United Way of Central Indiana will host its second Go All IN Day June 24 across the region

By Margaret Matray, communications manager, United Way of Central Indiana

In the September sun, volunteers armed with flyers and trash grabbers fanned out across the 900 block of North Delaware Street in Indianapolis.

They passed out snacks to neighbors and told them about the services offered at Recovery Café Indy. They spread the word about the cafe’s upcoming anniversary barbecue. And they plucked garbage from bushes, curbs and fences.

Recovery Café Indy was one of several dozen organizations that participated last year in United Way of Central Indiana’s first Go All IN Day, an organized day of volunteering and community service across the region. More than 500 volunteers tackled over 70 projects, including assembling care kits for seniors, mulching playgrounds, planting community gardens and stocking food pantries.

As a result of the event, Recovery Café recruited a handful of new long-term volunteers, and nearly 80 people attend its anniversary celebration, said Aubre Jean, the cafe’s program manager. Go All IN Day also helped the cafe’s members connect with new people and feel supported, she said.

“It felt like we were coming together as a community to do something important, to help maintain the neighborhood and to share the word,” Jean said. “It was awesome because it was not just our organization doing this – the whole entire Indianapolis community was doing something to give back.”

United Way will host this year’s Go All IN Day on June 24 and hopes to grow the event in its second year – with more volunteers and more projects across Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion, Morgan and Putnam counties. The nonprofit is currently recruiting interested volunteers, nonprofits, community groups and grassroots organizations at uwci.org/go-all-in-day.

In the coming months, organizations with an annual operating budget of $1 million or less will be able to apply for small grants to fund their projects. And United Way will help connect volunteers to projects leading up to the event.

For last year project, Recovery Café received a $500 micro-grant that went toward supplies for the neighborhood clean-up and refreshments for volunteers to enjoy while networking after.

Jean saw Go All IN Day as a way to bring together different organizations that share a common goal of helping others. The event also built on the cafe’s efforts to get members walking outside and keep the block clean, as Recovery Café had “adopted” its street through Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

Recovery Café operates under the nonprofit We Bloom and is part of a network of cafes across the country. It launched out of a space at Horizon House several years ago and is now located inside the Unity of Indianapolis building.

The cafe serves people in recovery – not solely from substance use but also from domestic violence, trauma, mental health struggles, homelessness and other challenges. It offers programs, connects people to services and hosts recovery circles facilitated by trained peer recovery coaches.

Jean said the cafe provides a loving environment. Many members attend daily because it’s their community — a place to belong. There, they can share a cup of coffee or a meal from the nonprofit Second Helpings.

For Go All IN Day, Jean set a goal of recruiting 25 volunteers but exceeded that with nearly 40. Top leaders from United Way and volunteers from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and First Financial Bank, which helps fund the cafe, all participated – along with cafe members and staff.

Peter Hanscom, United Way’s vice president of marketing and digital engagement, had often driven by the cafe but didn’t know what it did. Hanscom and his family have places where they normally volunteer and give back, but Go All IN Day gave him an opportunity to get out of that comfortable pattern and meet new people and organizations.

After handing out flyers about the cafe that day, Hanscom and the other volunteers toured the facility, learned about its mission and talked with members about their recovery stories.

“The sacrifice of just one day gave me an appetite to stay involved outside of the ways I normally would have,” Hanscom said.

Jean said Recovery Café is still working on its plans for this year’s Go All IN Day. But she’s already reserved a spot online.

The event gives organizations a chance to connect, be creative and recruit more volunteers than they normally would to finish a project.

“It felt amazing to have people from these organizations come and support,” Jean said. “And what it showed is that we are supported and we are seen for the work that we do.

“For any organization who wants to feel connected to that bigger picture and give back in any way – it’s an opportunity to do so.”
To learn more about Recovery Café Indy, go to www.recoverycafeindy.org.

Volunteers and organizations interested in participating in this year’s Go All IN Day can learn more and sign up at uwci.org/go-all-in-day.

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