United Way of Portage County
4th Quarter Newsletter - November 2020
United Way Campaign Kickoff
Unite at the Drive-In!
We kicked off our 2020-2021 Campaign at the Midway Drive-In on September 24th. The socially-distant event featured a short video of UWPC accomplishments throughout the past year, a reverse parade of our community funded partnets, free snacks, fireworks, raffle baskets, 50/50, a cameo from Omar Vizquel and a choice of a movie. The Kickoff welcomed over 100 cars and over 200 attendees

United Way of Portage County (UWPC) partners with over 40 programs to provide services to families and individuals throughout Portage County. We fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. United Way helps to ensure children are successful in school, that families have enough food to eat, and that every person has access to health care. We are local, serving our community to improve the lives of our neighbors. We need your help to continue to provide these much-needed services.

If you missed the Kickoff, watch our Campaign Kickoff Video here.

Omar Vizquel wants you to support United Way of Portage County!
News from the CEO, Bill Childers:
Our 2020-2021 Campaign - Inspiring Hope for a Better Tomorrow - will see some changes and challenges this year due the COVID-19 Pandemic. Your United Way will continue to provide funding to 43 programs in our community and provide an opportunity for additional funding through our COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.

It is in these times of challenge that we see the best of the community united. For the last 50 years, your United Way has rallied support for our most vulnerable neighbors and evolved to meet the needs of an ever-changing world. Our Board of Trustees, Campaign Committee and Community Impact Committee continue to meet monthly on Zoom and assess the needs of the people in our community.

COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund Update
UWPC has raised over $60,000 to help organizations that are struggling during the pandemic. Over $33,000 has been dispersed to many organizations and local schools through the county to help serve our community. Services provides including food distribution, job training, PPE distribution and more! If your organization is in need, apply for a grant by visiting https://www.uwportage.org/COVID-1.

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

11/7/20 & 12/11/20 - Center of Hope and Kent Social Services Holiday Delivery Boxes

3/10/2020 - JA Inspire Virtual
The 2-1-1 Information Center provides free and confidential 24-hour access to a compassionate professional who reviews a person’s options for help, develops a plan and acts as an advocate if a person is faced with barriers to service. Individuals in Portage County who are facing a non-emergent crises or seeking general information can dial 2-1-1, for free, from any phone.

Since January 2020, 2-1-1 has received over 4,600 calls from Portage County residents.
Thank You to our Campaign Kickoff Sponsors!
Producer Sponsors
Screenwriter Sponsors
Music Director Sponsors
Costume Designer Sponsor
Community Impact
Literacy Kits
We are excited to announce that the Spring 2020 Literacy Kits have been delivered! The closing of schools in March stopped us from delivering the 1,020 “Pout Pout Fish” kits to local kindergarten students at that time. With the help of the principals and teachers those students received their kits a few weeks ago. The kits were delivered to Ravenna, Rootstown, Brimfield, Suffield, Kent, Streetsboro, Crestwood, and Windham Elementary Schools.  
A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to:
  • Barb Boltz and the students and staff at Kent State University for designing & creating 1,020 kits.
  • The Giving Well Family Foundation for the grant to purchase every book.
  • Portage Community Bank volunteers that helped pack the kits for delivery to the schools.
  • The teachers and principals that helped distribute these kits to their students.
The Literacy Kit program encourages early grade reading by making the experience fun. 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. 
Big Red Bookshelf
Over the past 3 months we have distributed a total of 3,250 books (K – 12 reading level) to Portage County children through our Big Red Bookshelf program. Our bookshelves placed throughout the county may haven't gotten much traffic due to the pandemic, however we have been able to disperse these books to local elementary schools and community programs. These books are given to children to take home and keep.
The Big Red Bookshelf program is a program designed to promote literacy by providing access to books for all children in Portage County. Thank you to volunteers, Jennifer Johnston and Terri Goubeaux who have been sorting and packing the books to be distributed. Thank you also goes out to the Geauga County Library in Bainbridge for their large book donation and Pam Auble for delivering these books to United Way.
Ohio Governor's Imagination Library (OGIL)
The Ohio Governor's Imagination Library program in Portage County is a collaboration of UWPC, Reed Memorial Library, Kent Free Library, and the Portage County Library District. This program championed by Ohio's First Lady, Fran DeWine, is designed to improve the literacy rates of the youngest Ohioans.  Currently there are over 1,700 children registered in Portage County.
Registered children - birth to age five - receive a new book each month. Research has shown that a child with 25 books in their home complete an average of two additional years of schooling compared to their peers without books in their home  The goal of this program is that every kindergartener begins school with 60 books in their home.
To register your child go to: https://www.uwportage.org/imagination-library

Reading Role Models Goes Virtual
As Portage County schools have began the new school year with protocols in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, we remain ready to serve students and teachers and we need your help! We are going virtual with the Reading Role Model program until it is safe again to read to the students in person. Help build literacy and engagement with reading by picking up a children’s book. Read to the camera as if you are reading to the children in the classroom. Introduce yourself, the book, and the author, and read page by page. Feel free to encourage reading by adding your own personal message.

Just a few things to keep in mind:
  • Each video recording should be the length of reading a single story.
  • Introduce yourself, the book, and the author
  • Save the recording with title and author information in the cloud or on YouTube, and email the link to maureeng@uwportage.org, or save to a flash drive that you can drop off or mail to our office.
  • Reading level videos should be for Pre-K, Kindergarten and First grade students

 If you have questions email maureeng@uwportage.org or call 330-297-1424 x4.
Resource Development
2020-2021 Campaign is Up and Running
July 1st launched the 2020-2021 new campaign season! The UWPC workplace campaign unites employees in all offices and branches of a company, and gives them an opportunity to easily donate, through payroll deduction, volunteer for local agencies and community service projects, and speak out for causes that matter to them. You can become a part of a larger mission and see the difference you make in the community. To learn more about workplace payroll deduction campaigns, visit our UWPC Campaign page.

Outreach is currently beginning to re-engage UWPC's existing partnerships. If you are an existing corporate partner who would like to get your workplace campaign started, please contact Julia Colecchi, Director Development and Marketing, at juliac@uwportage.org or 330-297-1424 Ext. 3

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.
Townhall II
Townhall II promotes the health, wellness, and recovery of individuals and communities through prevention, education, advocacy, intervention, and treatment.
Townhall II continues to provide all services and programs to the community, face-to-face and via telehealth. Group counseling, individual counseling and comprehensive assessment services can all be provided via telehealth if needed. The agency continues to adhere to all CDC safety protocols.
If you are interested in volunteering at Townhall II's 24-hour Helpline, call 330-678-3006.
Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio
Junior Achievement has pivoted their program delivery to be volunteer and teacher led or self-guided for students. Volunteers are able to connect to classrooms via web platforms or by creating volunteer videos for teachers to use. They have program for elementary, middle and high school students - they can be found here. A virtual career fair, JA Inspire Virtual, will be held on March 10, 2020 for
7th-12th graders. JA Inspire Virtual is more than a career fair; it brings together the business community and local school and is designed to help launch middle school students into their future. 10,000 students attend from school districts across 15 counties! Volunteers and organizations are being recruited to participate as a sponsor or booth participant for the event. For more information, contact Josh Lehman at 330.433.0063 ext.113 or Joshua.Lehman@ja.org.
King Kennedy Community Center
King Kennedy Community Center is currently open but appointments must be made to receive services. KKCC has been helping students around the community with virtual learning, as well as working to help community members receive unemployment and back-pay from unemployment times. For more information visit https://fcsserves.org/program/king-kennedy-community-center/
Kent Social Services
Kent Social Services in open and following all recommendations that have been set in place by Governor DeWine and the CDC. Clients pick up their meals and groceries without entering the building to remain socially distant. In 2019, KSS served over 19,000 hot meals to Portage County residents. The first phase of renovations to the building to begin in November.
KSS and the Center of Hope will be delivering the Thanksgiving and Christmas food/toy boxes to families this year. Boxes will be delivered on November 7th and December 11th. If you would like to volunteer for delivery, please sign up here.
Girls on the Run Northeast Ohio
Girls on the Run empowers girls in 3rd through 8th grades tot make health decisions, build positive relationships and cope with difficult feelings and situations. The 10-week program emphasizes competence, confidence, connection, character, caring and contribution. The fall Girls on the Run season began September 24, 2020. The program will be offering an in person option, hybrid model (in person/virtual) and a virtual only option. Groups will be restricted to 12 girls and PPE will be included with all materials. Girls on the Run is currently recruiting volunteer coaches for the spring 2021 season. Information can be found at https://www.gotrnortheastohio.org/coach. Volunteers are also needed to join the social media/e-mail sharing team to promote the organization. Interested volunteers should contact erin.mathews@girlsontherun.org.
Skeels-Mathews Community Center
Skeels-Mathews Community Center seeks to improve the educational, physical, cultural, social, recreational and governmental aspects of the community and surrounding areas. The Center is currently providing senior meal for 60+ Monday-Friday and congregate meals for persons under 60 on Wednesdays and Fridays at 12pm. All meals are to be picked up in the parking lot. The Center's Summer Youth 9-week program and its associates and volunteers are delivering breakfasts, lunches, and educational packets daily. All educational material has been donated by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
The Children's Advocacy Center of Portage County
The Children's Advocacy Center improves the community's response to child abuse and neglect and lessen the negative impact of abuse on children. The Center is open and providing all services while observing health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19. The Center is celebrating the hiring of its new Executive Director, Cindy Brew, in advance of Lucy Wagener's retirement in December. She volunteered and worked in the sexual violence field for 15 years, 12 of them in Portage County with Townhall II. The staff is excited for this transition, as her passion and experience will lend so much to the future of the CAC.
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 $90,000 to build a home for a family in need. Funds can be designated directly to the campaign to build more homes in Portage County. Habitat for Humanity has built over 70 homes in Portage County so far!