A team of local UAW – Ford workers consisting of Tom Kanitz, Richard Valko, Ron Valko, Jasen Schiffman, Brian Brandvold and Shane Herrell, working in cooperation with United Way, made a resident’s life much better this week, by giving her a way out of the house and into everyday life. The UAW-Ford Community Service Project built a ramp at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Cook. This project was coordinated and staffed by UAW-Ford, under the Direction of UAW Vice-President Jimmy Settles, who has made service to the community a top priority for the UAW National Ford Department. The ramp will give Mrs. Cook the ability to do things most people take for granted, like going shopping, going to the doctor, or just going outside and into her yard.
“It’s great to lend a hand to help make someone’s life better,” said Shane Herrell. “The reward is in making a better community, and seeing the smile on someone’s face when they get in and out of their home unassisted.”
If readers know of someone in this area needing a ramp to make their home more accessible, they should contact Mrs. Pedersen at 734-971-8200 for an evaluation and appraisal for a ramp project. While not every home is suitable for a ramp, the UAW-Ford team has built some pretty large and impressive structures.
Thanks to all who donated their Saturdays to help local families and individuals with their taxes.
We submitted 39 federal and state filings and were able to return $46,460! One tax client, Rachel, commented in person that she was very appreciative to have had this service. She paid a local tax business $300 to file her taxes two years ago but was able to file for free with this tax service the last two tax years. The overwhelming majority said that they would use their refund to help offset the cost of rent, heat, and other monthly bills.
If each client paid what Rachel paid to have her taxes done we would have saved our families $11,700 in filing fees.
Another client said that the friendliness of everyone there, their patience, and the fact that it was an appointment with one on one interactions “made me feel like a real person, and not less important by waiting all day and standing in line and not learning anything.”
Special thanks to Volunteers:
Ben Keyserling, Truven
Ann Bannister, Personal Finance Education Services
Sue Boss, Washtenaw County
Matthew Clayton, AmeriCorps Vista - Community Action Network
Adam Clover, Student – University of Michigan
Dan Foss, United Bank and Trust
Blaine Kuneman, Rehmann
Tyler Leitow, Bank of Ann Arbor
Steve Lozano, NOAA
Chris Siehl, Washtenaw Community College
Natalie Taliaferro, Eastern Michigan University
Educators and policymakers of all stripes will be donning their Cat-in-the-Hat hats this week and reading to young children to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday. United Way, in our partnership with the National Education Association and teachers everywhere, is proud to celebrate Read Across America Day on March 1. It’s a fun way to celebrate books and reading, but our commitment to early literacy must be sustained every day of the year.
Across the country, two-thirds of our 3rd graders aren’t reading on grade level, which means they’re four times as likely to drop out of high school later on. And the outlook is even worse for disadvantaged students. A staggering 83% of 4th graders from low-income families don’t read on grade level.
We all want opportunity for our children. But kids who don’t read well by 3rd or 4th grade tend to fall farther behind, as they start reading to learn. Too many check out, drop out and fail to reach their potential. It’s no exaggeration to say that helping kids read well can help us close achievement gaps, increase graduation rates, support our local economy and build a strong community.
Families, schools and communities have to work together. We have the power to change our nation’s future if we work together to help struggling readers in elementary school. Teachers can’t do it alone. Families may not know exactly what to do to help their child read, or to spot a reading problem early on.
But the truth is, all of us can be part of the solution. You can read out loud to your child, or grandchild, tonight. You can volunteer to read to kids in your local child care center, or elementary school, next week. You can volunteer as a tutor or mentor, speak up at your local school board meeting, or donate books to your local library or after school program. Washtenaw County, call your United Way to join…734-971-8200 or visit www.uwgive.org.
Take action. Because change doesn’t happen without you.
Congratulations to Bryan Moya, age 17, finalist for the Youth of the Year award for the Boys and Girls Club for Southeastern Michigan. Bryan has been a member at the Huron Valley Club (a United Way funded agency) in Ypsilanti for four years. Bryan earned the respect of judges immediately when he shared how he formed a Spanish Club after a young Hispanic member, unable to speak English, joined the Huron Valley Club. They started off playing popular American board games in Spanish. As more members joined, Bryan started offering language lessons to Spanish Club members to help strengthen their English skills. Felicidades (Congratulations) Bryan!
In Washtenaw County 24,358 women live below the national poverty level, many of these women are single parents and face several barriers to achieve self-sufficiency. With rising costs of health care, childcare, natural gas and automotive fuel; families most often make difficult decisions and forgo certain necessities in order to meet their monthly expenses, and frequently rely on the government to meet basic needs.
In all, these women are hindered from moving forward in life; the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) is designed to help women and their families reach their fullest potential through –education support, basic needs programs, access to affordable healthcare and childcare assistance.
The WLI supports programs such as Barrier Busters whose assigned task are to support and strengthen families and provide a healthy foundation for children, another example includes the Jet Program which is designed for recipients of public assistance and is structured to provide a fast and effective pathway from public assistance to gainful employment and self-sufficiency.
The WLI aligns its priority to provide resources for a good quality of life; if you are a concerned citizen and would like to support our efforts please visit us at http://www.uwgive.org/ .
With one single click on the United Way home page, community members will now be able to access up-to-date human services information, data and statistics through the United Way of Washtenaw County website.
“We are excited to share this information and believe that policy makers, grant writers, local media, students, nonprofit board members, donors and agency leaders will find it particularly useful” remarked Pam Smith, United Way President/CEO. United Way has received regular inquiries over the past 5 years to study a way to simplify the information-finding process in the community. “Much of the data on the site already existed in the community, but by bringing it together in one location, information-seekers now have a user-friendly, one-stop centralized way to find pertinent, up to date community information.
The site has been designed to focus on general human service data. A wider set of data links are available for the areas of early childhood, housing, homelessness, health care, school-aged youth and education, aging and older adults, food and hunger relief.
One of the first visitors to the site was new Washtenaw County Commissioner Andy LaBarre who commented, “This will be a terrific resource for the county! Based on my professional experience in policy work, I expect the site will be used often by many policy makers to get up-to-date data to assist in making vital human service policy decisions.”
The site will be updated quarterly and allows visitors to provide feedback and suggestions. The pilot phase for the site will run through March 31.
United Way of Wasthenaw County will run their free tax assistance clinic for the 2nd year February 9, 2013 through March 2 2012. These Saturday clinics bring local volunteers together with clients who can not afford professional tax preparation. Volunteers are trained to help clients file their returns accurately while maximizing use of tax credits, with the oversight of tax professional and tax professor at Washtenaw Community College, Robert Mull.
Program Manager and United Way Campaign Manager, Joanne Sanford, reports over $77,000 in returns to the 55 clients served last year, “It is rewarding not only for the clients who receive these returns but for the volunteers that have these personal interactions. This program is a good representation of United Way’s mission beacuse it blends our over all goal and how we do it of helping families towards self-sufficiency by bringing human and financial resources to make a difference right here in Washtenaw County.”
The project’s vision is to provide Washtenaw County members with tax preperation assistance and to maximize federal and state credits including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
How is EITC powerful…The EITC program is credited with lifting more children out of poverty than any other federal program. At a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet, EITC dollars can be used to reduce debt, improve job skills, build savings or take other steps to improve financial stability, one of our primary focus areas.
United Way is looking for volunteers to help staff the clinic. View the flyer below for information:
Volunteer on Saturdays between :
February 9 – March 2, 2013 from 10 a – 2 p
at the United Way of Washtenaw County office:
2305 Platt Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Volunteer training will be held on:
Januray 29th from 5:30 p – 7 p.
Contact Joanne Sanford for more information or to volunteer: