“I WANT TO BE ABLE TO HELP PEOPLE WHEN I GET OLDER.”
“I DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY.”
“I WAS NEVER MADE TO FEEL ASHAMED.”
“SERVING TOGETHER IS A MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE.”
“VOLUNTEERING HAS CHANGED MY STORY.”
“LET’S GO FOR A WALK!”
“THE WORK THEY ARE DOING IN OUR SCHOOLS IS TRANSFORMING YOUNG LIVES AND I’M SO GRATEFUL TO BE A PART OF THAT.”
“WITHOUT THE [SUPPORT OF] UNITED WAY, I DON’T THINK S.N.A.P. WOULD BE AS GREAT AS THEY ARE.”
“I WANT TO HELP OTHER KIDS WITH DISABILITIES LEARN.”
“I’VE BEEN SO HAPPY SINCE GETTING MY OWN PLACE. NOTHING CAN BREAK MY JOY!”
“SHERRY AT THE YWCA HELPED ME MOVE ON AND PROGRESS. SHE LISTENED WITHOUT BEING JUDGMENTAL, AND SHE REALLY CARED.”
“BEFORE THE YMCA, I COULDN’T GET MY MIND STRAIGHT TO FINISH SCHOOL. THEY’RE HELPING TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.”
“THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS GAVE MY KIDS A FREE PLACE TO GO SO THAT I COULD COMPLETE MY NURSING DEGREE.”
“I’VE BECOME MORE GENEROUS AND AWARE BECAUSE OF MY TIME HERE.”
“I’M LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO USE MY PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS TO CONNECT WITH MY COMMUNITY AND HELP OUT.”
“I KNOW MY CALLING. I WANT TO HELP THE ELDERLY BY BECOMING A HOME HEALTH AIDE.”
“IF YOU HAVE A HEART FOR CHILDREN, YOU’RE CAPABLE OF BEING A FOSTER PARENT.”
“IT WAS VERY HELPFUL HAVING THIS PERSON IN MY LIFE WHO HAD BEEN THERE TO HELP ME DO THE RIGHT THING.”
“IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH MORE THAN A PHONE CALL AND A COUPLE OF VOLUNTEERS.”
“WE’RE HOLDING OUR OWN NOW. OUR HEADS ARE FINALLY ABOVE WATER.”
“NOW I’M ON MY WAY. I FEEL GOOD ABOUT MYSELF. I FEEL LIKE I CAN BE A PROVIDER FOR MY CHILDREN.”
“I WANT TO GIVE HER THE BEST START POSSIBLE BECAUSE SHE LOVES TO LEARN AND WE WANT TO KEEP FEEDING THAT LOVE.”
United Way board members are inspiring kids to read — and gaining new insights in the process.
During March and April, Interim CEO Chris Sargent offered children’s books to UWBCKR’s Board of Directors and encouraged them to read one with a child.
“Our Board expressed eagerness to dive deep into the work of United Way in a personal way,” Sargent explained. “Early grade reading proficiency is key to our Education impact strategy, so volunteering to read with a child is a great on-ramp for getting involved.”
Board Chair Erick Stewart, President of Stewart Industries, was one of the first to take up the challenge.
“Our family is blessed with generations of people who are educators. They all share a common commitment to early childhood reading,” said Stewart. “Hence, at almost every family event, there is time for some sort of reading. It’s such a special time watching kids progress in reading as the world opens up through learning and imagination.
“I am a firm believer that the best way to expand a kid’s horizons and foster a positive future is through the gift of literacy,” he added.
Also taking part in the effort was Tim Kool, owner of Heritage Chevrolet, a UWBCKR board member and a reading mentor through the United Way funded Early Grade Reading Achievement Project in Battle Creek Public Schools. He said the experience strengthened his commitment to inspiring young readers.
“My reading buddies were absolutely thrilled with the new books,” Kool said. “Seeing the enthusiasm for reading and the increase in the kids’ reading level during this past year has been extremely rewarding for me and the other Heritage employees who join me in reading to students every week.”
Stewart said the effort underscored the need for all people to get engaged in the community, especially in preparing young people for the future.
“Our kids’ future depends on this cultural shift for our systems of education to thrive,” he said. “That depends on us, the influencers.”