A sold-out crowd of over 100 women gathered at the Spa Special Events Center on Thursday for United Way of Porter County’s annual Bunco Bash. All proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction at the event went to support Women United, an initiative dedicated to supporting women recovering from addiction.
“It’s a fun fundraiser with a simple purpose –helping women,” said Kim Olesker, President and CEO of United Way Porter County. “Women United is a grassroots organization of women who wanted a way to be with folks who needed help. Many of the members had donated financially in the past, but they wanted to serve in person, so now, they help these recovering women get back on track.”
Bunco Bash first started back in 2016, when Nicky Ali Jackson, Ph.D., organized it to help United Way of Porter County raise funds for women battling addiction before Women United officially coalesced in 2018. She and a friend organized the game, set-up the prizes, and created a formula that has raised tens of thousands over the last few years.
“It’s great that we’ve got women supporting women, and we need more of that,” Jackson said. “I want to say thanks to United Way and particularly Women United because they’ve done an amazing job working with these women in recovery. I think they’re selfless and doing amazing things to help others, and that’s pretty incredible.”
Women United works with women in recovery through a number of ways, but one of the main avenues is their partnership with PACT Recovery Connection. Together, they provide weekly life skills classes and social events that cover topics like financial stability, resume reviews, and crafting lessons. Each member of Women United hosts a class every other month.
“When I went to one of those classes, everything changed for me,” said Chris Fickel, a charter member of Women United. “It put a face to who we’re helping. It’s so moving for me to spend time with these women and be able to give them a little bit of the love and support they need on their journey.”
Bunco Bash is the only fundraising event Women United hosts each year, but according to Event Chair Kathy Ricke, it represents a lot more than a chance to build their financial resources.
“I think it’s great to see such a turnout here at the Bunco Bash because we want to bring these women into our group,” she said. “We’re grateful for their financial support, but we’d love to see them at our monthly meetings. The stronger our group is, the more impact we can have on our community and better show these women in recovery how much we truly care about them.”
To learn more about United Way of Porter County and Women United, visit www.unitedwaypc.org.