Thursday morning, May 7—a bright spot in my day

| May 18, 2015
Madeline Marcelia Garvin

Madeline Marcelia Garvin

CANI becomes ‘Brightpoint’ in lives of people seeking opportunity

By Madeline Marcelia Garvin

For those who know me, I do not like driving in morning or afternoon rush hour traffic! I also do not like green eggs and ham. Though we were served a Belgian waffle with strawberries and cream, we also had scrambled eggs and bacon with blueberry yogurt and orange juice and cranberry juice to drink, so I wasn’t too bothered. But still, if anyone wants me to attend an 8 a.m. function, I seldom do so. However, a friend, who is on the CANI board, which is now the Brightpoint board, telephoned and invited me to their annual fundraising breakfast.

Seeing that Lajuana Dunbar has been a friend for more than 23 years, I could not refuse, and you know what, I am glad I attended this early morning breakfast at the Fort Wayne Indiana Ceruti’s Summit Park on May 7 for a number of reasons. First, I was able to interact with Lajuana and her parents; second, I met a pleasant young woman from Lutheran Family and Children’s Services; third, I garnered some interesting facts regarding CANI, which is no longer CANI, but Brightpoint, for the organization is brightening the lives of many people; fourth, this was a bright spot in my day. And, because of the logo and image change, Brightpoint President and CEO Steve Hoffman hired someone from the Nichols Company, a Fort Wayne marketing firm, to assist with the rebranding process after they were awarded a $10,000 grant from the Foellinger Foundation.

Although Lajuana told me a couple of weeks ago that CANI was involved in many ventures, I did not know to what extent, and I did not know the history of the organization. Nevertheless, after reflecting on this recent change, I said to myself: “That’s a good thing; because initially, I only thought CANI was about Head Start.” But, after the breakfast, I found out differently.

Historically, this organization has undergone three name changes. In 1965, it was originally identified as the Allen County Economic Opportunity Council under the supervision of William G. Williams, which incidentally was when I was in ninth grade. At that time, it was under attack on the national level by former President Richard Nixon, which apparently was when the funding was impounded by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But, the organization was favored under the former President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty Program.

Locally, in 1983, ACEOC changed its name to CANI, when community action grew with the Block Grant Programs under former President Ronald Reagan. As was pointed out, this organization has survived more than 50 years due to congressional support because we have Republican and Democrat friends who believe, like former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, that the doors of opportunity must be open to all people. That which is so impressive with this organization is that for the past 50 years, they have been working in northeast Indiana fighting poverty on many fronts, while helping all people gain access to opportunity, and they have been unwavering in their mission to end the causes of poverty, which has many underlying factors.

Nevertheless, the CEO who assisted with the orchestration of this event stated that they gathered today to RECAP; meaning: They gathered to Reflect on their accomplishments, Engage their communities, Celebrate their Brightpoint families, Appreciate their supporters and Plan for their future.

Annually, Brightpoint presents three major awards: the Hope Builder Award, the Volunteer Award and the Partnership Award. This year’s Hope Builder Award recipients were Jesse and Lisa Babb and John Michalski, for this award recognizes that the services available at Brightpoint are just a beginning by honoring persons who are moving out of poverty because of their own efforts. The Volunteer Award was awarded to three individuals who have given their time and talent to Brightpoint in more ways than one; the 2015 recipients are Ashley Brown at The Salvation Army Brightpoint Head Start, Tammy Azar at the Columbia City Brightpoint Head Start, and Elizabeth Fletcher at the Kendallville Brightpoint Head Start. And, the Partnership Award was presented to their Golf Outing Event Sponsor Do It Best, who apparently lives up to its company name doing it best by attracting more sponsors and players for the golf outing and as was pointed out probably aiding other non-profit organizations as well.

Yes, Brightpoint provides more beneficial services than one can shake a stick at. And, among some of these services offered include: providing energy assistance, supportive housing, family development, career advice, child care assistance, and weatherization, and supportive services for veterans, in addition to housing solutions, and jobs for America’s graduates, financial services, and poverty simulation activities. So, it is clear that for more than 50 years, this organization has been providing gratuitous assistance to many in the following counties: Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben and Whitley. Though all of the offerings are not the same in the various counties, they are all helping people in their own unique manner become more self-sufficient, which is just what we are suppose to do in life.

President and CEO Hoffman, who has been at Brightpoint for more than 16 years is very passionate regarding this organization and its mission. As he so willingly shared, he met his wife at CANI/Brightpoint and he jokingly said that even his children came from CANI/Brightpoint. But, “One of the reasons I love working at Brightpoint,” said Hoffman, “is that we are aggressive in our approach to fighting poverty.” By having this brand change, those at Brightpoint aspire to engage more people throughout the various communities they serve in their fight against poverty by creating a brighter future for all.

Though I could not put my pen down, and I have more notes than this, I had to stop somewhere. With this, I hope all of you have some bright spots in and around your life.

Those serving on the Brightpoint board include: Peter Adams, Chris Angelletta, Madeleine Baker, Susan Berghoff, Jay Brown, Lajuana Dunbar, Laura Dwire, Todd Fleetwood, Dawn Gallaway, Kathy Heuer, Greg Johnson, Gina Kostoff, Karl Kostoff, Josh Neal, Michael O’Keefe, Maynard Scales and Jacie Worrick.

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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