The end of one year and dawn of another is a natural time of reflection and gratitude. At United Way BCKR, we have much to be grateful for. Our work is a collective effort that includes dynamic corporate and community partners, engaged volunteers and generous donors. That means our successes belong to you as well as the entire region.
In that spirit, we share these highlights from 2017:
Volunteer Count Tops 4,700
Thousands of people – more than 4,700 – helped change the story this year by getting involved in United Way volunteer opportunities. This easily outpaces our goal of 4,000. Dozens of key organizational leadership volunteers, 2,500 corporate Day of Caring volunteers, 475 Youth Day of Caring volunteers and hundreds of others joined us in opportunities throughout the year. Community members from across the region made a difference by stepping up to lend their time and talents in many different ways.
A documentary called “Resilience: The Biology of Stress & the Science of Hope,” was screened several times in Kalamazoo this year, and more screenings are being scheduled across the region and state. The film sheds light on the impact of childhood trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on our children, communities and schools. The film frames discussions of how we can build resilience and support a trauma-informed community that allows every person to reach their full potential. Be sure to follow our Facebook page for upcoming screenings.
New Data Study Measures Progress
Earlier this year, United Way BCKR and AGS Data LLC joined forces to measure progress on goals across all United Way programs, partnerships and collaborations. AGS Data studies lots of resources to analyze what’s changing, what’s driving change, where change happens, and who benefits. The knowledge will help us understand where we’re making progress, where investments and engagement are driving the greatest return, and where we may need new strategies to accelerate that impact. Community business leaders got a sneak peek in August. Watch for the full data report in March 2018.
Corporate Appreciation Hits the Road
Traditionally, United Way has invited company leaders to gather so we can say “thank you.” This year, we took our “thank yous” on the road with our Thank You Road Show. We had a blast visiting individual companies and connecting face to face with employees. We greatly appreciate the ongoing and overwhelming support of our corporate partners, and are grateful they opened their doors this spring to allow us to express our thanks in a new way.
Instant Impact with Pop Up Giving
Since the launch of our popular Pop Up Giving events in June, more than 400 people have joined us for four public PUGs and two private custom events, resulting in more than $15,000 in donations to local organizations making a difference in our communities. Attendees not only experience a fun night of food, drinks and socializing, but learn about nonprofits and the difference they’re making in the lives of others.
Fee Waivers Lower Barriers to State ID
As a social worker at Ministry with Community in Kalamazoo, Hannah Turner is all too familiar with the difficulty faced by homeless and economically vulnerable residents in obtaining state identification. But resolutions passed in both Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties this year aim to make that a little easier for many in our region. Hannah said she’s already seen the impact. The Calhoun/Kalamazoo County ID Task Force worked with officials to adopt pilot programs in each county that offer fee waivers for vital records. This allows homeless citizens to access documents, such as birth certificates, that may have been out of reach without a way to pay for them.
Impact Events in Health, Education and Basic Needs
Diapers, books and food – all necessary for families, and all at the center of several community events that took place this year. In June, the community helped us collect more than 55,000 diapers during the UW Diaper Drive. Those diapers were then distributed to more than 45 agencies, helping families keep their babies dry and healthy. In September, more than 10,000 books were donated through our UW Book Drive, giving children a chance to succeed in early grade reading. And in October, hundreds of volunteers fought against food insecurity by packaging 50,000 meal kits in under four hours during two United Against Hunger events.
Youth Experience Volunteerism in a Big Way
Now in its ninth year, Youth Day of Caring brought together 475 students in May from Battle Creek Central, Calhoun Area Career Center, Calhoun Community, Harper Creek, Lakeview, Pennfield and St. Philip. They made an immediate impact, tackling 26 projects at 23 nonprofit agencies throughout Battle Creek. More importantly, they laid a foundation upon which to build a lifetime of volunteerism.
Join us in 2018!