Women United, part of United Way of Northwest Indiana, hosted their annual Bunco Bash on April 28th. Ladies (and a few brave gentlemen) from the Valparaiso community brought their friends to Aberdeen Manor for a night of food, prizes, and a lively game of bunco. This year’s event, the first one that the group has been able to host since 2019, sold out with 200 tickets and included their first-ever online silent auction.
The event kicked off with appetizers and drinks at 5:30 p.m. and just before the bunco began, guests heard from members of United Way, including new President and CEO, Adam O’Doherty. Another first for this year’s event was volunteer awards celebrating the hard work and dedication that members of Women United show each day. The two awards given out are inspired by the Women United slogan “Leading the Charge. Inspiring the Change”. Volunteer coordinator Kandace Green was named this year’s Leading the Charge recipient and founding member of Women United and Event Chair of the Bunco Bash, Kathy Ricke, was named this year's Inspiring the Change recipient.
Chief Development Officer and program manager for Women United, Kasie Tenbarge, shared that the impact of the Bunco Bash can historically bring in more than $10,000 for the organization but this year they may far exceed that with the addition of their silent auction. Tenbarge, who has been involved with United Way since 2008, first as a volunteer for about ten years and as a staff member for the last five, was inspired by the work that she witnessed firsthand by United Way when tragedy struck her community.
“We lost our home to a flood in Munster and the first volunteers that showed up after the water receded happened to be from United Way. I was connected later and started volunteering in a variety of capacities,” Tenbarge shared.
Tenbarge’s remarks during the event highlighted that so much of Women United’s work is powered by volunteerism and because of the dedication of the group members, they have been able to substantially grow their impact over just four and half years. Including plans to expand their group to new counties in the region.
“I’m just really, really thankful for the volunteers. We want to see women in our community thrive and we are happy to jump in wherever we can.” Tenbarge shared.
As the bunco competition was underway, experienced players and newcomers all cheered in excitement as they rolled their dice hoping to be the first to 21. Members of the community were all brought together in support of the women-focused work that Women United provides, whether it is support for addiction, financial stability, or education, the impact of this group reaches deep into the community.
First-time Bunco Bash attendee Melinda Metz, owner of minuteman press in Portage, was inspired to attend by a friend because she is a female business owner.
“I accepted because it’s a really good cause,” she said. “I’ve played Bunco before, but never here,” she added.
Kathy Ricke, Chair of the event, echoed that the United Way of Northwest Indiana is truly a great cause that inspires so many to take action in the area.
“I believe that we all should give back if we have the capacity to. It’s important to give back to other women and children that may be facing difficult times in their lives.” Ricke said.
The night was sponsored by over a hundred local businesses, including over 70 sponsored silent auction items and the premier corporate sponsor of the evening, Smith Legal Group.
For more information on United Way of Northwest Indiana, or Women United, visitwww.unitedwaynwi.org