United Way striving toward $42.5M donation goal

Tawnya McCrary coaches job seekers at the Edna Martin Christian Center.

United Way of Central Indiana has nearly 100 agencies located throughout the six-county region that provide a wide range of services to thousands of Hoosiers each year.

Right now, the clock is ticking for the agency to reach its goal of $42.5 million by the end of the month. The goal is important, because without that money, many Hoosiers may not get the help they need.

"If you don't have a GED, the first thing you need to do is get your GED, because you don't want to be stuck down here, dependant on assistance," said Tawnya McCrary.

McCrary is the manager of the Strategies To Empower and Promote Success program, or "STEPS," at the Edna Martin Christian Center in Indianapolis, a United Way-funded community center.

Since the 1940's, the Edna Center has offered education, mentoring and guidance to those who have had a tough time either finding, or keeping a job.

"We focus on presentation skills, getting the participants to learn about who they are, what they like, how to market their skills to employers," McCrary said.

Marsha Mann is one of the center's success stories. She now has a job she loves, working at Firehouse Subs in Castleton for the last seven months, but says it wasn't easy getting there. A year ago, her life was at the lowest point.

"I had to get a job. I needed a job," Mann said.

In debt, faced with eviction and nowhere to turn, she walked 16 blocks to the Edna Center and asked for help.

"I walked in there and they were open arms, they gave me food, they helped me, they helped my kids, they did everything they could to help me from getting evicted and they did just that," Mann said.

The most lasting effects were the job training and life skills she learned from the Edna Center.

"Getting a job is hard, keeping it is even harder. Man, I never knew that it would be so hard," Mann said.

She says she knows she found the Edna Center and "Coach Tawnya" just in time.

"I am so proud of Marsha. She has taken everything she has learned in training and just really blossomed into the person I knew was always there. I am just so thankful we were in a position to assist her," McCrary said.

She is looking forward to helping the next round of students, get ahead, and stay ahead in life.

Marsha's story is an example of how United Way Investments last year helped 5,000 Hoosiers find jobs through United Way-supported programs like the Edna Center.

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