The Impact of the Community Impact Fund

Frank and Lillian McCollugh have been married for 75 years.  But when Lillian was rear-ended by a semi on Route 33 three years ago, it rendered her in need of help around the house.  
“I wasn't able to do a whole lot of cooking and fixing after the accident,” the 92-year old Bellefontaine resident admitted.  
Enter LifeCare Alliance, which provides the McCollughs with free, home-delivered “meals-on-wheels” every day.
“This is a blessing for those in worse condition than my wife and I are in,” Frank said.  “I can go out and get myself a hamburger, but some people aren't even able to do that.  So I appreciate these meals that are being sent.  You keep it up!”
But LifeCare Alliance is having trouble keeping up.  Since COVID, they’ve had a 40 percent increase in homebound senior citizens signing up for the program with no sign of decrease.  Now approaching 300 clients receiving daily meals in Logan County, this unexpected surge in use is straining their budget and stressing the need for volunteer drivers to adopt routes. 
A new $15,000 grant awarded last month from our United Way Community Impact Fund will help the agency make ends meet so they can continue to deliver for the McColloughs and hundreds like them.
It was a start-up grant from United Way’s Community Impact Fund in 2014 that helped LifeCare Alliance establish their meals-on-wheels program in Logan County in the first place.  The agency has been receiving funding from our annual campaign ever since.     
“If we had to pay drivers to do this, we would go bankrupt,” said Claire Eastman, Director of Corporate & Community Engagement for LifeCare Alliance.  “It would be over a couple thousand dollars a day, close to $500,000 a year to deliver meals.  Having volunteers allows us to put that money back into our program and serve more clients.  We could not deliver meals in Logan County without United Way support.”  
That’s what the Community Impact Fund is here for.  Yes, your annual United Way gift supports 51 Logan County programs of 32 funded agencies that are announced at the start of each year.  But we hold back a portion of each fall campaign ($150,000 in 2021) to use as needed through the course of the following year.   
That came in really handy in 2020, when COVID-19 unexpectedly wrought financial and mental hardship.  We did not have to approach the community to give to a special relief fund.  We simply tapped into our existing Community Impact Fund to help our local partners pivot and respond.  When two flooding storms struck Logan County in 2019, the Logan County EMA received an emergency grant to help families with their recovery efforts.
The Community Impact Fund is also used to help start new programs that have great potential or can enhance neighborhoods.  For instance, TCN’s domestic violence shelter, the Soteria House, got it’s start with the help of a $20,000 in 2015 that served as the necessary local match to draw down $416,000 in state funding.  The Splash Pad in West Liberty’s Lions Park, the new boardwalk at Myeerah Nature Preserve, and the inclusive playground at Mary Rutan Park in Bellefontaine are three recent examples of park projects funded in part through the Community Impact Fund.
$112,060 has already been awarded through the Fund through the first seven months of this year to 11 projects that advance the health, education, and financial stability of our community.
For instance, this summer a group of community partners came together to address the shortage of affordable, quality child care in Logan County.  A $30,000 Community Impact Fund grant was awarded in July to the Central Ohio YMCA to help the organization, which successfully operates 75 child care facilities throughout the region to start up a new center this fall in Bellefontaine.  The program will create up to 50 slots of availability.

Drew Shick has been leading the after-school and summer programs at the Chippewa Neighborhood Outreach Center for two decades.  When the van he’s been using for 15 years to take kids to and from activities broke down this spring and was deemed unsafe for transport, a $25,000 United Way grant helped the Center obtain a new vehicle.

A $1,410 grant to the Mary Rutan Foundation provided support to conduct the Community Needs Assessment which identifies gaps in the social service network and helps us determine funding priorities. 
And an $8,000 grant to Think Tank in Springfield made United Way eligible to be an AmeriCorps VISTA site, allowing us to bring in Amber Seeley, a 2019 Indian Lake grad to serve 40 hours / week for an entire year to work on projects like Stuff the Bus, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, and our Housing Stability Program.  

If your program or organization would like to apply for a Community Impact Fund grant, please click here.  Applications are reviewed monthly.