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BY REBECCA FENN, Guest Columnist
When I returned from vacation recently, I was saddened to read of Dr. Bernie Bosler’s death. While I didn’t know him well, I was always impressed by his sincere interest in the well-being of our community. When we would run into each other at the post office, he always asked me how things were going with United Way and it wasn’t just a polite question – he really cared.
I only knew Dr. Bosler as an older gentleman, so when I read that he had been the first president of the Jaycees, his interest in United Way made sense.
In 1973, a group of dedicated young men, the Tell City Jaycees, wanted to help their community in a lasting way by creating a united fundraising appeal for local health and human-service organizations.
They organized their United Way around proven examples from United Way of America and raised $33,000 that year which they donated to six different agencies. Three Jaycees became members of the first board: Dave Brucken, John Rea and James Elder. Dr. Bosler joined the board for several terms in 1986. Over the years, more than $2 million has been donated to local health and human service organizations from funds raised locally by volunteers like Dr. Bosler.
Over the years, the United Way of Perry County has created or brought many new programs to our county such as Holiday Helpers Un-ited, Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive, Days of Caring, Perry County Food Coalition, FamilyWize Prescription Discount Program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
The United Way provided the seed funds for Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Perry County and helped create the Perry County Power of Youth program which will now be led by the Perry County Community Foundation and Purdue Extension-Perry County.
Nowadays, the United Way of Perry County raises more than $100,000 each year, which helps fund many health and human-service organizations and seven of its own programs in Perry County. United Way of Perry County also serves Crawford County’s residents now. The United Way touches the lives of thousands of Perry Countians through its programs and financial support of local organizations. It serves as an information and referral hub for services available in Perry County and seeks out the emerging needs of this county.
The United Way is currently leading the effort, along with four other organizations, to develop a community resource center to help people in need in our county.
All that United Way is doing for our community has taken place because a few young men like Bernie Bosler wanted to make their community stronger. These men knew how important it was to work together to change Perry County’s world for the better.
Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
Thank you, Dr. Bosler, and all those volunteers who want to make Perry County better for the future. So many individuals and organizations are working together at this moment to make Perry County stronger. We, like Dr. Bosler and his friends, can change the world by volunteering, donating, creating new programs, and advocating for what we believe in … one person or one organization at a time. We can work together as teams to bring change to our communities.
I urge you to follow Dr. Bosler and the Tell City Jaycees’ example and follow your passion to reach out and help your community in whatever way you can. We can all be a positive influence like he was and do what we can, big or small, to help our community. Author Edward Everett Hale said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do, interfere with what I can do.” Together we can change our world and you can make a difference right here in Perry County.
Fenn is executive director of United Way of Perry County.