Brown County Humane Society

Little Libby is one of the many furry friends that call Brown County their home.

Jane takes Roonie out to play.

Many are proud to call Brown County their home.

Whether you’ve got two legs…or four, you are always welcomed. Tucked inside the Brown County Humane Society, you will always find a place to belong as a volunteer, like Jane (pictured), or a shelter animal, like Rooney (pictured).

With a mission focused on not only helping the non-human members of our community, the Brown County Humane Society reaches out to educate and provide resources for us Brown Countians to become better pet owners.

The Humane Society is especially proud of their mobile outreach program supported by the BCCF and launched in 2010. The program sought to identify pet owners’ needs, provide spay & neutering services, and offering food & straw for our community’s favorite furry friends!

BCCF grants funded fencing for a new play area at the Humane Society.

Since starting their outreach program, Brown County has seen a 50% decrease in the number of pets needed to be sheltered here in the community.

Jane Weatherford, Treasurer of the Brown County Humane Society looks forward to seeing the growth in both their services and relationship with the BCCF. “It’s like they’ve been a partner with us from the beginning,” notes Jane. No matter your breed, BCCF & the Humane Society are dedicated to helping you love (& give) where you live.

ACCESS Brown County

You’ve seen the white vans roaming the streets of Nashville, Columbus, and even Bloomington. They’re decorated with the Access Brown County logo and filled with members of our community.

This low-cost transportation service is wheelchair accessible and they’ll even come straight to your door. Gary Dewees has been driving one of the Access Brown County vans for over a year now but the gratitude he’s seen could fill a lifetime.

It helps people not able to help themselves as they get from point A to point B.” For whatever reason you may need a set of wheels, Gary (and his fellow drivers) are there to take you where you need to go and to help you get where you need to be on time. “This provides a service to them, a service that is invaluable,” Dewees states.

In his time with Access, Gary says that it’s the little remarks people make as they step out of the vehicle and say goodbye that remind him why their service is so important. “’We really thank you so much’ they’d tell me. We would not have been able to make it to our doctor’s appointment, etc. if you guys weren’t here.” He and the rest of the staff at Access BC have driven clients as far as the other side of Monroe County to ensure that transportation is never a barrier to our community. Wherever you find yourself in life or in Brown County, the BCCF & Access BC are here to take you places.

Brown County 4-H & Purdue Extension Office

A 4-H Camper, Jamie, poses with her cow Stu during the 2017 county fair.

“What I like most about 4-H Camp is that their different activities help me to learn more about myself and my society…and they have good food!” says Jamie, a 12-year old camper from Brown County. Together with our local Extension Office, the BCCF believes that all youth in our community should have the opportunity to attend 4-H programs that are instrumental in social, personal, and citizenship development. These programs range from Round-Up (a career exploration weekend at Purdue University) to the annual 4-H Camp (gathering youth from Southeastern Indiana for a week of learning and life lessons). With the help of BCCF grants, each participant receives a partial scholarship to offset some of the program cost and can even apply for a stipend to cover the entire fee. Our local Extension Educators have seen firsthand and over time how these programs act as a gateway for youth to become involved in their community. Former Educator Lisa Wilson says that she often saw young kids “sign up (for 4-H) just to go to camp…and then end up connected.” Current Educator Alyssa Besser sees the big impact these programs have on the future of our community, our country, and our world. From Besser’s standpoint, “Our kids learn leadership and how to stand apart. That’s what we’re going to want to see in our leaders in 20 years.” The 4-H program’s most cherished event of the year, the county fair, is when the 4-H’ers come together to showcase their hard work for the community. Besser especially loves the fair for the way that “everyone is represented”. From 4-Hers, to community leaders, townspeople, and visitors; come fair week, everyone has a place to be connected.

Brown County Solid Waste Management District

Image result for recycling plasticWhat do you love about Brown County?

Many residents or visitors would agree that it’s the beautiful terrain, spectacular vistas, and small-town ambiance that give our county its charm. Working hard to help sustain our native environment are the employees of the Brown County Solid Waste Management District (BC SWMD) under the leadership of Director Phil Stephens. Working with a limited tax base, but seeing a critical need to maintain and expand local solid waste services, Director Stephens turned to the BCCF as a community resource. In 2016, the BC SWMD was awarded a grant towards buying a perforator to increase the plastic packing effectiveness and efficiency for staff. The perforator is just one progressive step their facility is taking to expand their services and programs such as Adopt a Road and the Keep Brown County Beautiful affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Director Stephens praises the BCCF’s help saying, “bottom line, it has supported us with extra funding and enabled our operations to run efficiently.” Director Stephens has shown his passion for protecting the environment for over 30 years. “I feel the BC SWMD has made Brown County a cleaner and more beautiful place to live,” he says. He hopes that others realize the importance of caring for their community by recycling, not littering, taking advantage of their trash disposal programs, supporting State funding, and donating rather than discarding usable household items such as furniture. As our community grows, so does the need for every individual to care for it. Together with BC SWMD and all of you, the BCCF proudly works hard to keep the things we love about our county beautiful.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Brown County

“You don’t know the whole story. What we give them, we give from our hearts.” The late Sister Mildred Wannemuelher’s encouragement has become the driving force behind many volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul’s of Brown County. This devotion and service to their community keeps the volunteers coming back, “even to help bag pantry groceries when they’re 91 years old” volunteer Brenda Green says. Since their beginnings back in the 1980’s, this SVPD location has seen a lot of growth within their walls and priceless gratitude from those they give to. “When we first started, we were just in a little room giving away furniture and clothing,” said Jim, one of the founding members and a dedicated volunteer of the Brown County conference of Saint Vincent de Paul. Today, their service includes a food pantry, and with the help of BCCF grants: a heated expansion, efficient shelving, and a Back to School voucher program. With the aid of the BCCF, the Back to School voucher program distributes vouchers to pantry eligible families with school age children. In 2017, 308 Brown County children were given vouchers. These vouchers could be used for school appropriate shoes, socks, and school supplies. SVDP provides free warehouse items to support 500+ families in our community annually. Founded on faith and fueled by fidelity, what the volunteers give, they truly give from their hearts.

Brown County Art Gallery

A picture is worth a thousand words. For Brown County, the pictures created by our artists don’t just bring to life any story, but breathe life into the words of our story. Lyn Letsinger-Miller is one of the many locals at the Brown County Art Gallery that work to preserve these visual tales. “The gallery was a very important partner for those artists” she says, “It tells Brown County stories. It combines great stories with beautiful pictures.” Since their opening in 1926, the gallery has grown to become one of the biggest art centers in the Midwest. With the increasing demand for more stories, the gallery knew that in order to continue providing low-cost space and support for their artists, they needed to expand. “Now,” Letsinger-Miller says, “we can do it all.” Their new expansion allows them to host a diverse range of special exhibits, workshops, and studio space without interfering with the usual exhibits. In addition to supporting the physical expansion of the gallery, the BCCF helped nurture connections between organizations that support the gallery’s mission. “Making partnerships like with the BCCF,” Letsinger-Miller says, “it’s these relationships that you build that you might not otherwise.” Throughout county history, our artists have thrived on the principle that art is not just meant to be created, but to be shared. In Brown County there is a deep desire for those stories to be told and the Brown County Art Gallery shares them beautifully.

Brown County YMCA

“We’re here for anyone. We don’t turn anyone away. Many friendships and relationships met here at the Y. There are lots of little communities inside this building”, says Kim Robinson, director of the Brown County YMCA. Though our YMCA is one of the smallest in the nation, the impact it has on the members’ lives is immense. The YMCA serves the community as an outlet for improving physical health, providing ACCESS (the only public transportation in town), free senior lunches, and being a designated Red Cross shelter among many other services. We see its widespread results, but few know of its beginnings. Through one of the phases of the Lilly Endowment GIFT Initiative to improve communities on a large scale, BCCF helped fund the initial creation of this treasured community center. As Robinson puts it, “We are much more than just swim & gym…the Foundation helps us to continue serving the public.” Programs are continually being developed to support strong lifestyles in our citizens at every stage of life. With a boost from the BCCF, the YMCA started a free Senior Strength & Balance class. The class acted as a precursor of our Silver Sneakers program. Since the beginning, this program has grown from a group of 5 or 6 seniors to over 50 members actively attending programs three times a week. Robinson and her staff continue to carry on the YMCA mission, “We’re here to serve our community, to make Nashville and Brown County a healthy community; not just physically but mentally too.” BCCF is proud to support these ‘little communities’ like the YMCA that represents our greater Brown County community.

Brown County Enrichment for Teens (BETA)

Behind the handcrafted mosaic sign gathers a group of kids that represent our next generation. Within those walls, a troupe of teens that hold within them our future. “There’s not really anywhere for kids. BETA inspires me to get out there,” says Eli, a homeschooler and teen advisor for the Brown County Enrichment for Teen’s Association (BETA) board. BETA began in 2011 simply as a safe space, but their vision has grown to become a priceless place for youth to be educated, experience, and explore the world around them and the future ahead of them. The BCCF funded a series of free sessions for BETA teens to not only learn about themselves and their community, but also how to merge the two together to make a difference. Alongside motivational speakers and hands-on projects, one of the teens’ favorite sessions was a drum circle led by a former BCCF scholarship recipient. President Clara Stanley refers to the Foundation as “the main backbone” for our community because “without constant, steady help, not-for-profits can’t survive.” With the energy and enthusiasm that fuels the program’s work, Clara says, “I can’t thank enough the Foundation. They are the roots of all these value creating not-for-profits, like BETA, success and prosperity.” Over 450 community teens have been a part of BETA’s programs, helping them to discover their passions in a healthy and meaningful way. Helping them look forward to their future helps us to create a better one for our community. As Clara says, it helps them “stand on their feet and get going.”

Bean Blossom Farmer's Market / St. David's Church

“We’re in a food desert up here,” says Marilyn Day, noting the limited options of fresh foods and goods available to Bean Blossom residents. Every Friday in May through September, philanthropy and entrepreneurship make the perfect blend at the farmer’s market in Bean Blossom. With a BCCF grant, the market hired a local contractor to build a storage shed to hold their tables, chairs, tents, and signage. “Before, we had stuff in four different places” market volunteer Marilyn Day recollects. “It saves us at least an hour and a half every day.” Both the vendors and volunteers benefit from the storage shed. Easing set-up helps to ensure that the vendors can focus on providing low cost quality goods & foods to the community. And for the volunteers, they’re able to use more of their time making the market a gem of Bean Blossom. As an outreach of St. David’s Episcopal Church, service is the key ingredient in their mission. “We have a client who is handicapped,” volunteer Donna Niednagel says, “She would pull in and give our vendor rep money and we would go shop the market for her.” Continuing to benefit residents and visitors, the market is a symbol of the community’s strength and vitality. “Brown County was originally an agricultural area that morphed toward tourism. I think we’re a good medium,” Day states. “We connect people to good and to the community to help Bean Blossom grow again.”

Jackson Township Fire Department

Response is everyone’s responsibility, especially in situations where each minute counts. When a little boy from Helmsburg and his family found themselves surrounded by the blaze of a home fire, it was his quick thinking that led them to safety. As smoke surrounded them, the boy put into action a home fire escape plan that he had learned in his fourth-grade classroom not too long before. The family says they believe his knowledge of the plan was crucial to their survival that day. Fire Chief Glenn Elmore tells this story as a testament to the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department’s Partners in Prevention outreach program, an effort funded by the BCCF begun in 2000. It is still one of JTFD’s most prevalent outreach programs presented in school classrooms, at the Humane Society, the Family Care Center, the YMCA, and at American corporations. These faithful firefighters educate and demonstrate throughout Brown County, Bloomington, Columbus, and Shelbyville. Our community continually congregates in times of need, much like the boy and his family did when they found themselves faced with a home fire. As Elmore encourages, “Brown County has had a history of residents coming together during an emergency and in the majority of cases it’s a volunteer effort. Volunteerism is alive and well today with our fire department and we see that as we grow, we become more of a vital lifeline to the community.”

Career Resource Center of Brown County

It was Alexander Graham Bell who said that “When one door closes, another one opens”, but it’s stepping into the Brown County Career Resource Center where his words come to life. Cherished as a resource for a hand up in academic and professional pursuits, “The CRC not only benefits people and families, but the community as a whole benefits”, as Director Dave Bartlett states. The establishment of the CRC itself traces back to BCCF funds granted through the Lilly Endowment’s Community Alliance for Promoting Education (CAPE) grant in 2001. Since then, it has been established as a place of professional, academic, and personal growth. Of their many services, the CRC offers community college classes and facilitates a GED tutoring program in the Brown County Jail. Beyond grants, the BCCF cultivates a lasting connection between the CRC and other charitable organizations. One such organization is the Smithville Charitable Foundation. Working collaboratively with Smithville and the BCCF, the CRC was recently able to make improvements to their building including soundproofing their walls and adding a room divider that allows them to use their space for anything from instruction to celebrations. Whether you’re walking through the doors of the CRC for the first time or the hundredth time, there is always something new to be discovered and learned. And each time you pass through that entryway, you open your future to a community of possibilities. It’s these moments, inside the walls of the CRC, that individuals hold up their achievements and say, “I did it!” Even more than that, Brown County as a whole can hold up these individuals in high esteem and proudly say, “We did it!”

American Red Cross

What’s your response to a natural disaster? Following their mission to alleviate human suffering, the American Red Cross created a nationwide home fire prevention campaign in 2014. Through the program, residents could make free of charge smoke detector installation appointments and the Red Cross volunteers would aid them in creating a personal evacuation plan. Through a financial grant by the BCCF, this program was brought to Brown County residents. “This program is unique because we actually hang them. Firefighters (when responding to a fire) find unopened smoke detectors in houses all the time.” Red Cross volunteer Beth stated. Speaking of BCCF’s grant, another volunteer Danielle Conlon stated “that backing and support was really influential. This really gave us the opportunity to make a big deal about this. It was really, really meaningful in Brown County.” At the heart of the American Red Cross is the realization that it works as a nationwide endeavor but at a local level. “We are very much rooted in that our services are provided by local folks” says Danielle, “it’s really meaningful. How it looks is different in each community…It’s all about the Red Cross helping and building resilient communities.”