Time “The hunger doesn’t go away. I never knew what ‘food insecurity’ meant until I experienced it myself.” —Bernice Helman
Contact Helman at
For more information
about the United Way
of Wabash Valley,
visit www.uw wv.org.
Her fearless dedication has inspired her to try
eye-catching antics that are unlikely to be found in
any fundraising textbook, like standing on the roof
of a grocery store for 12 hours in freezing rain, lowering and raising a bucket that passersby filled with
donations. There was also the time she performed in
Dancing with the Terre Haute Stars, which collected
$126,000 for the group CHANCES for Indiana Youth.
In addition to heading the local United Way’s
fundraising committee in its record-breaking year,
Helman has led or helped lead more fundraising
drives than her colleagues can tally up. Each event
generates tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Power of the Purse, one fundraiser she helped
spearhead, brought 200 women executives together
once a quarter for lunch and an auction. In one year,
the program raised $50,000 for Success by 6, a literacy program that helps disadvantaged children
learn to read by kindergarten.
Fears credits Helman with setting in motion a program to expand the local United Way’s donor base
by reaching beyond Terre Haute to nearby counties.
These counties, largely rural and with significant
rates of poverty, have long been on the receiving end
of the funds the United Way collects; now they’re on
the giving end, too. “We wanted people to know we
provided programming and funds to those counties
and to get the business people in them engaged,”
Helman is driven by an awareness of what her
fundraising accomplishes. She recalls one boy,
about 8 years old, who participated in a Christmas
store she helped organize for a local Catholic Charities organization a couple of years ago. Each child
was invited to select one gift.
The boy selected a doll. “I said to him, ‘Are you
sure you want a doll? Are you sure that’s what you
want to pick?’ And he said it was for his sister, that he
wanted her to have something to open on Christmas.
To be that young and worrying about that—it was a
moment that reminded me why we work so hard to
bring in donors and get business people to devote
their time to these e;orts. We do it for the kids. We
do it for all the people who need help.” ;