United Way looked back on the past year Oct. 5 at the United Way-Northeast 24th annual Report to the Community Luncheon at the Hurst Conference Center. “The volunteers from the Northeast Tarrant region, many of whom are community leaders in their own right, are vital to our work. We could not have accomplished what we did over the past year without them,” said United Way of Tarrant County CEO Tim McKinney.
He noted the progress toward United Way’s bold goals in education, financial stability, and health. “The first 788 students whom we can track as impacted by our Learn Well initiative graduated from high school in May,” Tim said. “The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program filed more than 8,000 tax returns, bringing some thirteen and a half million dollars in refunds back to Tarrant County.
“Thousands of older adults and people with disabling conditions benefited from such programs as A Matter of Balance, HomeMeds medicine management and Diabetes Salud! It’s been a great year.”
Celebrity emcee and veteran newsman Scott Murray (shown here with United Way-Northeast Regional Director Dr. Faye Beaulieu) summarized the accomplishments in Northeast Tarrant County this year. They include:
- Preschoolers in Birdville ISD benefited from United Way funds that placed Parents As Teachers staff in positions to help parents understand their role as their young children’s first teachers. Participants in this program once again joined others from across the County at the 2016 Wild about Reading event at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in March.
- Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a United Way-supported program that mails age-appropriate books to children ages birth to 5, served children in ZIP codes in Euless, Watauga and Haltom City.
- United Way partnered with the nonprofit organization BridgesWork in Bedford to address the loss of reading and math skills that students face when they are out of school during the summer.
- The Child Care Partnership, which grew out of a United Way task force, brought together staff from a host of child care providers for an all-day training on how to better deliver instruction and social skills to preschoolers who will soon be district students.
- United Way dedicated two new Reading Oases in Northeast Tarrant: a third in HEB ISD – this one at Stonegate Elementary in Bedford – and a first one in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, located at Timberline Elementary in Grapevine.
United Way Board Member James Powell, legal counsel for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, shared some changes at United Way:
- United Way has added two new program partners to its family of agencies: The Gatehouse in Grapevine and Fort Worth-based Pathfinders.
- On the United Way pledge form, there are new opportunities for donors to designate their United Way donation directly to the United Way Veterans Fund and United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral service.
- United Way no longer charges fees on donor designations. 100% of a person’s donation will go to the cause or partner organization the donor chooses.
United Way of Tarrant County Chief Operating Officer T.D. Smyers introduced KERNEL, a new United Way initiative that has been described as “Shark Tank meets social innovation.” “Generous donors in Tarrant County who want to invest in something new and different, an out-of-the-box idea about how to address an issue in a creative new way, are on the brink of turning dreams into reality,” he said. “We asked people to give us their good ideas, and an investors panel will review them and select the ones they think have the best chance of success. They’ll put money behind their selections, and other partners in the venture will help participants write solid business plans and launch their programs.” The KERNEL LIVE! pitch event will be held Nov. 2 at Four Day Weekend theatre in Fort Worth.
David Frederick United Way Marketing and Communications Vice President, closed out the luncheon with a video introducing the Myles Ahead Volunteer Challenge. Myles Turner, hometown star and player for the Indiana Pacers, has partnered with United Way to challenge Trinity High School students to complete 10 hours per month of community service. “Those who earn 10 community service hours a month between September 2 and April 30 will be recognized at an awards event in the spring, David said. “The student who completes the most volunteer hours will be awarded the Charles Clark Volunteer Service Award, named for the head custodian at Trinity High School, who has been recognized nationally for his work supporting young people in and out of their school environment.” Local social service agencies will be helping United Way to provide volunteer opportunities for the students.
Basketballs and jerseys autographed by Myles were featured in a silent auction at the Report to the Community Luncheon to support local United Way work.