volunteering with an agenda,” she said.
Established in 1971, RSVP is a part of Senior Corps, a network of national and community service programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The corporation strives to improve lives, strengthen communities and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. United Way of Madison County has sponsored RSVP since 2009.
This isn’t the first time Rouse has been recognized for her volunteer service. She has also been named a volunteer of the year for the Salvation Army, United Way officials said.
After retiring from Vectren, Rouse now serves as a volunteer secretary for the Madison County Builders and the Doll Circle of Indianapolis. She also reads to small groups of children as part of RSVP’s Pre-K Buddy project.
The project uses reading to help improve both social and language skills.
“If you can get a kid to love a book, you can change their life for the positive,” Rouse said about her work with the children. “You don’t do it for the accolades, you do it for them.”
She said reading to the children requires patience, a broad mind and a big heart.
Rouse was nominated for the RSVP award by Shelley Caldwell, the principal for Southview Preschool. In her nomination, Caldwell said Rouse “is always cheerful and consistently makes students feel comfortable while reading.”
United Way of Madison County honored Cassidy with its Volunteer of the Year Award.
Cassidy is a lifelong resident of Elwood who has served on the United Way board since 2009. In addition to her work on the board, Cassidy is also a RSVP participant volunteering as a reader for Elwood Community Schools and St. Vincent Mercy Hospital Foundation.
She volunteers at East Main Street Christian Church in Elwood, and at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in California, as a reading tutor for second-graders at Borrego Springs Elementary and at the Borrego Springs Art Institute.
Vaughan said all of the volunteers at United Way “are fabulous” and many hold full-time jobs in addition to attending meetings, making phone calls and donating their time to help those in need.
“It’s a lot to ask of people and they are willing to do it,” she said. “We can’t be grateful enough.”