Stories & Updates
This section provides you with all the latest information about United Way and our work in the community. We also share stories of success in this space – proof that when we work together, we can end poverty for our community’s children and families. Think about signing up for one of our newsletters - it’s the best way to stay up to date!
If you are interested in sharing your story please email email@example.com
Fifty years after he served as a VISTA community organizer in Texas, Michael Rooke-Ley retired from his career as a law professor. But his commitment to fighting the war on poverty didn’t end there. Disheartened by the deepest and most extreme disparity of wealth and opportunity in our lifetimes, Michael signed up for another year as a VISTA with United Way in Woodland.
If you have not yet requested your economic impact payment from the government, it’s not too late. You have until October 15, 2020, to input your information. If you miss the deadline, you will have to wait until you file your tax return next year to receive your payment. If you qualify, please request your payment today.
United Way California Capital Region’s Young Leaders Society is pleased to welcome Alison Leary as the new chair. Hear more about Alison in her own words:
Welcome to a new year of philanthropy and fun! I am honored to serve as your chair for the upcoming year.
Standing United for Inclusion and Equity
United Way California Capital Region Statement on Racism and Injustice
People across the country are expressing their outrage for the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many more.
Our United Way shares these feelings of sadness and outrage toward racial violence and injustice in our country. We are also asking ourselves how we can make a difference during this difficult time. If we are committed to building stronger, healthier, and more compassionate communities, then we must channel our justifiable outrage to collaborative action.
We must stand united for justice.
When Wayne Ginsburg of Woodland first heard about Ashland Reads from his daughter who lived in Ashland, Oregon, he wanted to bring the program to Woodland. So he connected with Lori Ross, a former student of his at the helm of Woodland United Way, to create Woodland Kids Read and Dream.
“I thought that maybe I could leave the idea with Lori and run away, but somehow that didn’t work, so I’m still heavily involved,” Wayne said laughing.
“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King
Yet poverty remains. It pervades with almost 20 percent of Californians living in poverty – that is roughly eight million of our brothers and sisters. While my generation and the preceding one lived through the turbulent changes in the 60’s and 70’s and were privileged to hear Dr. King’s messages, we are all to some extent children of King’s movement.
Filing your taxes doesn’t have to be hard
How United Way volunteers helped one client get his finances in order
Reginald Crisp had years of complicated taxes to sort through when it was time to file his 2018 taxes. A retired state employee, Reginald was trying to get his financial affairs in order when the Franchise Tax Board referred him to United Way’s Free Tax Prep program. When he learned there was a Free Tax Prep site at the Oak Park Community Center near his house, he made an appointment and soon found himself face to face with four women he now affectionately refers to as the Four Amigos.
Creating an impact in 2020
Building stronger communities where every child has access to a high quality education, and every family is financially stable and self-sufficient.
There are just too many nonprofit organizations in this
I hear this all the time. From donors. From volunteers. And even from nonprofit leaders. What I don’t hear about as often is the impact of nonprofits on the economy and the role that they play in addressing poverty in our state.
On December 17, United Way hosted a holiday market at Robla Elementary for local families in need. Parents were invited to shop the market for free and select from donated gifts for their children.
Due to the generosity of local donors, a team of 15 United Way volunteers helped deliver holiday presents to more than 150 local kids.
On December 12, United Way hosted a holiday market at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Woodland for local families in need. Parents were invited to shop the market for free and select from donated gifts for their children.
Due to the generosity of more than 25 local donors, a team of 20 United Way volunteers helped share over 300 holiday presents to 70 local kids.
Volunteers are the heart of United Way
One heart and many hands can make all the difference for communities in need.
The heart of United Way is our volunteers. They help kids who are struggling to read. They provide free tax prep for low-income families. They are the steady hand that guides our Square One Project. They help raise funds to support nonprofit organizations in our region as well as across the state. The hours that volunteers give are priceless.
The Young Leaders Society Member of the Year award is presented annually to a young professional who exemplifies the work of United Way within the Young Leaders Society, an action group working towards improving the lives of children, and engaging young professionals in the United Way mission. Our award winner has made a significant impact on the success and growth of United Way’s Young Leaders Society, increasing our capacity to serve the community.
The Women United Member of the Year award is presented annually to one who exemplifies the work of United Way within Women United, an action group working toward improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The award winner has made a significant impact on the success and growth of United Way’s Women United, increasing our capacity to serve the community.
The annual Frances Wisebart Jacobs Award is is presented to a community trailblazer, who embodies our founder - Frances Wisebart Jacobs’ leadership and philanthropy, and personify the mission of United Way. This award recognizes those who have gone above and beyond in longevity of service, generosity of giving and passion to address pressing societal issues, thereby making our community a better place – today and tomorrow.
Volunteers are the heart of United Way
One heart and many hands can make all the difference for communities in need.
The heart of United Way is our volunteers. They help kids who are struggling to read. They provide free tax prep for low-income families. They are the steady hand that guides our Square One Project. They help raise funds to support nonprofit organizations in our region as well as across the state. The hours that volunteers give are priceless. Every year, our local United Way honors those exemplars of what it means to be in service to others. This year, we celebrate the following partners for the time and talent they give to our United Way.
The Season of Giving Thanks
Help United Way make it the most wonderful time of the year for everyone
Like so many nonprofit organizations, we are ringing in the holiday season by offering a variety of ways to give. While it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the many requests that flood our mailboxes and inboxes during this time of the year, I am always humbled by how fortunate I am. I have a home to go to, food I can put on my table, and gifts I can share with family and friends.
On October 3, we had the honor of celebrating our merger as one United Way California Capital Region and were joined by many friends, neighbors, and local dignitaries. That’s really the beauty of the work we do, we get to bring so many people together into the same room united in service to our community
The United Nations declared October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme, “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty,” is exactly what United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project is all about. Our philosophy of bringing together stakeholders, including community members, to determine how best to ensure that more families are thriving has been our focus since 2016.
My name is Damon Leardini, Customer Service Rep with SMUD.
Each quarter our local United Way will coordinate themed donation drives to support local nonprofits in our community.
Last quarter, the generous employees of Nationwide, Cox Automotive, and Pitney Bowes employees donated back to school supplies and brand new backpacks for local kids in partnership with organizations like Saint John’s Center for Women and Children, Improve Your Tomorrow and the Robla School District. Thank you all so much!
Grade-level literacy is a predictor of future success in school. By fourth grade, children should be reading to learn. However, far too many students in our region are struggling to meet that milestone.
We’ve all heard the phrase find your bliss. But how do you do that? One solution Katherine Green has found is through volunteer work.
In 2016, United Way California Capital Region made a promise to children and families in this region that we would end poverty, starting at school. Behind this audacious goal is the philosophy that by bringing together funders, nonprofit organizations, government, and the business community, we can remove barriers to opportunity for low-income families. Since adopting this philosophy, we have not only served more individuals, but we have also seen promising outcomes.
Bayer Fund has awarded a $10,000 grant to Woodland United Way to support KinderCamp, a free summer program for incoming kindergarteners in Woodland who have not had the opportunity to attend preschool. Bayer Woodland employees nominated United Way for the grant from Bayer Fund, the philanthropic arm of Bayer that is focused on strengthening the communities where Bayer customers and employees live and work by providing funding for food and nutrition, education and community development projects.
United Way California Capital Region Merges with Woodland United Way
Merger will increase community impact throughout the region
As a foster youth in Del Paso Heights who was about to graduate from high school, September Hargrove felt like her only opportunity to succeed was if she ran away – so she did.
“When things turned bad in my foster home, my social worker said she couldn’t help me,” September said. “I was one of the good kids, and when you have a caseload of 30 kids, you prioritize the kids in trouble.”
One March afternoon, I received a call from LaVon Garcia of Elk Grove Farmers & Merchants Bank and long-time United Way supporter, asking if her son could speak to me about work with me to learn about how UW is making a difference in his community for a school project. Orlando, a 10-year-old student at the California Montessori Project, Elk Grove Campus was tasked by his teacher to find and report on a project or program surrounding activism. When he went home and told his mom about the project, she thought of United Way since her organization has a rich giving history.
The foster care system aims to safely reunify children with their parents or secure another permanent home. Too often this goal is not achieved. Instead, many children spend years in foster homes or group homes, often moving multiple times. These children are at increased risk for a variety of emotional, physical, behavioral, and academic problems, making it less likely that they will graduate from high school and go on to college or career training.
Philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
At our United Way, we strive to bring out the potential in everyone. Whether a child who is struggling to read, or an adult trying to make ends meet, we convene, we collaborate and we commit to helping people tap into their potential to live healthy, productive lives. This includes achieving financial wellness.
June is Internet Safety Month, and families across the country can benefit from a wealth of tools and resources to shore up their at-home technologies. To kick things off, we’d like to highlight one company in particular that is changing the way parents can help protect their kids from digital dangers.
At our United Way, we know that for the 1 in 4 children who live in poverty, summer creates uncertainties as they face food instability and potential learning loss over the summer, called the “summer slide.” This means that those children fall 2 to 3 months behind their middle-income peers who tend to advance by one month during the summer. By fifth grade, the summer slide can result in a reading level gap of three years, just as students are preparing to transition into middle school.
In 2016, our United Way made a promise to this region that we would end poverty starting at school through our Square One Project. This promise marked the scaling of our work to help more children achieve important milestones on their educational journey early on so that they are more likely to graduate from high school, college or career-ready. We announced our partnership with the Robla School District, the district with the highest poverty rate in Sacramento County.
Youth who spend their teenage years in foster care are likely to age out of care facing challenges as they move to early adulthood. Federal and state laws have mandated what county social services are required to provide, including counseling, housing, social services, development transition, and permanency plans.
March is Women’s History month, and at United Way, we are proud to salute the steadfast members of Women United. Now in our 17th year, Women United, formerly Women in Philanthropy, has raised over $2 million to support foster youth aging out of care in the greater Sacramento region. Those funds have provided matched savings accounts for foster youth who reach adulthood without the benefit of family support or a financial safety net.
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child”
– Dr. Seuss
I Didn’t Spend a Dollar Filing My Taxes This Year and Neither Should You
Here’s how I saved $300 this tax season.
Like thousands of Americans, each year I spent hundreds of dollars to go to a stuffy, windowless office to get my taxes prepared – to determine the all-important question, would I owe the government money this year? Since this is such an important task, I was willing to make the costly investment to ensure that everything was processed correctly. I am a young professional, only out of college a few years now, and I don’t have a ton of money to throw at government forms that I, in theory, should be able to do myself. It wasn’t until last year when I started here at United Way and after I filed my 2017 taxes did I hear about our Free Tax program.
Meet September Hargrove
The former foster youth advocate turned executive returning to Women United Luncheon
September Hargrove is a Vice President and Program Officer for Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., responsible for leading the firm’s $150 million commitment to Detroit across the firm’s priority areas: neighborhood revitalization, small business, financial capability, and workforce development.
United Way’s Young Leaders Society packed the Sacramento Masonic Temple with over 180 guests for the 2019 Brews & Brains Trivia Night. The sold-out event brought together trivia enthusiasts’ love for local beer, tacos, and making a difference in our community and raised over $7,500! The event proceeds will benefit the Sacramento Kindergarten to College Savings Program (K2C).
According to Prosperity Now (formerly the Corporation for Enterprise Development), a national nonprofit organization that is working to ensure that everyone in our country has a clear path to financial stability, wealth and prosperity, too many families continue to struggle. Prosperity Now projects that forty percent of households are liquid asset poor, meaning they lack the savings to weather a financial shock.
Going Above and Beyond, When Campaigns Turn into Life Changing Work
How Principal and United Way turned a partnership into action
Together, united, we can make an impact, every day. Through United Way’s workplace giving campaigns, we connect over 1,000 local companies with local non-profits to make our community stronger. Our impact together extends beyond just connecting employees with local causes.
This is a story about how one local company help transform an old barn into a state-of-the-art career center for the foster youth.
Happy New Year!
Our United Way is excited for 2019. While we can certainly look back and celebrate our accomplishments, we look forward to new opportunities to make a difference for children and families through our Square One Project.
Last week, United Way held it’s annual reception to honor major
donors and active volunteers in our community. Throughout the
year, our team gets the pleasure of working with so many amazing
individuals and companies.
However, at this event, we like to take the time to recognize leaders who have gone above and beyond the call of duty — leaders who exemplify the spirit of giving through their time, advocacy, spirit.
At United Way California Capital Region, our hearts are heavy with thoughts of those affected by the wildfires ravaging our great state. We keep in our prayers the families who have lost so much, including their loved ones. We pray for the firefighters battling the flames that continue to encroach on and destroy so many homes, including their own.
We are excited to welcome Tracy Jackson to the Women United leadership council!
I was born in October and every year I become quite pensive as my birthday approaches. I often reflect on my life up to this point, especially my childhood. I chuckle when I think about how I once believed that anyone older than 50 was really old and pretty much done with life.
My name is Danah Tedlos-Luzano, Customer Service Rep II with SMUD.
What do you enjoy most about working with the United Way Workplace Giving Campaign?
What I have enjoyed the most so far is learning about all the amazing organizations and nonprofits in our community that help and support children, individuals, and families in our region.
The ancient storyteller Aesop once said, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”
Back-to-school time was always bittersweet for me. My daughters are in college now, but I remember how it felt to drop them off on the first day of school. Each new school year was an opportunity for them to learn and grow. Central to their academic achievement was, and still is, the commitment that schools make to provide all kids with the quality education they need to reach and even exceed milestones on the path to high school graduation and beyond. However, for far too many from low-income families, success in school is a struggle.
On May 15, 2018, the AARP Experience Corps volunteers enjoyed an afternoon at Raley Field watching the River Cats and being recognized for their efforts in helping kids read this past school year. Over 65 people including volunteers, guests, representatives from UPS, and members from the school districts all came together.
Jennifer Minett had a lot of tax questions. With every answer she received, led to another question. After showing interest in understanding the nuances of tax law, coworker Diana Clay, VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Coordinator, recommended that she take a free tax education course that certified her to do her taxes like a professional. Now three years later, she has dedicated every tax season as a VITA volunteer helping others like her once before, needed an extra hand with their finances.
Its Never too Early to Start Saving
Setting the expectation to achieve higher education starting as early as kindergarten
Say hello to the future graduating class of 2030! These kids pictured here from Robla, Taylor Street, and Bell Avenue Elementary Schools just opened college savings accounts through K2C.
United Way’s early literacy program expands into two new schools
AARP Experience Corps to support 19 schools across the region
Only half of all third graders in our five county region are reading at grade level according to the 2018 California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP).
As part of United Way’s efforts to boost early literacy in our region, nearly 60 volunteers will tutor local students through the AARP Experience Corps program starting this fall. United Way has expanded the program and is partnering with two more schools for a total of 19 campuses to provide onsite reading support throughout the school year.
After only 1 year of operation, local data proves that Experience Corps works for students and for volunteers. Nationally during the 2016-2017 school year, 1,993 volunteer tutors helped 31,466 students in 241 schools in cities across 16 states.
For the same school year, United Way had 27 volunteer tutors helping 273 students in 9 schools across 4 school districts.
For students, external research by Washington University in St. Louis proves Experience Corps effectiveness in improving literacy. Students who worked one-to-one with Experience Corps tutors for a single school year saw more than 60% greater gains in critical literacy skills compared to students who were not served by the program. When you compare our local program with the National program, you can see how successful we were in improving children’s literacy skills.
It was a year of success for our Square One Project! Over the next 20
years, we will make a significant increase in the number of local
kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college
and beyond. With your donations and support, take a look at what
we’ve accomplished together:
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!
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!
Community comes together to plant gardens at Bell Avenue Elementary
Thank you to Principal, the Sacramento River Cats and Green Acres
When you volunteer with United Way, you are making a direct impact to help kids succeed in school. Volunteers help support the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.
Day of Caring also marked our first Stuff the Bus drive where we collected school supplies for each and every student in the Robla School District.
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!
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!
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.
Serve with Liberty volunteers make BIG changes at North Country Elementary
Thank you to our volunteers who got the school spruced up
When you volunteer with United Way, you are making a direct impact to help kids succeed in school. Volunteers support the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local kids who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.
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.
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 and our Experience Corps volunteers fit that role perfectly!
United Way would not exist without the tremendous support of our volunteers. From our board of directors and action group members to Experience Corps reading tutors and AmeriCorps VISTAS, volunteers provide a strong support system for children and families through United Way’s Square One Project.
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.
We’re in the midst of tax season and working hard to ensure that low-income, working families file their taxes for free through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA).
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.
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!
Lifeskills workshop teaches foster youth important lessons
Women in Philanthropy members teach foster youth about personal branding and etiquette
When foster youth emancipate from the system, their futures are bleak. The statistics speak for themselves:
• More than 50% have no earnings in 4 years
• Only 25% are consistently employed
United Way’s Women in Philanthropy is a group of women dedicated to making a dent in those numbers.
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.
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.
Introducing the Square One Project
Find out what it is and how you can join us in changing our region.
We’ve kicked off our most ambitious project in our 90-year-history – a new approach to ending poverty and equipping schools with the resources to be a ground-level force for children’s success.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.