As 2022 comes to close, we reflect on what has happened because of the generous support from community members like you!
This year’s campaign theme is—United We Rise. United Way of Franklin County believes that we are all in this together. As a community, we are still feeling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Costs have increased, and the news seems to present new challenges every day. We believe that the only way to move forward is to work together and lift each other. Together, we overcome and thrive. United We Rise.
2022 has demonstrated that when we come together as a community, we can make a HUGE impact. Below are some of the highlights from this year.
At the start of the year, we hosted our annual Winter Food Drive. Kicking off on MLK Day, the drive helped local food programs stock their shelves with healthy food, personal care items, and books for all ages. The community comes together at a time when resourced are needed most. In total, $1,002 in food, $1,920 in personal care items, $972 in books, and $6,120 in monetary donations was collected for a total impact of $10,014 in the community! Thank you to the volunteers who shared an event total of 62 hours helped make this Winter Food Drive a success!
In March, we welcomed new staff member, Kelly Reynolds. She will be working as our Community Engagement Officer to help steward donors and volunteers and to continue building relationships in the community. It is important that our donors and volunteers know that your support makes a significant difference in the lives of the families and individuals throughout our community.
April was spent preparing for this year’s Lean and Play Day. After a hiatus in 2021, Learn and Play Day returned on May 21 at LifePoint Church and attracted over 400 kids and adults to enjoy free family fun. Besides offering kids' activities, crafts, story times, and so much more, this event invited community providers to share information for families about local resources and services for children. Thank you to the 53 volunteers, 29 vendors, and 12 sponsors who came together to create this impactful early learning event!
We kicked off the start of summer with May of Caring projects. In the month of May, 25 projects were completed by over 250 volunteers. May of Caring projects are a great way for community members to learn about different non-profit organizations in Franklin County while helping them with much needed service projects. Thank you to the volunteers and sponsors that helped share May of Caring spirit!
In June, we brought on another new member to the United Way of Franklin County Team, Kimberly Stephens. Kim serves as the Community Impact Coordinator, facilitating the grant process from our Community Impact Fund and coordinating our community events. She brings a wealth of knowledge and talent, as well as a fresh perspective to her new role. To the many volunteers who help guide our processes and events, we are grateful for your help. Kim and our entire team are looking forward to working with you in the new year!
The 10th annual Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive took place during the month of July. Donations were collected at 38 area locations, placing nearly 100 donation receptacles across the county. Franklin County residents eagerly stepped up to help provide local students with the tools to succeed in school. Thanks to the generosity of our amazing community, over $43,000 in school supplies and monetary donations benefitted five school districts in Franklin County. Over 100 volunteer hours and over 200 volunteer intern hours were dedicated to planning and executing Stuff the Bus. Thank you to all who made this the largest Stuff the Bus event to date!
This summer, VerStandig Family challenged our community to raise funds and increase access to food resources including free food and healthy options. For every dollar donated by individuals, families, community groups, and businesses, the VerStandig Family matched that dollar. Proceeds from this challenge are being used to fund United Against Hunger grants to organizations in our community. Thanks to the over 100 people who donated, raising a total of $60,175 to be put back into the community to help fight food insecurity in Franklin County!
This fall our UWFC Board of Directors participated in a two-part Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging Strategy Session. The training was facilitated by Bob & Nicole Hewitt who have a long history of teaching and training in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism in universities, human service organizations, faith-based and corporate settings. The training, focused on cultural humility and allowed for deeper discussion of our DEIB strategy and initiatives. Thanks to members of our DEIB Committee, who have led the way for this work within our organization.
In October, we hosted the 26th annual Community Info Expo, an event that was created by the Franklin County Forum and passed to United Way, along with the help and support of their leadership. The Expo is a free event designed to be both engaging and educational, bringing together the community-at-large and local businesses and nonprofit organizations who provide benefits and services to Franklin County residents. Thank you to the nearly 50 vendors who participated in the event, providing door prize giveaways and a wide variety of information and resources!
It has been an exciting year of growth for our Stepping Forward Works career pathways program. Program coordinator Traci Spearly has been working diligently, connecting community members with industry certified training, essential skills development, and job search assistance. Highlights from this fall include: 4 participants completed the Pharmacy Tech Course in November and are scheduling the Certification exam; 3 participants completed the Certified Nursing Assistant Course and passed the State Board Exam in September; 1 participant recently completed the Certified Nursing Assistant course and will be taking the State Board Exam December 20th; and 2 participants began the Welding Course in August and will be taking the test to become STICK Certified in January. They will begin the MIG/TIG Course in February with 1 new participant joining them. Additionally, there are currently 13 graduates that are still within their first year of the program. Thank you to the dedicated participants for their hard work, and for the organizations that have helped provide support for this program.
Finishing the year, we want to reflect on all our wonderful volunteers who truly make a difference in our organization. Whether you help in the office, with events, making deliveries, or by wielding a paint brush or broom-whatever you do, we cannot thank our volunteers enough for supporting our mission. In December, our student volunteers Danica and Zayna organized a RivalsUnited event at the Franklin County Tip-off Basketball Tournament. They sold t-shirts and bracelets, collected canned good, provided information, and organized speakers. They did an awesome job organizing the event and it is so exciting to have our younger community members making a difference in the place they call home.
Thank you to all the wonderful members of our community who come together to make our year! 2022 was a truly impactful year and we are looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish in 2023, together.
Happy New Year to You and Yours!