Dozens of Henry County women flexed their collective philanthropic muscle Tuesday night during the Women’s Circle of Friends Gala, an outreach of the Henry County Community Foundation. Each woman donated at least $50 for the opportunity to listen and vote as representatives from three local non-profits told about their organizations. The $5,027 collected was pooled to benefit the charity receiving the most votes.
The women awarded The Guest House, a New Castle men’s shelter at 1407 Walnut St., with the check.
Two runners-up each took home $225. They were Healthy Communities of Henry County and Friends of Sunset Park of Knightstown.
Moments after accepting the night’s largest monetary award, Jeff Morton, board chair of the men’s shelter, said winning was fantastic. “I just never knew there was such a great need in the county. We’re just very grateful.”
It’s a need that Morton learned to appreciate. Currently, there are 23 male residents in rooms made into dorms in the one-time high school. Morton explained that some of the men who stay there literally have no other place to go. Some have been released from prison and have been known to sleep on the ground behind a local church.
The Guest House goals for the men include a four-point plan:
1. Provide emergency food and shelter for homeless men. 2. Teach them life skills in a healthy, safe environment. 3. Offer the life-saving, life-changing message of Jesus Christ. 4. Help them find jobs.
He says of the men currently at the shelter, almost all are working. Transportation is provided along with training and education. A long-term goal is to find them permanent housing.
There is no government or other funding other than donations from area churches and people with the same passion as those who volunteer for The Guest House. Tuesday’s monetary award will go toward operational expenses.
Receiving $225 was Healthy Communities of Henry County, represented by board member JoAnne McCorkle. She spoke of how the organization works in a variety of ways including maintaining the Henry County Fun Park, hosting a 5-k run and walk, bike ride, giving away 1,000 trees, hosting an Earth Day Celebration and International Walk to School Day among other projects.
She said how phase one of the Wilbur Wright Trail has been completed with plans in the works to extend it.
Speaking on behalf of Friends of Sunset Park in Knightstown was Erma Keller. Keller explained how the community pulled together and found avenues to raise money for water features in their park. Next phase includes extensive bathhouse renovations. Her project also received $225.
“This group encourages women like me,” she said. “Let’s keep going women. We can make a difference.”
Henry County Community Foundation Executive Director Beverly Matthews also announced that the Women’s Circle of Friends Endowment granted $670 to Interlocal Community Action Program for the Women and Child Clinic located on site. Nancy Lewis directs the clinic and told a touching story of a woman who could not afford a mammogram. She learned of the ICAP mammogram program and got a screening. She had stage-four breast cancer due to waiting so long to be screened. Lewis reported that she is now doing well.
Encouraged by the event was Joyce Miller of New Castle. “I just think if you can get a group of women motivated to improve a situation, they’ll get it done.” She said New Castle is her hometown.
“I still believe in it,” she added, saying that there are a lot of good not-for-profits at work.