GRIFFITH | United Federal Credit Union donated $1,000 recently to Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation recently to assist parents and families with children fighting cancer.
The NICK Foundation not only provides financial assistance, but connects families with others who have had similar experiences for support during a difficult time. Special services offered by NICK include home cleaning through hospital stays, help with out-of-state travel, and private benefit coaching for family members or friends that may want to raise funds for the family.
UFCU learned of NICK last summer through the foundation's co-founder, Donna Criner. With many of the same common goals for children, UFCU has since collaborated with NICK offering financial support, participation in its Kids in Capes Walk & Run, help in its retail store, and additional UFCU employee involvement.
“After seeing the Criner family journey and the work of NICK, I knew it was something UFCU should be a part of,” said UFCU Griffith Branch Manager Sylvia Torbica.
The Criner story of pediatric cancer involves grandson Drew, who was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma in 2007. At the time of Drew’s illness, the Criners realized there was nothing like having someone to turn to who had truly "been there." Their story is one of triumph and hope.
“We strive to give that same hope to newly-diagnosed families in our community,” Donna Criner said. “With help from compassionate businesses like UFCU, we’re also able to raise money to fund pediatric cancer research.”
Additionally, UFCU employees volunteer at the NICK retail store at 729 Main St., Schererville. All store proceeds go to the NICK Foundation and the families it serves. “To date, more than 45 families have received help,” Torbica added.
To encourage community involvement, all UFCU staff are able to volunteer for their preferred charities or organizations on company time. “They receive up to eight hours of paid time off to volunteer each year,” Torbica said. “It not only spreads community goodwill, but also sends a terrific message to staff.”
Added UFCU CEO Gary Easterling: “We’ve all been witness to the ravaging effects of cancer. We want to support our employees and the work NICK does, to serve kids with cancer, and ultimately, help find a cure for this terrible disease.”