Imagine you’re working two part-time jobs to support your family, just barely making ends meet. Then, your car breaks down…or you have an unexpected medical emergency that leaves you drowning in debt. Now you have a choice: pay your bill or feed your family. In Vermillion, this is an everyday occurrence. With a poverty rate of over 35%, and a food insecurity rate that is nearly double that of our neighboring counties (17%), financial insecurity is commonplace.
United Way of Vermillion and our partner organizations work hard every day to provide a hand up to those that are struggling to get by. The Vermillion Food Pantry provides around 50-70 pounds of fresh produce, meat, bread, dairy, and non-perishable foods to families at each monthly visit. The Welcome Table ensures families receive a warm, home-cooked meal every Monday night. The Weekend Backpack Program sends hundreds of kids home from school with enough food to make sure they can eat over the weekend. The Salvation Army gives emergency assistance to families that are facing a utility shut-off or struggling to get to a medical appointment. And the United Way partners with these and other programs all across the community to ensure that families have basic needs met, get help in times of crisis, and increase stability.
While our independent organizations provide much-needed services, our ever-increasing clientele shows us that we can do better. Over the past several years, we have been developing partnerships between our organizations like never before, starting with United Way of Vermillion’s Clay County Poverty Task Force, which brought together stakeholders to discuss how we could better address this pressing issue in our community. We’ve transferred excess food and supplies to each other, joined together to put on massive food giveaways that have fed thousands of people, and realized the inefficiencies of directing families across town from one service to another. As our alliance has deepened, we’ve realized the solution.
We envision a Community Connection Center will be a place where those in need can receive assistance, moving from crisis to stability, and ultimately, self-sufficiency. The Center will serve as a one-stop-shop for multiple services, including, but not limited to, United Way of Vermillion, the Vermillion Food Pantry, the Weekend Backpack Program, The Welcome Table, and Salvation Army.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Vermillion’s history is full of people who have left incredible legacies – ordinary folks who have championed important projects, and given their time, talent, and treasure to meet the needs of the community. Through their generous estate gift to United Way of Vermillion, Verne and Bonnie Anderson chose to create such legacy. The gift already allowed United Way to bring the 211 helpline to Clay County in 2017, and now will support the creation of a vital community resource – The Community Connection Center.
Bonnie and Verne Anderson were longtime fixtures in the Vermillion community, active members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Vermillion High School alumni, and avid pilots. The two were married in 1952. Verne farmed on his family’s land, and was known for his unique sense of humor and as a nationally-ranked trap shooter. Bonnie served as assistant to six University of South Dakota presidents. Her dynamic personality and indispensable value to USD led Gov. Janklow to name June 24, 1986 as Bonnie Haines Anderson Day. Bonnie passed away in 2011, followed by Verne in 2016. Through their estate, the Andersons remembered multiple community organizations, including United Way of Vermillion, the W.H. Over Museum, the University of South Dakota Foundation, and the Vermillion Public Library.
WHAT WE STAND FOR
We believe that every family should have access to the essentials of life and the support necessary to become self-sufficient. We believe our one-stop-shop model of support is the best way to 1) address the myriad of needs that accompany poverty in our community, and 2) increase the effectiveness of and efficiency between our organizations.
HOW IT WILL WORK
When a family arrives at the Community Connection Center they will be greeted with warmth and dignity. They will be guided to the service that they need, and now, instead of receiving only one form of community assistance, we will be able to direct them to any other resources that could help, just down the hall!
Our organizations will be in a better place to collaborate on big-picture ways to address the poverty in our community. We can not only focus on taking care of the line, but on shortening it. And we can eliminate duplicated services, saving the time of our volunteers and the funding of our donors. It’s a win-win.
We see a place where we will not only offer our basic services, but expand over time to include health screenings, dental cleanings, cooking classes, financial literacy training, and much more. As we involve more and more partners across the community, this will become a reality. Will you join us?
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We have always known the immense support of our community. Our organizations have survived for decades only because of the generosity of people like you. Now, we are asking for your help in becoming even more effective. Whether you prefer to give with anonymity or desire naming rights, please consider the exceptional return on investment that we offer our community. You will immediately feel the satisfaction of giving your neighbors a hand up to a life of self-sufficiency and the great sense of accomplishment that you have helped a vital community organization.
Donations in support of the Community Connection Center can be:
- Mailed to United Way of Vermillion
PO Box 216
Vermillion, SD 57069
(make sure to indicate ‘CCC’ in the memo line)
- Dropped off at CorTrust Bank
- Given online
Please contact us for more information about sponsorship and naming opportunities.