LETTERS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
United Way supports BBBS in our county

Being a United Way partner agency is an honor. The funding that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marion County receives through the United Way is a gift that helps us offer carefully screened and caring mentors to nearly 120 children right here in Marion County.

Your contributions to United Way put a huge smile on the faces of three children in our Bigs in School program just this morning. You see, they met their Big Brothers or Sisters for the first time today.

When you are considering how much your contribution to United Way should be, remember that every dollar you give translates to huge smiles for those among us who need support.

Meeting with a Big Brother or Sister for as little as 30 minutes a week can translate into success. We almost always see improved self confidence and self-esteem in the children who have a mentor.

One of the children in our Bigs in School program was struggling with spelling. He usually got a D or an F on the weekly test. After working with his Big Brother for just six or eight weeks we saw the spelling grades jump to Bs and an occasional A.

More importantly, we saw this child start to believe he could succeed.

This is just one instance where United Way funding has made a real, lasting and significant difference in the life of a child.

The funding from United Way is also significant because it represents the support of hundreds of individuals who contribute to the United Way and understand that our children need the broadest possible support systems.

As individuals, we often wonder what it is that we can do to make a positive difference in our communities. Your gift to United Way makes a difference!

There is nothing an individual can do to insure the quality of life and economic prosperity of our communities more than to making sure that every one of our children has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Jackie Rice, executive director Big Brothers Big Sisters

of Marion County

Through United Way, CIS can impact lives

Born into a family with a long history of poverty, conflict, substance abuse and violence, Judy (name changed to protect confidentiality) learned early how to survive and live day by day and sometimes minute by minute.

The cycle of this family pattern continued in the next generation with her children. But when Judy became a grandmother, something changed within her. The change was so drastic and complete that those who knew Judy said it was a miracle.

A local pastor and church reached out to her and provided a foundation of local support. It was clear her life change was not a temporary or surface transformation. Judy has now been a loyal church worker for over five years.

Despite Judy’s personal changes, her grandchildren’s lives reflected the negative effects of the family history. Several lived with Judy most of the time, and others came and went when a loving and steady adult was needed.

Judy was working hard to stop the destructive family cycle, beginning with her grandchildren, and several community resources helped her in these efforts.

However, life continued to be very hard. Judy lacked job skills and connections for adequate employment. With extra mouths to feed, the high cost of utilities in an aging home, high fuel prices, and other expenses, household bills eventually mounted up and a financial crisis ensued.

In late winter of this year with the shut off of utilities imminent, Judy swallowed her pride and shared her financial situation with her pastor.

With one phone call, the Financial Assistance for Needy Families Network kicked into gear. The community ministerial alliance, SRS, Communities In Schools of Marion County, Inc. and other agencies networked and collaborated with Judy to help pay her utility bills and maintain adequate shelter during the cold, late winter months.

Some say that paying a bill for a family is just a band aid over a bigger problem. Sometimes it is, but a band aid also helps a wound to heal. Judy is now employed as a store clerk, proud of her new skills and the ability to contribute financially. Her grandchildren are doing better in school and participate in community activities.

The Financial Assistance for Needy Families Network, coordinated by Communities In Schools of Marion County Inc., is supported by funds from United Way of Marion County. Public support for United Way increases the likelihood that families like Judy’s will be safer and healthier in homes that maintain basic necessities through hard times.

Please consider payroll deductions or individual contributions to United Way. If every Marion County employed worker over the age of 18 would give $2 a paycheck to United Way, over $125,000 could be raised to help in many ways. When one family is helped, we all benefit. Make Marion County the best place to live by supporting United Way.

Linda Ogden, exec. director

Communities In Schools of Marion County

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