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Middle School Students Participate in Derby Race

The Food and Fun at the Park program, which provides free lunches, snacks and activities for children in Wilkes-Barre parks, is off to a good start this summer, according to one of the program’s organizers.The program serves about 750 school-aged children from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday at six city parks and the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA on West Northampton Street, according to Carol Hussa, healthy community coordinator for the YMCA.

Read more at http://citizensvoice.com/arts-living/wilkes-1.2216368


Parks Program Off To Good Start In W-B

The Food and Fun at the Park program, which provides free lunches, snacks and activities for children in Wilkes-Barre parks, is off to a good start this summer, according to one of the program’s organizers.The program serves about 750 school-aged children from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday at six city parks and the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA on West Northampton Street, according to Carol Hussa, healthy community coordinator for the YMCA.

Read more at http://citizensvoice.com/news/parks-program-off-to-good-start-in-w-b-1.2215196



Program Aims To Keep Kids Reading

“Tag! You’re it!”

Words from a popular kids’ game have a more serious application this summer. If parents play this game, they are helping their children prepare for life.

It’s the Tag In program of the United Way of Wyoming Valley and the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

As teachers “tag out” for the summer break, parents are asked to “tag in” to assure that their children continue to read from June to August, forestalling the “summer slide” that often sees kids lose reading skills.

“United Way has been transformed,” said Bill Jones, United Way president and chief executive officer.

Read more at http://citizensvoice.com/news/program-aims-to-keep-kids-reading-1.2211495

Additional Article: http://www.pahomepage.com/news/nonprofit-creates-summer-reading-program-for-children/755103587


Graduation Rates On the Rise In Pennsylvania

In Luzerne County, the graduation rate hovers around 88%, according to the United Way of the Wyoming Valley. They say chronic absenteeism, lack of family engagement, and summer learning loss can have negative impacts on a student.

"When those things impact you and you fall behind, it does impact graduation rates," says Bill Jones, president of the United Way of Wyoming Valley.

High school graduates know that high school isn't easy from peer pressure to tough classes, but they say they made it to the finish line thanks to a great support system..

Read more at http://www.pahomepage.com/news/graduation-rates-on-the-rise-in-pennsylvania/739082270


United Way Grants To Provide More Than $1.3M in Funds To Local Groups

The United Way of Wyoming Valley’s board of directors recently approved 36 grants, providing $1,390,011 in funding to 21 local agencies and organizations.

Each project met criteria under one of four impact areas: education, income, health and safety net.

Those awarded grants in the area of education included: Catholic Social Services Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Bridge, $55,000; Catholic Social Services Truancy Intervention Program, $35,000; Catholic Youth Center Preschool Readiness Program, $24,500; Catholic Youth Center School-Age Development Program, $38,256; Child Development Council of NEPA Child Care and Early Learning Program, $75,000; Luzerne Intermediate Unit Career Awareness and Exploration Program, $55,000; McGlynn Center After School Program, $60,000; Volunteers of America Caring Alternatives, $10,000; Wilkes University Schools and Homes In Education, Luzerne County, $70,000; Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Early Childhood Education Child Care Program, $51,440; Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Power Scholars Academy, $50,000; Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Out-of-School Time Programs for Youth, $10,000; Wyoming Valley Children’s Association Together We Grow Preschool Program, $90,000.

Read more at http://m.citizensvoice.com/news/united-way-grants-to-provide-more-than-1-3m-in-funds-to-local-groups-1.2200781


Volunteers Give Back During 25th Annual Day of Caring

Children at Luzerne County Head Start were excited when volunteers from Highmark and Benco Dental visited them in their classroom on Thursday.

Volunteers also cleaned the children’s play equipment.

They were among more than 1,000 volunteers from 70 business, health care and educational organizations who participated in the United Way of Wyoming Valley’s 25th annual Day of Caring.

Volunteers went to 53 locations across the Wyoming Valley to help nonprofit and community-based agencies and organizations.

Watch the 25th Annual Day of Caring Video now!

Read more at http://citizensvoice.com/news/volunteers-give-back-during-25th-annual-day-of-caring-1.2197733

Additional Articles:
* https://timesleader.com/news/660145/fan-out-and-help-united-way-holds-25th-day-of-caring

* http://www.pahomepage.com/news/wyoming-valley-united-way-25th-day-of-caring/722164595


Help Fight Hunger With a Food Donation

Help fight hunger with a food donation right at your home's mail box! United Way of Wyoming Valley, regional members of the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the US Postal Service are gearing up for the Letter Carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” Food Drive this Saturday, May 13th, 2017.

All donations of nonperishable foods will support area food through the Commission on Economic Opportunity Weinberg Regional Food Bank..



Teachers Learn How To Help Traumatrized Children

According to the United Way of Wyoming Valley, roughly 33 percent of children under the age of five in Luzerne County are living in poverty.

Officials said those children are most at risk of having traumatic experiences early on in life.

Trauma is not always an injury. It can be anything from a parent being in jail, to divorce, and domestic violence.

Early learning educators said discovering these problems when kids first show up to school can be difficult.

"The children that we work with are very young and so it's many times the very first time they're out of their home," Lynn Evans Biga, executive director for Luzerne County Headstart.

Read more at http://wnep.com/2017/04/27/teachers-learn-how-to-help-traumatized-children/


Baker, United Way Honored For Commitment to Children

For 155 years, Children’s Service Center has impacted the lives of countless children like state Sen. Lisa Baker’s husband, Gary.

Gary Baker, who formerly served as the northeast regional director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said he was in the foster care system and found a loving home with adoptive parents on Feb. 7, 1957, when he was eight months old. He still celebrates the day he got a family.

Baker introduced his wife at a luncheon held Monday at Genetti Hotel and Conference Center to celebrate the 155th anniversary of Children’s Service Center.

The Bakers brought the only two possessions Gary arrived with when he was a foster child: a yellow snowsuit and a toy they continue to hang each year on their Christmas tree.

She received the Commitment to Children Award and Bill Jones, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Wyoming Valley, accepted the Community Partner Award.

Read more at http://m.citizensvoice.com/news/baker-united-way-honored-for-commitment-to-children-1.2178884


United Way Celebrating 25th Annual Day of Caring

I realize this may be hard for some to believe, but, from time to time, my very patient wife can get upset with me. I am one of those guys who has a death grip on the remote control when we are watching television and I rarely watch commercials. I often flip between a show we might be watching together and another show or game I might also be interested in. For some unexplainable reason, this can test her patience and I am frequently told to hand over the remote or watch the TV in the basement.

Although I have an aversion to watching commercials, I recently saw one that I really appreciate. It is a commercial from State Farm Insurance that portrays an average guy concerned about the many needs he sees all around him. As the commercial ends, the narrator says “you can lift the weight of caring by doing” and it encourages volunteerism. It is very well done, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

As depicted in the commercial, the world we live in is not perfect and there are all kinds of needs and hardships. The needs we see and those that cause us to be concerned are a call to action for every one of us. Issues and problems rarely go away on their own. Caring is only the first step. The only real way needs get addressed or things get better is by doing.

Read more at http://m.citizensvoice.com/opinion/united-way-celebrating-25th-annual-day-of-caring-1.2175566


Moses Taylor Foundation Awards Nearly $600,000 in grants

The Moses Taylor Foundation awarded nearly $600,000 in grants to promote health and wellness in Northeast Pennsylvania, the organization announced Monday.

The $596,306 will be distributed to eight organizations in Lacka­wanna, Luzerne and Susquehanna counties, with the largest three allocations going to the United Way of Wyoming Valley, the Commission on Economic Opportunity and NEPA Community Health Care.

Grants include $255,306 to fund a United Way effort to prevent child abuse through education; $125,000 for Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank healthy food distributions; and $120,000 to help NEPA Community Health Care renovate two facilities and upgrade its electronic record system.

“This is huge for us,” said Bill Jones, chief executive officer of the United Way branch. “The United Way needs to look at resource development differently. As the workplace campaign changes, as employment and employers change over time, that affects our ability to raise money. ... This allows us to do things a bit differently than what we’ve done in the past to try to have a bigger impact.”

Read more at http://m.thetimes-tribune.com/news/moses-taylor-foundation-awards-nearly-600-000-in-grants-1.2170376


Report Shows More Local Children Are Diving Into Books

More local children, and their parents, are diving into books and the kids are expanding their vocabularies because of it.

The upbeat report on school-age children’s reading habits comes from the United Way of Wyoming Valley, which runs the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.

The success of Imagination Library has prompted the United Way to expand its programs, which focus on the importance of school readiness, school attendance and avoiding summer learning loss.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program recently registered its 2,500th member. That is half way to the goal of 5,000 participants by 2020.

Bill Jones, United Way president and chief executive officer, said Imagination Library was the “first step in underscoring the importance of reading and early learning for all children and in particular, those living in poverty.”

Read more at http://m.citizensvoice.com/news/report-shows-more-local-children-are-diving-into-books-1.2163668


Elementary Mash-Up: 'REAL MEN READ Across America' at Dodson Elementary

If the idea was to encourage kindergarten students at Dodson Elementary to read more, Bill Jones succeeded before he even cracked open his copy of “Zack’s Alligator” on Thursday.

“How many of you want to be a good reader?” the United Way of Wyoming Valley president asked the class eagerly gathered at his feet for an event marking national Read Across America Day.

“I’m already a good reader!” one youngster shouted, prompting a rapid escalation of one-upmanship.

“I only know how to read one book.”

“I can read two books.”

“I can read 100 books!”

Jones came to the school dressed in pull-over shirt and a striped Cat in the Hat chapeau to combine the United Way’s “Real Men Read” program with the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day.

Read more at https://timesleader.com/news/639094/elementary-mash-up-real-men-read-across-america-at-dodson-elementary


United Way Shows Support For Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center

The Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center receiving a generous show of support from the United Way of Wyoming Valley today.

The Wyoming Valley Catholic Youth Center School-Age Development Program is the largest program in the region that supports children year-round, before and after school.

They provide tutoring, homework help, recreational fun, and a healthy meal for kids.

The United Way providing a check for $38,256 to support the program.

Read more at http://fox56.com/news/local/united-way-shows-support-for-wyoming-valley-catholic-youth-center

Additional Article: http://timesleader.com/news/635210/cyc-recieves-third-star-in-keystone-stars-after-school-program


Wilkes University's SHINE receives grant from United Way

United Way of Wyoming Valley (UWWV) presented $80,000 in grant funding to Wilkes University’s SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) program at the Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technical Center. SHINE provided home-based visitation services and year-round after-school programs for at-risk students and their families.

Read more at http://timesleader.com/community-features/633289/wilkes-universitys-shine-receives-grant-from-united-way-of-wyoming-valley



United Way Trying To Get Word Out On EITC

Criday is the 11th annual “Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day,” and the United Way of Wyoming Valley is trying get the word out to folks who are eligible about it.

According to Kathy Bozinski, United Way’s director of marketing and communications, the agency funds the free VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program through the Commission on Economic Opportunity, and this year, more individuals and families are eligible to get the EITC Credit.

According to the United Way:

• In 2016, 26 million workers received more than $65.6 billion in EITC refunds.

• If you worked last year and had income of less than $53,505, check out your eligibility for EITC.

• EITC can mean up to a $6,269 refund when you file a return if you have qualifying children. Workers without a qualifying child could be eligible for a smaller credit up to $506. On average, EITC adds $2,400 to refunds.

Read more at https://timesleader.com/news/local/628250/united-way-trying-to-get-word-out-on-eitc-eligibility


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