Meeting Minutes

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July 15, 2021 Minutes

7 15 2021 Partners’ Meeting

Location: Remote/Zoom

Find slides from this meeting’s presentations, several COVID-19 resources, a list of members, upcoming events, and past minutes at

  1. Jim Baxter welcomed members with word that the emergency food initiative established at the beginning of Covid continues to serve meals, and the efforts are still much needed. Total number served in the last 18 months is close to 3 million. He also noted his thanks to Jessica Brookshire, who is stepping down after two years as head of the executive committee. Laura Jensen, president & CEO of United Way, will step into the position.
  2. LaTonia Newhouse, Director of Community Services, Real Services, discusses an assessment of families in its services area (Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall and St. Joseph) that demonstrated broad reaching insecurity among the populations it assists: 60 percent report they don’t have sufficient food; 74 percent of respondents report they cannot pay all their monthly bills, 90 percent have no emergency savings, 85 percent do not have money saved for retirement. More than two-third do not have laptops or computers and rely on their smartphones. The survey is completed every three years. The Indiana Institute for Working Families conducted the assessment. (Slides provided.)
  • Sue Taylor, WIC director, discussed a $700,000 two-year grant in support of Safety PIN (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) from the Indiana Department of Health/Maternal and Child Care. The grant is shared among four counties and five agencies with the goals of a) reducing black infant mortality, b) reducing the number of infants born with low baby weight and c) improving our local SUIDS deaths. Significant among new programing is MBRACE, cost-free mental health services for mothers and their family members. (Slides and a registration form for MBRACE are attached.) In addition to the grant, the BABE Store continues to distribute diapers, wipes and care seats.
  1. Duane Wilson, COO of Boys & Girls Club of St. Joseph County, described a $7.9 million, two-year grant from the Indiana Department of Education to help St. Joseph County children regain the academic ground lost during Covid. Tutoring programs will provide instruction in math, literacy, entrepreneurship and social and emotional learning. The program will be hiring a significant number of content specialists, data managers, outreach specialists and those who will work directly with the children. The project will involve almost all public St. Joseph County elementary schools and a few middle schools, excluding Penn. Children will be selected by their principals on the basis of grades, attendance and standardized test scores. In addition to partnering with the schools, the project will involve Oaklawn, Logan Center, the Robinson Community Learning Center and Riverbend Math Center. The measurable goal of the project is that 80 percent of the enrolled students increase their academic standing by one grade level.
  2. Melissa Gard, Equal Opportunity Officer and Disability Resource Coordinator at WorkOne of Northern Indiana, reported on local jobs and unemployment trends. She noted a decrease in unemployment claims, an increase in people looking for work, and a greater number employed. This area’s largest increases in jobs have been in the leisure and hospitality, construction and food service. WorkOne has and will organize a number of job fairs. One planned for July 29 at Rise Up Academy (the former Perley School) will feature 50 employers who pay $12 an hour and up.
  3. Caleb Bauer, City of South Bend communicator, discussed three public feedback session on how to use American rescue plan money estimated at $58 million. Sessions are in August (flyer attached for dates and locations.) The city is sponsoring a small business launchpad event and three pop up Farmer’s Markets at the Martin Luther King Center (flyers attached for dates and locations) as well as the Mayor’s State of the City address 6 p.m. Thursday, July 29 in the Century Center.
  • Jeremy D’Alessio, community engagement and outreach coordinator for the Veteran’s Administration, continues to work with Alliance members to create a network that can help provide services to veterans. He is interested in hearing from Health Care navigators toward identifying and providing help to high-risk veterans, and discussing ways to improve employee relations and how to help veterans who are struggling at work. Contact Jeremy at D’ to join the conversation.

The September meeting will be on zoom but the Alliance will meet in person in November and the newly renovated St. Joseph County Public Library.


Additional information is available about upcoming meetings and subcommittees.

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