Stories

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Give Where You Live!
The best guide to giving this year.

Help us spread hope and happiness this holiday season to those who need it most in our communities. 

With the holiday season in full swing and the promise of a new year ahead, we invite you to support those in need living in the Sacramento region. Whether it’s giving a family a holiday meal, fulfilling a child’s wish list, donating to United Way’s Square One Project or spending a few hours volunteering—every donation gives a little bit of extra hope for the holidays. 

Spotlight

Donor Spotlight: Todd Habets

At United Way California Capital Region, we have a 20-year promise to our community that we will end poverty starting in school. Together with the help of our generous donors, we can break the cycles that trap children in poverty and help them and their families toward better lives. Thank you, Todd, for your support in fulfilling our promise to our community!

Spotlight

Donor Spotlight: Roberta Turner

The work we do at United Way California Capital Region would not be possible without the support of our generous donors. Thank you, Roberta, for your steadfast support and for making a difference in our community!

Success Story

SOLD OUT 16th Annual Women United Luncheon was a BIG Success!
Members and guests raised over $75,000 in support of local foster youth

Last week, 450 Women United members and guests raised more than $75,000 at the 16th annual luncheon! The money raised will be used to support United Way’s foster youth program. Guests celebrated the amazing work that makes a difference in the lives of local foster youth and enjoyed hearing from special guest, Olympic gold medalist, Simone Biles. It was a real treat to see the teens in United  programs walk with confidence down the runway during the fashion show.

Spotlight

Donor Spotlight: Lynne Cannady

United Way California Capital Region is fortunate to have donors and volunteers who care deeply about their community, giving effortlessly and tirelessly of their time and finances to make a positive impact in our region. Thank you, Lynne, for your unwavering support and dedication to making a lasting change in our community!

Spotlight

Donor Spotlight: Terry Myrrdin

Meet Terry Myrrdin, a long-time United Way supporter and great friend of the organization. We asked Terry to share how she became involved with United Way California Capital Region and what has motivated her to stay engaged for so many years. Thank you, Terry, for your support, advocacy and partnership!

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Summer Associates 2017

United Way AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates Help Alleviate Summer Learning Loss and Food Insecurity
Highlighting our AmeriCorps VISTAs

According to the California Department of Education, summer programs are crucial to prevent learning loss and food insecurity, especially for many children from low-income families. For this reason, United Way California Capital Region deployed AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates to various summer programs, especially those with a focus on education and nutrition.

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Thank you UPS, you truly are determined to make a difference
Celebrating 35 years of partnering together

UPS has gone through many changes in its 110 year history, but maybe never more so than over the past few years. Yet, for all the changes the company has experienced, one thing remains the same, their commitment to the communities they live and work in. That commitment, and partnership with United Way California Capital Region, has now lasted for 35 years. UPS has always been and continues to be one of the largest givers in our five county region.

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

Women United!
I am excited to announce that Women in Philanthropy is now Women United!

Our United Way has joined thousands of other women around the country in the next generation of a powerful movement. As leaders in that movement for nearly sixteen years, Women United in the Sacramento Region has invested over $1.9 million in support of emancipating foster youth, the most vulnerable among our children. That support includes matched savings accounts so that foster youth have a safety net when they exit the system. That is why I am a platinum member of Women United and I am humbled to be part of such a dynamic group of women.

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Welcome Women United!
United Way California Capital Region's Women in Philanthropy is now Women United

We are thrilled to announce United Way California Capital Region’s Women in Philanthropy group is now Women United. Women United joins the global Women United network of more than 70,000 women leaders taking action in their communities.

Our local Women United action group is a force of 350 local women and supporters making sure local foster youth are prepared for success in college or career as part of the Square One Project working to end poverty in school.

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‘You Art What You Eat’ drawing contest
Students at Healthy Meals sites show off drawing skills

A healthy support system is critical for children to succeed in school. Our Healthy Meals program provides children with free, nutritious meals so they can stay on track. But, leading a healthy lifestyle goes well beyond what you eat. The children that receive food through our Healthy Meals program are learning to create healthy habits through nutrition education and enrichment activities.

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Thank you for helping to end poverty starting in school
BIG Day of Giving was a HUGE Success

Thank you for giving BIG during this year’s Big Day of Giving.

Nearly $20,000 was raised in 24 hours! On behalf of the children and families that United Way impacts, THANK YOU!

With the support of Wells Fargo and their matching dollars, we were able to turn your donations into nearly $40,000. The best part – Wells Fargo – has generously agreed to donate the remaining $5,000 to United Way. That means we raised close to $45,000 in 24 hours!

Square One Project Stephanie McLemore Bray

Food for Thought
Showcasing the importance of nutritious meals and engagement during summer

When I was a child, every weekday at noon during the summer, a truck would lumber down the street where I lived and many of my friends would run behind it until it stopped at the end of the block. My friends would come back up the street with a tray that had a sandwich, a small container of apple juice or milk, and a piece of fruit or a fruit cup. For many, it was the only meal they would have that day. I was fortunate: I did not know what food insecurity was. It saddens me to know that after all these many years, there are far too many children who are food insecure.

United Way Hero

Meet VITA Volunteer Javier Romero
Helping people one tax return at a time

The success of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is not possible without the tremendous support of our VITA volunteers. They go through countless hours of training, dedicate their weekday and weekends to filing returns, and help families save hundreds of dollars in tax preparation fees. While most volunteers have been filing their own taxes for years, Javier Romero began helping individuals and families long before he had to file his own taxes.

Success Story

Heartfelt thank yous from foster youth
Annual Holiday Gift & Stocking Drive touches lives

Back in December, more than 40 action group volunteers gathered at United Way to stuff stockings and wrap gifts for children in Sacramento County Child Protective Services and foster youth in United Way’s programs. The holiday wrap party was a wonderful way to kick off the holidays and unite women and young professionals around the needs of local foster youth during the holiday season.

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Firsthand look at the Square One Project in action

The Square One Project is our promise to the community to end poverty starting in school. Over the next 20 years, we will make a significant increase in the number of kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and career. 

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Wonder Women Wednesday
Highlighting the amazing women in our AmeriCorps VISTA program

This week, we are celebrating the work of AmeriCorps in communities across the nation. Specific to our Sacramento region, United Way California Capital Region acts as the intermediary site by partnering with other nonprofits to place AmeriCorps VISTA members in various sites. AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) serve a one-year term in underserved communities to fight poverty by building capacity. Currently, United Way has 15 active VISTAs serving throughout the region.

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Students help craft Healthy Meals menu

Good health is critical for children to stay in and succeed in school. Our Healthy Meals program works to ensure every child has access to nutritious meals so they can focus on learning.

As we looked to make menu updates, we figured we might as well go right to the source – the kids – and have them help Davis Joint Unified School District decide what goes on our Healthy Meals menus. Over the last month, we’ve been working with various sites to have the kids do taste testing.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s an inside look into the tastings:

Spotlight

Something bigger than myself

By: Andrea Aguinaldo, AmeriCorps VISTA Leader

When I graduated from college, I was hungry to be part of something bigger than myself. I knew that I wanted to do this through delving into not-for-profit work. I also knew that I had yet to discover the full scope of the nonprofit world, and understand the variables and skills necessary to turn my passion into concrete actions. So I decide to join the VISTA program, a national service project with a mission to eliminate poverty, because it presented the perfect opportunity for me to learn about the dynamics of social work.

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Saluting our AmeriCorps VISTA members
We are proud to lead the VISTA program in our region

It’s National AmeriCorps Week, and we’re excited to celebrate! This year through United Way, 20 AmeriCorps VISTA members, 20 Summer Associates and 12 National Civilian Community Corps members will serve the Sacramento region! These individuals dedicate a summer or a year of their lives to bringing change to local communities across the nation. Many are assigned to projects far from where they grew up, and they gain valuable experience through their service to communities in need.

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United Way board & staff help celebrate Dr. Seuss
Thank you to volunteers who came out for Read Across America Day

Volunteers help provide a wonderful support system for children to succeed in school and beyond.  It is people like you that can make all the difference in the world for these young, influential minds!

In celebration of Dr. Seuss, volunteers from our board of directors and staff visited Glenwood Elementary in the Robla Unified School District this morning to participate in Read Across America Day. Each person read their favorite Dr. Seuss book to students and shared what they do for work in hopes to inspire the children for their own future. What a special treat for all!

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AmeriCorps VISTAs Help Build Our Community

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, Sacramento VISTAs joined the annual local MLK365: March for the Dream event. MLK365 aspires to uphold Dr. King’s message of collective progress by bringing together diverse groups and individuals to connect and build valuable bonds.

Success Story

Help kids read by starting your next chapter with Experience Corps

Research shows that having a mentor greatly increases a student’s potential for success so much so that children not only have higher self-esteem, they also perform better in school. Through United Way’s partnership with AARP Experience Corps, volunteers ages 50 and older, spend two hours a day two days each week in classrooms helping young children  improve their reading skills so they succeed in school and beyond. Our volunteers not only help improve reading skills, but also form special bonds with the children.

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United Way volunteers and donors honored
2016 United Way California Capital Region Impact Awards

United Way California Capital Region had an exciting 2016 as we launched the Square One Project with the goal to significantly increase the number of kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. We cannot achieve these goals without the help of our generous supporters, donors, and volunteers.

United Way honored these individuals and companies who are making a lasting impact in our communities at our recent Donor Reception.

Success Story

Bringing Holiday Cheer to Foster Youth
Annual Holiday Gift & Stocking Drive a Success!

On December 1, more than 40 volunteers gathered at United Way to stuff stockings and wrap gifts for children in Sacramento County Child Protective Services and foster youth in United Way’s programs. The holiday wrap party was a wonderful way to kick off the holidays and unite women and young professionals around the needs of local foster youth during the holiday season.

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Healthy Meals Program Receives Grant from Walmart Foundation

To effectively address hunger and create lifelong healthy habits, nutrition education and enrichment activities that will support healthy eating and active living are critical. Funding from the Walmart Foundation will help enhance the Healthy Meals Program by supporting nutrition education and cooking skills enrichment activities at program sites.

Nutrition education will be offered to youth at our meals sites and to their parents and families to support positive change for the entire family. Opportunities will be provided for youth to participate in garden-based cooking education activities that will allow youth to participate in lessons about seasonality, harvest, and how to prepare, store, and cook fresh fruits and vegetables.

Thank you to the Walmart Foundation for your generous support of the Healthy Meals Program!

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United Way’s AARP Experience Corps program has officially launched!

Featured is Bob Baker, an Experience Corps volunteer tutor at Robla Elementary School. Bob is a super tutor! He volunteers for over 8 hours a week, which is double the standard amount of time! He tutors from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Featured are 2nd grade students Leo, Eva, and Darren practicing their literacy skills.

In a tutoring session, Bob uses the Reading A to Z curriculum, plays a word work game, and reads aloud from a storybook. He is helping struggling readers improve their literacy skills, catch up to their peers, and close the achievement gap. If you want to make a difference in the life of a child, consider becoming an Experience Corps volunteer.

Click here to find out more and attend an information session.

Success Story

15th Annual Women in Philanthropy Luncheon was a BIG Success!
Members and guests raised over $47,000 for local foster youth programs

Women in Philanthropy members and guests came together for another successful Women in Philanthropy Luncheon! More than 250 guests  raised money for United Way’s foster youth programs and celebrated the amazing work that makes a difference in the lives of local foster youth. It was a real treat to see the teens strutting their stuff and gaining confidence during the fashion show.

Success Story

It started with a Rethink Your Drink lesson and turned into so much more
How one community is walking towards health.

Last fall, United Way’s Young Leaders Society partnered with the Robla School District and Health Education Council to implement the Hydration Station Initiative

Young Leaders Society members raised over $25,000 to provide a new hydration station at each school in the Robla School District and give each student their own reusable water bottle. Health Education Council also provided in-class Rethink Your Drink healthy beverage education in each classroom in the district to educate students about the importance of drinking water over sugary beverages. 

Success Story

Women in Philanthropy spring drive breaks records
Hundreds of towels, toiletries, luggage collected for foster youth

United Way’s Women in Philanthropy spring event was quite the success! Our Women in Philanthropy members and community donated 497 towel sets (one bath towel, hand towel and wash cloth), 92 pieces of luggage, and hundreds of toiletries for local foster youth preparing to emancipate from the system – a new record for this drive. Last year, the group collected 253 towel sets and 48 pieces of luggage.

The towels and toiletries will be included in baskets that Sacramento County prepares as part of its Foster Youth Emancipation Basket program. The donated luggage is given to foster youth in United Way’s financial stability initiative that is working to ensure more households in the region, including foster youth living on their own, are financially literate and able to save for the future.

Success Story Written by: Amy Williamson, Financial Stability Program Officer

Coaches need coaching too
On June 6 and 7, thanks to support from Citi Community Development, our United Way hosted nationally-renowned financial coaching expert Saundra Davis of Sage Financial Solutions for a regional training event.

After we’ve flown a certain number of times in our lives, we tend to tune out the emergency instructions given by the flight attendants. Yes, yes, we think subconsciously – I already know that I need to put the oxygen mask on myself before I try to assist others.

But how many of us apply this advice in our own lives on the ground? This is an especially important issue for people working in helping professions. How can we help others tackle challenges and pursue their goals and dreams if we’re not fully doing that for ourselves?

Success Story

SacK2C program expands in Robla School District
Sacramento Kindergarten 2 College program helps parents save for college

Jennifer Wright knows a good deal when she sees one. Securing $200 for her daughter’s future college education was well worth three hours of her time, despite her especially hectic schedule. She’s been working two jobs and raising her three kids – 16- and 13-year-old boys, and 5-year-old Madison – by herself since separating from her husband due to his substance abuse problems.

United Way Hero Written by: Amy Williamson, Financial Stability Program Officer

Spotlight on VITA Coordinator, Diana Clay

Last year at about this time, I was thrilled that our United Way decided to take on the leadership role for Sacramento’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) coalition at the request of Community Link, which ran it for its first decade.

VITA is an amazing program that saves thousands of local low-income families lots of money by offering free filing by IRS-certified volunteers, and also helps them claim (collectively) millions of dollars through the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits. Households who file through VITA get average refunds of more than $2,000, and some get as much as $6,000. My job is to help people build financial stability, and that money goes a long way toward that end.

Sounds great, right? And it is. But while I was thrilled, I was also a bit daunted to say the least. VITA is a very complex endeavor and I knew we needed to bring in the right expertise. While I was immediately thinking about the fundraising I’d need to do, I got an invitation to last year’s tax season wrap-up and debrief at our local IRS office. It was there that Diana Clay introduced herself to me.

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We’re celebrating all we are thankful for in 2015
During this season of Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for!

During this season of Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for! Children at risk of falling behind in school are reading at grade-level. Low income families are becoming more financial stable. Hungry children in afterschool programs in low income communities are being fed. We could not do this work without the support of donors and volunteers like you.

We are especially thankful for those we are honoring this year for outstanding service and support of our United Way.

Success Story Written by: Erica Lee, Health Education Council

Health Education Council and Young Leaders Society Ask Students to Rethink Their Drinks
In Sacramento County, 30 percent of children are considered overweight or obese.

Unless you’ve been reading this blog with your eyes closed lately, you likely already know about the outstanding work the Young Leader’s Society (YLS) has done to raise more than $25,000 to support United Way’s Hydration Station Initiative in the Robla School District. What you may not know is that in order to support the use of the hydration stations, United Way has teamed up with the Health Education Council to ask Robla students and their families to Rethink Your Drink.

United Way Hero By Allison Moore
Carol and Roger Stoughton at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle

Roger Stoughton, Volunteer
Connecting Retirees to Causes

Hard-working volunteers rarely see themselves as heroes or anything more than someone trying to make a small difference in their community. It came as no surprise that when I sat down with United Way’s Retiree Giving Club volunteer, Roger Stoughton, and used the word “hero,” he balked at the idea. However, as our conversation unfolded and I learned about all that Roger and his wife Carol have contributed over the last 30 years, both in time and financially, it’s clear that the Stoughtons are true examples of community heroes.

Roger worked for the State of California for more than 30 years. He was always active in the state’s giving campaign, designating some of his donations to his church, St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Sacramento and United Way. When I asked him why United Way, he explained that United Way covers a lot of organizations that make an impact in the community. As a long-time resident of Carmichael, it’s important to Roger and Carol that money stays local and supports the region where they live and have raised a family.

In Roger’s words, “charity begins at home.”

Success Story

Westfield Village Elementary School
Read about the the success of Cady's book club

For many low-income families, every dollar has to be stretched in order to put food on the table. Buying books for their children just may not be possible for some families. However, as studies show, nourishing children’s minds with literature greatly improves their performance in school. And there is no better place to start than at home. 

Success Story

Shared success moments of glee
Amy Williamson, Program Officer, Financial Stability Community Impact

My mother did a great job raising me in the vast majority of ways, but one area in which her parental advising turned out to be not so helpful was regarding finances.

One week into my first post-college job, my old Toyota Corolla gave up the ghost while I was driving home from work. With 500 miles between me and my parents, and with most of my close friends having moved away for other opportunities, I had to brave the car dealership on my own.

“Just tell them you’re not going to pay more than $150 per month!” was my mom’s sole piece of advice.

Success Story

Susan A. from Women’s Empowerment
A brave voice for previously homeless women

There are some fundamental success indicators we look for in financial stability work. On the quantitative side, we want to know if our participants are increasing their income, savings and credit scores, and decreasing their debt and use of predatory financial services. Qualitatively, we work with them to improve their sense of capability and confidence when it comes to their relationship with money.

We measure all of these things, and we file our reports, and you can see our collective success on paper. But out in the world, we love when spontaneous things happen that fall outside the usual evaluative box and exceed our expectations.

One such thing occurred on Feb. 5 at our Family Assets Count press conference, where we released data about liquid asset poverty in the California Capital Region. (Click here for a great explanatory article from The Sacramento Observer.)

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200 Volunteers + 6 Hours = 1 New Playground!

Over 200 volunteers from the CarMax Foundation, United Way, the Mack Road Partnership and KaBOOM! built a brand new playground in just six hours! Thank you to all of the dedicated volunteers who braved the rainy weather to build a vibrant community gathering space. We could not have done it without your support!

Success Story

Parker from YMCA Superior California

Parker was a serious basketball fan. At just 8 years old, he saw the Sacramento Kings in the newspaper and started looking up their scores after the games. Soon he had the basketball bug and wanted to learn to play.

Parker joined YMCA Superior California’s after-school program, which is funded by United Way’s health initiative that includes our Fit Kids project. He learned a hard lesson: It’s hard to get the ball in the basket. Fortunately, a staff member encouraged him to keep practicing.

Success Story

Marina from Koinonia Homes for Teens

Marina learned the hard way that the old saying is true: Sometimes you can’t go home. Marina’s childhood was marked by addiction – her parents’ addiction and her own. Fortunately, her probation officer saw her perseverance and determination and sent her to Koinonia Homes for Teens.

As a foster youth at Koinonia, Marina turned her life around, due in part to Koinonia’s participation in United Way’s financial stability initiative, which includes our $en$e-Ability project that helps foster youth become financially literate and build savings accounts for when they move out on their own.

Success Story

Ryleigh from Boys & Girls Club of Placer County

Ryleigh loves finding a book and seeing what it’s all about. When asked what this second grader’s favorite book is, she rattles off a list.

“I like reading because you get to go on new adventures and sometimes they’re animals and sometimes they’re real stories that actually happened,” Ryleigh said.