Linda Yoder, the Executive Director of Marshall County United Way, and Brian Teall United Way Development Manager appeared before the Plymouth Common Council Monday evening to request financial support for this year.   

The pair asked members of the Plymouth City Council for $70,000 in funding to help the county’s food distribution efforts, as well as housing and utility assistance.   It was explained that Fund the Essentials 2 is an extension of the Fund the Essentials campaign that was initiated in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when $550,000 was gathered in 8 weeks to help those in need in the county. 

There has been a 40% increase in food pantry assistance this year and the county is looking for help including additional mobile food pantry distributions.

Yoder and Teall have given this presentation to the Marshall County Council and Commissioners and are requesting all municipal entities in the county.   

United Way has seen a drastic decrease in funding contributions since the pandemic and the pair discussed the obstacles they are facing.   Due to restrictions, United Way isn’t allowed to talk to employees about payroll deduction contributions as frequently as in the past.  Due to the large employee turnover, industries aren’t worried about getting employees signed up for United Way contributions, and of course, inflation has impacted contributions negatively.

Councilman Jeff Houin said, “The workplace campaign has always been a cornerstone of United Way’s fundraising.”  He said it’s a changing landscape and the workplace campaigns are not as effective or even available in many cases.  Houin asked them to explain how they are adapting to identify other ways to raise funds.

Brian Teall said The Blueberry Half Pot will help them try and leverage their ability to get a charity gaming license and do our first-ever 50-50 drawing during the Blueberry Festival to help bolster the campaign.  Teall said they are working to reengage with companies who have had campaigns in the past and are working to reimagine how United Way operates and find new ways to raise money.

Councilman Greg Compton made a motion to rescind $75,000 of the $175,000 allocated to Blue Zones this year and give that money to United Way’s Fund the Essentials 2 program.  Duane Culp seconded the motion.

Before voting, Councilman Robert Listenberger asked for an update on the Blue Zones before the funds are taken away from that project.  While in full support of the request, Listenberger wanted to discuss the idea with Clerk-Treasurer Lynn Gorski to determine the best funding source and wanted to table the request. 

Yoder said they will be renegotiating the contract with Blue Zones with downsizing from the initial project.  She said they have also received some funding from Indiana United Way which has a short timeframe that may be able to assist with the project.

City Attorney Sean Surrisi said the ARP Plan would need to be revised and an additional appropriation will need to be done before funds could be given to United Way. 

Houin said a pledge could be done now and then the funding process could be determined for the next meeting. 

Compton said he didn’t want to approve a pledge when it isn’t in the budget and Houin reminded him that the ARP funds for Blue Zones have not been appropriated in this year’s budget either.  He said, “Let’s grab $75,000 tonight.  Let’s get the people of Marshall County happy with United Way and reevaluate Blue Zones.” 

Mayor Senter called for a vote and the decision was unanimous with all 6 members of the City Council present voting yes.  Councilman Randy Longanecker was absent from the meeting.