The United Way of Vermillion, along with its donors and stakeholders, opened a center in Vermillion to serve community members in a more efficient way.
The organization bought the former True Value, located between the Old Lumber Company and the Hartford Steakhouse. Now, non-profit organizations, like the food pantry and the Welcome Table, are all able to be in one place, the Community Connection Center (CCC).
In 2010, the census recorded that Vermillion’s poverty rate was at nearly 40 percent, which came as a surprise to many community members.
“It was like 38 percent … it just didn’t match up with what everybody saw in the community,” Kelsey Collier-Wise, Executive Director of United Way Vermillion said.
To try and tackle this issue, United Way of Vermillion pulled together stakeholders to create the Clay County poverty task force. In past years, the town offered things like a food pantry and the Welcome Table, however, Collier-Wise said those organizations were growing out of their locations.
“United Way of Vermillion received an estate gift from Bonnie and Vern Anderson estate and that really allowed us to start looking seriously at buying a building,” Collier-Wise said.
Having organizations like the food pantry and the Welcome Table in one building allows for community members to get the help they need more efficiently.
“I always say that as the mother of two children in car seats that the value of having a one-stop shop for services cannot be overvalued,” Ellie Pyles, the community impact director for United Way Vermillion said. “That is a great value for the folks that we serve.”
The Evan Project diaper bank is also located in the new building, as well as the 211 Helpline Center. The Salvation Army and Lutheran Social Services are also planning to make the move in that building next month.
“Once we are able to better meet the needs that exist in our community, then we can start branching out in other areas,” Pyles said. “There are a lot of unmet needs out there and I think that we’ll be able to help meet those in constructive ways in the future.”
Since all of the organizations in the CCC are non-profit, they rely on donations and volunteers.
“There are also opportunities for service-learning if there are folks that want to do research or work on very specific, maybe marketing projects or if there are graphic design or art students that want to be involved in something,” Collier-Wise said. “There’s ways to plug-in for just about any major or interest.”
Students in need are welcome to utilize the services in the CCC, including the 211 Helpline Center.
“If you’re a student and you’re wondering when the DMV opens or how to get to the library, or can I get a library card, where do I register to vote,” Collier-Wise said. “Or if you’re a student that is in a violent relationship or is contemplating suicide, those are all things that 211 can deal with and it’s available 24-7, 365 days a year.”