United Way of Portage County
1st Quarter Newsletter - February 2021
Change Begins With YOU - Are You In?
Celebrating 50 Years in Portage County!

If you’re reading this, chances are you care about the well-being of your neighbors, friends, and co-workers and understand the impact of United Way’s work and how effective its reach is on the lives of people in crisis. While the community has heartily responded to this year’s campaign, we need your help to be able to create life-changing impact at the same or better levels as last year. In April, funding decisions to our community funded partners will be made by our Community Impact Committee. We’re confident you’d like for the most money to be directed to these agencies to ensure that families have opportunities and everyone’s basic living needs are met. Please consider stepping up and making your gift today.
News from the CEO, Bill Childers:

2020 Tax Information
Thanks so much to all those who donated to UWPC in 2020! For most of our donors who give through payroll deduction process at their employer, the best source of your total gift to UWPC is your final paycheck stub for 2020 that reports your year-to-date deductions.

For those who gave $250 or more (IRS required minimum) to UWPC by check in 2020, you were mailed a receipt on January 29.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please call the office at 330.297.1424 ext. 105, for Bill Childers. 
COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund Update
As the need for services have risen and become more urgent, resources and volunteers are more limited than before. Nonprofits are challenged to fulfill their mission while limited by social distancing and
operational restrictions. UWPC works year-round to provide funds for programs meeting vital public needs, while also delivering direct services and focusing on strengthening nonprofits. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important now more than ever that we all come together and do what we can with time, talent and financial resources. This is what it means to LIVE UNITED. UWPC has awarded more than $36,000 from our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund since March 2020. If your organization is in need, apply for a grant by visiting https://www.uwportage.org/COVID-1.
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. The Black History Month 2021 theme, “Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity” explores the African diaspora, and the spread of Black families across the United States.

A Virtual Festival is being hosted by ASALH and you can find FREE virtual events here: https://asalh.org/festival/

United Way of Portage County believes that every person is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect – this includes equal treatment and access to justice. The events involving violence and threats against African-Americans, Hispanics and others expose our society’s underlying systemic racism, prejudice and privilege that prevents too many people from being treated with the humanity and respect they deserve. These incidents are abhorrent and run counter to everything that United Way, our Volunteers, Donors and Staff value, live and fight for every day.

You can direct your contribution to one of the action areas - Education, Income and Health - or choose all three. As always, we will also process a restricted contribution to qualified 501(c)3 organizations.

You can make change happen with your voice. United Way needs people who are passionate about education, income and health to make some noise.

United Way and Volunteer Centers work with volunteers and local nonprofits to develop the best opportunities for youth, busy working adults and seniors.
Partner Events

2/12/2021 9am-3pm - Food Distribution at Center of Hope

2/22/2021 - Center of Hope and Kent Social Services Easter Basket Giveaway

2/22 - 2/27-2021 - Kidney Foundation of Ohio Online Auction

2/27/2021 - Kidney Foundation of Ohio 29th Annual Virtual Gala

3/10/2021 - JA Inspire Virtual
2-1-1 is available 24/7 for all Ohio residents in need of resources. Call or text 2-1-1 or visit 211portage.org for information.
A total 576 gallons of hand sanitizer has been donated to us from Premalux in Aurora. We also have many masks available for anyone who is in need!

If you or your organization is in need of hand sanitizer or masks, please reach out to Julia Colecchi at juliac@uwportage.org or 330-297-1424 to schedule a time for pick-up or delivery.
Community Impact
Literacy Kits
The Literacy Kits for the Portage County HeadStart students will be distributed within the next few weeks. This year’s kits are based on the book “Pete’s Big Lunch”. A big thank you to KSU student volunteers for working on this project and making 324 kits!
The next kit, which will be distributed to local kindergarten students, is currently underway. The kit will be based on the book “Move Over Rover”. Student volunteers at KSU will be working on these kits throughout the spring to finish over 900 kits, which will be distributed prior to the end of the school year.
These kits are made available through donations and grants, if you would like to donate to this program, please email maureeng@uwportage.org or call 330-297-1424 x4. 
Ohio Governor's Imagination Library
Do you know a child under the age of 5? Make sure they are enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library program to receive one free book a month. United Way of Portage County is proud to offer this great program through a partnership with Portage County District Library, Reed Memorial Library and Kent Free Library. Portage County currently has 2,143 children enrolled, with 193 children that have graduated from the program. To enroll your child, go to https://www.uwportage.org/imagination-library.
KSU Students Include Virtual Reading Project as MLK Service Project
Thank you to Community Engaged Learning at KSU, which chose to include UWPC’s Reading Role Model program as their MLK service project. Students participating in this project will read one of two books, “The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.” or “We March” while they record themselves. This virtual Reading Role Model video will then be available for Portage County teachers to play for their students (K – 3rd grade) during the month of February, in honor of black history month. Each school district that participates in the Reading Role Model program will receive a supply of these books to share between their classrooms courtesy of Community Engaged Learning at Kent State.
Resource Development
The United Way of Portage County 2019-2020 Workplace Campaign efforts are in full swing! Thank you to all of the wonderful companies and individual donors who support our fundraising work as you are truly the difference makers in our community.

Want to see how your donations help local programs address local issues in our county? Check out our videos featuring a few of our funded partner programs on our  YouTube Channel.

Interested in learning how you or your company can get involved in the giving process? Visit our website to see resources or contact Julia Colecchi at 330-297-1424 Ext. 3 or juliac@uwportage.org.

If you wish to donate to the Campaign, visit: www.uwportage.org. Just click the orange DONATE button. Or text GIVEHOPEPC to 44-321.
Special Events
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, all events have been postponed until further notice. We will keep everyone updated on our website, through emails, and social media. United Way's first priority is to look out for the health and safety of all individuals!
Community Funded Programs
All of our funded partners that remain open are following all COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. Check with each individual program to learn what services are being offered during this time.
Habitat for Humanity of Portage County
The Habitat for Humanity office is open for appointment only with masks mandatory. The Restore is open with masks mandatory and store flow guidelines. Habitat for Humanity helps families build and improve places to call home. They believe affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities. It costs roughly $75,000 to $100,000 to build a home for a family in need. A $25 donation will pay for a box of nails and a $100 donation will paint a room. Habitat for Humanity has built over 70 homes and helped over 100 families in Portage County.
The Center of Hope is open! Lunches and pantry orders are available curbside only. Sunday lunches is now offered from 12:30-1:30pm. There will be an extra food giveaway on February 12th. This distribution will include pasta, mac and cheese, canned tuna, canned chicken, cereal and peanut butter.
Volunteers are wearing masks at all times, temperatures are taken upon entry, and social distancing is in place. Volunteers are needed to help pick up orders, stock the pantry, pack and serve lunches, etc. Call 330-297-5454 if you are interested in volunteering.
In response to COVID-19, the Kidney Foundation of Ohio's commitment to kidney patients has no changed. Should a patient, family member or friend need life-saving medication, transportation or emergency assistance, please call 216-771-2700.

Volunteer are needed to serve on the special event planning committees and day of the event activities. Please contact the Foundation directly if you wish to volunteer.