Wednesday, November 21, 2018 |Register |Login | Search
    You are here:  BLOG


Preparing Young People for Tomorrow

When we help young people succeed in school, work, and life, we’re not just shaping their futures - we’re shaping ours.

United Way supported programs are helping develop tomorrow’s changemakers, problem solvers, taskmasters, and trailblazers. More than 3,000 young people were supported through our grant investments in education. Collectively these programs are preparing children to enter school ready to learn, raising successful readers, ensuring our youth are socially and academically engaged in school, and graduate on time and college- or workforce-ready.

This video, featuring the Boys and Girls Clubs (Deer River, Grand Rapids and Greenway) is one example of how your support is helping children build positive relationships with peers and adults, opens doors to new experiences, helps with classwork, and develops skills needed for their future success. 

Share in our commitment to helping all children reach their potential by making a gift or pledge to the United Way annual campaign today.

 


 



Meet Heidi Tenner, United Way Intern

Heidi Tenner is excited to serve the United Way of 1000 Lakes through the Itasca Community College (ICC) Co-op Program Intern for the Fall/Winter Semester. After completing her Associate’s Degree through ICC, she plans to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Non- Profit Management. 

At Itasca Community College, Cooperative Education is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a "co-op", provides academic credit for structured job experience. Cooperative Education is taking on new importance in helping young people to make the school-to-work transition, service learning, and experiential learning initiatives.

Heidi will support United Way staff with special events, annual campaign activities, communications, and volunteer engagement efforts.

She looks forward to learning more about United Way and the many programs and initiatives that the annual campaign supports.  

As a native to Remer, Heidi enjoys spending time with family in the great outdoors, camping, fishing, and four-wheeling. She has a passion for traveling with a big bucket list of places she can’t wait to visit.  




Top 10 Best Practices for a Successful UW Campaign

Running a United Way campaign at your workplace not only provides tax benefits, but they also build employee morale and a sense of teamwork by engaging employees in critical community issues. We've recently rolled out new campaign resources to help you keep your efforts going with energy from start to finish. Whether you’re a longtime supporter or a newbie to the campaign game, these top ten tips and tricks are designed to make running a campaign as effortless and effective as possible.

  1. Recruit a team
    Don’t run your campaign alone. Recruit a committee of enthusiastic, resourceful and committed employees to help you plan the best possible campaign! 
    Tip: Diversify your team from several departments and meet regularly to make sure you stay on task.

  2. Determine your timeline
    Keep your Employee Campaign short and goal-oriented.
    Tip: The most successful Campaigns run over a span of two weeks, but talk to a UW representative to determine the best time frame for your company.

  3. Set a challenging, yet attainable goal
    Be ambitious but also realistic so your coworkers have an attainable goal to reach.
    Tip: It helps to identify a growth for your company. Does your workplace have a corporate match program? Are there incentive programs you can take advantage of such as parking spaces, extra day off or with volunteer hours? Maximize the giving potential for your company!

  4. Plan your employee campaign activities
    It is important to provide multiple opportunities for employees to learn more about the community needs and how they can get involved. United Way has a wealth of knowledge along with resourcestools and even a prize vault that can be used to your campaigns advantage!
    Tip: Be sure to invite experts or employees who can tell their story – having a United Way representative on site during your campaign activities can showcase the important work happening in the community and help share stories on real people who are impacted locally. 

  5. Schedule volunteer projects
    United Way of 1000 Lakes can customize volunteer opportunities to workplaces for their capacity, time and culture. Examples can include pop-up opportunities during employee’s lunch all the way to time outside of the workplace to participate in larger scale initiatives like Day of Action, held on June 21st every year. 

  6. Promote leadership giving
    Set a meeting designed to educate upper management and organizational leaders about the benefits of giving communities including Community Builder ($2,500 or more), Leadership Circle ($500-$2,499), and Emerging Leaders (age 40 or under giving $250 or more)

  7. Communicate with employees about campaign
    Hang posterssend an emailpersonalize letters, pay stub inserts - encourage fellow employees to take part in your campaign activities. 
    Tip: Make sure to show when the dates of your campaign is running and include important information in flyers, and be equipped with brochures, pledge forms, and prizes!

  8. Don’t forget to say “Thanks!”
    Ensure your co-workers have a positive campaign experience. (Making them feel appreciated increases the likelihood that they will donate again!) Once the campaigns complete, recognize team members who helped make your campaign a success, share final results, and say thank you – this could be a campaign wrap up party with food, prize drawings, and/or personal emails.
    Tip: United Way has MANY template lettersemailsparty examples and more for you’re to say thank you to your employees. You don’t need to create any of this from scratch!

  9. Finalize your campaign
    Close out your campaign by ensuring you have pledge forms turned in by your deadline, collect all cash and checks, including one-time gift pledges and money raised from special events, and place them in an envelope with your Campaign Report Form and call United Way to arrange pickup or delivery.

  10. Learn from the experts
    Ask your United Way rep how these companies engage employees and run the most innovative campaigns – Minnesota Diversified Industries, Minnesota Power, Blandin Foundation, and ASV Holdings Inc.

We stand ready to support you in every possible way. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone 218-999-7570 or email info@unitedwayof1000lakes.org.

 




5 Reasons Not to Run

With the Lumberjack Mile & 5K happening just around the corner, lumberjacks and lumberjills alike are gearing up for a run that not only has great health benefits for you, but you can also feel great knowing that proceeds from this run go straight back into the Itasca County to help the hundreds of individuals and families live their best life through United Way.

But what about the non-runner? The Saturday snoozer? Here are 5 every day excuses people choose not to run...and why you SHOULD join United Way on Saturday, September 8th!

1) I can’t find a babysitter for my kids

No worries here! United Way is all about families, and that’s why this race is family-friendly, and open to all ages. In fact, strollers are welcome, so even the littlest lumberjack can participate.

2) I hate running

You don’t have to run! The race is open to runners and walkers alike. You can even bike it if you would like to. The goal is to get out with your friends and neighbors to do some good for Itasca County!

3) Saturdays are for brunch

We’ve got you covered. When you cross the finish line on race day, you’ll find yourself right outside the tent of our 6th annual Lumberjack Pancake Breakfast. Stop a grab a short (or tall!) stack of pancakes, add your favorite toppings (we’ve got them all), and enjoy with sausage links, yogurt parfaits, and beverages. Breakfast is open to the public, so recruit some friends to cheer you to the finish line, and then brunch it up. Trust us, you’ll be glad you worked up the appetite.

4) I’m not a competitive runner

We get that. That’s why this race is more about having fun and supporting the community and less about clocking a new personal record. Chip timers will not be used, so there is absolutely no pressure, although a race clock will be visible at the finish line for those with individual goals.

5) I don’t want to give up a Saturday morning

By taking part in the Lumberjack Mile and 5K, you are benefiting more than 25 community programs that serve 1 in 3 Itasca families every day. That means that because of you, kids will have enough to eat every day, families will have a safe place to sleep at night, and our community as a whole will be made that much stronger. Does that change your mind? We thought so.

Register here or call 218-999-7570 for more information. 




Five Spring Cleaning Tips from United Way


Spring cleaning offers a number of benefits, both mental and physical. Over 72 percent of American households participate in Spring-cleaning, according to the American Cleaning Institute. Decluttering your surroundings can help you feel better, your closet or basement look better, and others can benefit from your efforts. Here are five ways to clean with purpose:

1. Clean out your closet: Take stock of your wardrobe –or your child’s- and see what gently used clothing you can be donated to a charity, like Goodwill or The Salvation Army. The sweater that hasn’t been worn in years, or the shoes that don’t fit, could mean the world to someone struggling to make ends meet. In the Itasca Area alone, more than 6,000 of our neighbors live in poverty and make the impossible choice between paying rent and putting food on the table.

2. Declutter your bookshelves: April is National Library Month, so why not go through your book collection and donate some of your used books to a worthy cause? You can donate old books to a variety of places including ElderCircle, the local library, and United Way of 1000 Lakes. As a Bright Red Bookshelf partner, United Way works to re-circulate gently used children’s books back into the community where they are made available free for families to own.

3. Organize your bathroom: While you are tossing out your old hygiene products that have reached their expiration date, make a list of products you need to replenish and a list for someone in need. Then drop off your donation at United Way to support the annual Health & Hygiene Drive, June 1-21st.  For a list of needed items, visit our Day of Action page.

4. Tiddy up your garage: Make a little room in your garage and get rid of the sports equipment you no longer use. Instead of tossing out that baseball glove or basketball, donate them to a local program, like 5-2-1-0 PlayStations. These United Way lending libraries are available in local parks and neighborhoods to encourage play among children of all ages, regardless of their family’s financial ability to purchase equipment. Donate jump ropes, kick balls, footballs, basketballs and more at the United Way.

5.Take time out of your day and help your community:  Join hundreds of other active volunteers for a variety of hand-on projects during United Way’s Day of Action on June 21st. Projects range from painting to gardening and landscaping to window washing. Volunteers are matched with a project that most closely aligns with their group size, age, skill level and interest. Sign-up today.

Let’s welcome in this new season by doing these simple tasks to not only clear the clutter in your life, but to take a few hours of your time to help someone in need right here in our community.




St. Patrick's Shamrock'n Brunch 

More than 150 community members got their green on and headed down to the Pickled Loon to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a Shamrock’n Brunch.

The restaurant opened its doors at 8 a.m. to help the local United Way chapter raise money to support local programs and initiatives. To celebrate the Irish holiday, a special menu was served and included items like bangers and rashers, Irish poutine, and corned beef with cabbage. The event also featured a full-line up of local music performances by McKeon Hugh Roberts, Jed LaPlant, and Sam Miltich & Friends. 

The folks from Klockow Brewing Company kicked off a Tap Takeover with a lineup of Irish style beers and all sale proceeds benefited United Way.

Other activities included a raffle drawing with dozens of items donated from local businesses, several split the pot card draws, and a $250 prize drawing. Winners were chosen at random at the conclusion of the event. The winners were notified by United Way including Brynden Lenius, winner of the $250 cash prize.

The brunch was a great success with more than $6,000 raised for the United Way of 1000 Lakes annual campaign which supports more than 30 programs across 24 local nonprofits.

For more information about where the money goes, we invite you to read stories about local people who have found hope, courage, and second chances. 




United Way Celebrates Dr. Seuss with Book Drive

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” - Dr. Seuss 

Children’s book author and widely known American poet and artist Dr. Seuss would have turned 114 years old on March 2nd this year, and what better way to celebrate his life and legacy then by donating books?

During the first week in March, United Way of 1000 Lakes will be collecting donations of new and gently used children’s books! Books can be dropped off right at the United Way office (located at 350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A, in Grand Rapids).

United Way hosts Bright Red Bookshelves in Grand Rapids, Inger, and Squaw Lake communities. Coordinated by Project READ, a United Way grantee, the program promotes literacy by increasing book ownership in low-income homes, encouraging parent-child interactions with books, and developing confidence in young readers.

For a complete list of donation and bookshelf sites, and for more information on ways to spread the word on early literacy, visit www.projectread.net or call 327-5753.

 



L&M Fleet Supply Gives Back through Annual Gift

Pictured left to right is part of the store management team in Grand Rapids: Mike Nelson, Michelle Clough, Eric Porterfield, and Carol Lambrecht.

L&M Fleet Supply generously gives back to the community through an annual gift to United Way of 1000 Lakes. Each year, local businesses invest in a network of 30 programs and initiatives that address children, family and community well-being through the United Way. Thank you, L&M Fleet Supply, for your loyalty and continued commitment to strengthening the Itasca Area communities. To learn more, visit www.unitedwayof1000lakes.org/Give or call 999-7570.  




Nancy Kurtz Agency leverages Matching Corporate Gift

The Nancy Kurtz Agency doubled their United Way campaign with a corporate gift from American Family Insurance. Nancy Kurtz Agency is one of many businesses making their gifts go further through employee matching programs. American Family Insurance matches employee donations – dollar for dollar – helping employees make an even bigger impact in the community they live and furthering causes that matter most to them.  Other companies include UPS, AT&T, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Verizon, State Farm Insurance, Walgreens and Walmart.

Pictured left to right: Nancy Kurtz, Barb Arnold, and Christy Bishop present United Way of 1000 Lakes with an American Family Insurance matching gift, bringing their combined contribution to $400.

Check today if your workplace offers a matching opportunity that could potentially double or triple your donation. Call United Way at 999-7570 or ask your Human Resources Department if your company has a matching program or would be willing to consider one.




November 15th is Give to the Max Day

Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s homegrown holiday of giving, is set to spread generosity across the state of Minnesota. The 24-hour online giving event is slated for Thursday, Nov. 15 at GiveMN.org. The day is an opportunity for Minnesotans to show their support for their favorite nonprofit organizations and schools, like United Way of 1000 Lakes.

“Minnesotans are generous year-round, but I am always amazed at the level of generosity across our state on Give to the Max Day,” said Jake Blumberg, executive director of GiveMN. “Every dollar makes a real impact.”

Give to the Max Day begins at midnight on Nov. 15 and continues through 11:59 p.m. As an incentive for donating via the givemn.org website during that 24-hour window, GiveMN will do hourly "Golden Ticket" drawings; that is, randomly draw one online donation made to a participating nonprofit or school. 

Whether you give to United Way of 1000 Lakes through the givemn.org website, United Way’s website, by mail or in person, you can be assured that it will stay in the Itasca Area to help children, family and community well-being. United Way unites around our community’s biggest, most complex problems and we fight.

We fight for young students who struggle to read. We stand for youth with no support. We battle for hard-working families struggling to make ends meet. We confront poverty and help individuals with their most basic human needs so they don’t have to worry where they will sleep or get their next meal.

Please consider a gift to United Way of 1000 Lakes this holiday season. Interested contributors can make a gift in the following ways:

• One-time or recurring credit card or debt card gift at unitedwayof1000lakes.org/give or GiveMN.org
• Mail or in person at: United Way of 1000 Lakes, 350 NW 1st Ave, Ste A, Grand Rapids, MN 55744
• Payroll deduction at your place of work (contact your HR department or call 999-7570 for more information)


Give Now


Minnesotans celebrated Acts of Kindness Week

You may have noticed people performing acts of kindness in recent weeks. Or you may have even been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness. The movement, proclaimed as Minnesota Acts of Kindness Week by Governor Mark Dayton, is the work of 40 chapters of the United Way collectively promoting, celebrating, and encouraging Minnesotans to spread kindness Nov. 6-10th.

"Taking part in MN Acts of Kindness Week was more fulfilling than I had imagined," says Christina Monson, editor for Lake Time Magazine. "The best part? It wasn't that difficult to come up with kind things to do. The very best part? Seeing the smiles on the people involved, whether it be the clerk at the grocery store ringing out the food donation bag or the barista at the coffee shop who gets to deliver that prepaid drink to the next person in line. This was one of the best weeks I've had and it truly took very little effort but was more than fulfilling."

Acts ranged from buying grocery items for a full meal for a family in need to leaving money in an envelope on a vending machine and buying a stranger coffee to sending kindness bouquets. As acts of kindness were completed, United Way encouraged people to share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #LiveUnitedMN and #UW1000LAKES. Recipients of kindness were given a bright yellow card encouraging them to pass it on by doing something kind or generous for someone else.

“It’s just a great way to come together as a network and engage our communities differently,” says Hannah Chesness, Resource Coordinator for United Way. “Our goal is to help unify the community and to kick-start ongoing acts of kindness all year. Our kindness cards will be circulating around Grand Rapids still, so if you see one, pass it on!” 




United Way Awards Give and Win Sweepstakes Winners

United Way of 1000 Lakes has concluded our first ever Give and Win Sweepstakes, generously underwritten by Furman Fishing, Justin Bailey Fishing & Guide Service, and Bright Star Resort. The sweepstakes ran between June 2, 2017 and June 21, 2017. Each new donor who donated at least $20 or any donor who increased their gift by $20 or more was automatically entered into the drawing. 

  

The following individuals were selected at random:

  • Tracy James won a guided fishing trip package with Furman Fishing. Good for up to 2 person(s). Package includes full day fishing trip to lake of her choice. Valued at $400.
  • Peggy Clayton won a guided fishing trip with Justin Bailey Fishing & Guide Service. Package includes full day fishing trip to lake of her choice, for up to up to 3 person(s). Valued at $400.
  • Tom Hernesman won two-nights lodging on Round Lake at Bright Star Resort. Package includes a 2 night/3 day stay, for up to 4 persons. Valued at $280.

In addition, Facebook contests participants, Tom Gruss and Lisa Davis won mercury fishing merchandise donated by Ray's Sport & Marine.

According to Luke Francisco, United Way board president, 65 percent of the sweepstakes entries were made by first time contributors.

“The Sweepstakes adds an extra fun factor to our annual campaign while generating crucial support for programs that are changing lives,” said Francisco. “We are very grateful for each of these donors as well as the support from local businesses, which allows us to provide this exciting incentive.”

The 2017-18 campaign is now accepting donations. Anyone interested in supporting United Way’s critical grant funding to local nonprofit agencies and community programs, can contact United Way at 999-7570 or info@unitedwayof1000lakes.org. Donations can also be made online at unitedwayof1000lakes.org/give.




The Hero Effect

Celebrating the power of the human spirit is the focus of a new docu-series, The Hero Effect, presented by United Way and Produced by Dolphin Entertainment. The Hero Effect tells the stories of ordinary individuals who are making extraordinary differences in their communities. Each episode is shot on location in different communities across the country, celebrating everyday heroes that facilitate beneficial, life-changing impact on the people around them. 

Much like our local Change the Story series, each Hero Effect episode brings audiences real-life stories that show the impact one person can make and motivates and inspires viewers to take action in their own communities.

“Throughout my 35 years of working with communities at United Way, I’ve learned that the vast majority of people are eager to make the world a better place,” said Brian Gallagher, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide.  “The men and women featured in ‘The Hero Effect’ are our local heroes, stepping forward to make a difference in their communities.  We’re incredibly inspired by their work and excited to help share them and their efforts with the world.”

The ten-episode original series, which premiered on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), on November 12, 2016, covers a broad range of issues, from connecting veterans with housing and jobs in Florida, to building children’s reading skills in Iowa. Back-to-back episodes include:

·         Mission United (11/12/16) – Veterans
·         Café Momentum (12/10/16) – Youth Empowerment
·         More Too Life (1/14/17) – Human Trafficking
·         Mary’s Center (2/11/17) – Health and Wellness
·         Raising Readers in Story County (3/11/17) – Literacy / Education
·         Rising Tide Car Wash (4/8/17) – Autism
·         Treehouse Foundation (5/13/17) – Foster Care
·         Katie’s Krops (6/10/17) – Hunger
·         Cheyenne River Youth Project (7/8/17) – Health and Wellness
·         Indo Jax Surf Charities (8/12/17) – Special Needs

The Hero Effect airs monthly on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. ET and is co-hosted by former Super Bowl Champion Donald Driver and actress/advocate Emily Wilson. Tune into Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) for the next episode on Saturday, February 11th.

To learn more, including summaries of each episodes, visit HeroEffect.com.

 



Community Life Lines 
by Conley Janssen

Our community is the small world that we live our everyday lives in.  It is the people, places, events and organizations that make up the “where” of who we are. Human beings typically function better if they have ties to others with common ground, and within most communities, there will be service-minded people that have a goal of helping the general public. Most of these people act out of duty or good will. For most of us, we are compelled to serve simply because of who we are. Many of us are military, law enforcement, fire fighters, teachers, or clergy. None of these jobs are very high paying and most are high risk, but they all focus on commitment to something higher than ourselves. It’s this commitment that brought me in contact with United Way.

As an active community member and a person of action, I normally get involved in more “good causes” than I can easily handle. I need to prioritize and choose where I can make the biggest impact for the overall good of my community. When I was asked to be part of the United Way grant review committee, I realized that this was a perfect fit for maximizing my time and energy into meaningful results. Many of the small groups or non-profits I am aware of were started by an individual or small group who saw a need and took action. Each of them, however, face the challenge of securing the resources necessary to create a financially sustainable organization. This is where groups such as United Way come into the picture. By writing grants and collaborating with others local non-profits, large and small, can obtain some much needed funding for their program. Being part of this process was both rewarding and very satisfying. Reading through the grants, making the site visits, and participating in small group discussion meetings were all very positive experiences. The most challenging aspect was not having enough donations to fully grant all the requests. Even that one negative can be turned into a positive, as we were able to give feedback that encouraged organizations to focus on collaboration with other partnering agencies or diversification of their funding. 

Overall, being involved in the United Way grant process was an enlightening and beneficial experience. The entire process was incredibly organized and very well thought out. All of my time was well spent and productive. Most importantly was the great follow up meetings, and actually knowing that the work we did was productive and beneficial.  

United Way is dedicated to the betterment of community which is achieved by taking action in our communities and helping fund other small entities that may not otherwise have the resources to do their good work. These active groups help keep our community vibrant and moving forward. United Way is a critical part of many of these lifeline groups.  It was an honor and a privilege to be part of the process that helps so many people in our small local world. Being part of this committee allowed me to help several groups that I had heard of, and thought I could help if only I had the time. United Way gave me that time.

In closing, I invite you to participate in the allocation process and volunteer for the allocation committee beginning in January 2017. Call 218-999-7570 with questions.

Conley Janssen volunteers his time with the United Way of 1,000 Lakes. He is a local parent, husband, and U.S. Marine.




Promise Fellow supports local youth
by Rachel Knoop

While Fall activities are in full swing, Kayla Schubert continues to settle in at Greenway School District. Kayla is serving as the AmeriCorps Promise Fellow for the duration of the 2016-2017 school year, working with students who have fallen behind on the path to graduation. By working with students individually, Kayla is able to identify specific needs and create individualized plans to help students get back on track to meet graduation requirements.

 “My goal for the year is to create meaningful relationships with the students and to help them develop the self-confidence to believe that they are capable of achieving whatever they put their mind to,” said Schubert. “I want them to know that there is another adult around who wants to hear what’s going on in their lives and to be a listening ear.”

Schubert joined the school in a joint collaboration between Minnesota Youth Alliance, Independent School District 316, and United Way of 1000 Lakes. According to United Way Executive Director, Kim Brink Smith, the Promise Fellow program aligns with the goals to help area youth thrive. As a community-centered nonprofit, United Way of 1000 Lakes is continuously looking for opportunities to assist the next generation of citizens during their formative years. Smith worked with Greenway during the Spring semester of the 2015-2016 academic year to bring in a Promise Fellow. The program experienced such positive results that it was awarded its second consecutive host agreement to expand in the Greenway school district and beyond.

“Working at Greenway has been an awesome experience,” Schubert said. “The faculty and staff at Greenway have been so welcoming. They have helped me get acclimated to the culture of the school and made me feel very comfortable. I can’t imagine working with a better group of people.”

A native of St. Cloud, Schubert has extensive experience in cultural studies, working in museums, historical centers, and libraries around the country. Using her experiences, she is excited about the opportunity to transition into a classroom setting.

“I know that I want my career to be centered on education, but I don’t know exactly what capacity that will be,” she said. “It is exciting to explore education in a high school setting, and to build more personal relationships with the staff and students.”

According to Schubert, some of the challenges that she faces include adapting to the culture of a new school, adjusting to living in a small town, and learning the rules of hockey.

“Going into a new community is definitely a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I want to learn about the things that are important to these kids so that I can understand and relate to them better. If it’s a big part of their lives, I want to be able to meet them where they are not only in their academics, but also in their extracurricular activities and hobbies.” 

Schubert began the year working with 7 students, but is anticipating working with more than 30 by the end of the academic year.

For more information regarding the AmeriCorps Promise Fellow program, call United Way at 218-999-7570.



The Promise Fellow

Though graduation rates continue to climb in nearly every state in the country, the national average is still only 81 percent of high school students graduating within the typical four-year high school career. Reasons why the remaining 19 percent fail to procure a diploma are varied, so naturally the solutions to this problem have to be numerous, or at minimum, flexible. 

It’s because of the students that traditionally “fall through the cracks” that AmeriCorps has developed the different educational programs that they have, such as Reading Corps and Math Corps. But it’s a lesser-known program under the AmeriCorps umbrella, the Promise Fellows, that focuses on raising the graduation rate by means of casting a wider net to students in need. 

“I would pull (my students) out of classes intermittently and help them get caught up. Be a mentor for them, because a lot of these students don’t have anyone to talk to, or may or may not have (struggles outside of school),” said Sadie Blake, Greenway High School’s Promise Fellow.

A mentor more than a tutor, Blake’s experience as a Promise Fellow largely consisted of encouraging her students to be more self-reliant and building their confidence. Especially for students who have fallen behind in class due to situations outside of the classroom, even the daily course load can appear daunting. But over the few months that she spent at Greenway, each of the students Blake worked with showed a marked improvement in attendance, behavior, and course work (the ABCs of the Promise Fellow).  

Blake was brought to the school in a joint collaboration between the school district and United Way of 1000 Lakes. According to United Way Executive Director Kim Brink Smith, the Promise Fellow program aligns with the goals to help area youth thrive. As a community-centered non-profit, United Way of 1000 Lakes is continuously looking for opportunities to assist the next generation of citizens during their formative years. Smith worked with Greenway earlier in the school year to bring in a fellow in the hope that this style of mentorship program would have the results they anticipated. Greenway High School Principal Jeff Britten breaks the student body population down generally that 85 percent of students in any school will be successful with regular instructional delivery. Another five percent on top of that are students that will require special education programming. The other 10 percent in the middle are typically students who may be struggling and who can benefit from additional support. 

As part of a greater team of educators at Greenway, Blake worked with just over 20 students in both seventh and eighth grade, which comprise 14 percent of the student body. But even beyond the statistics that showed improved attendance, behavior, and course work, Blake noted that she saw students working harder at school and becoming more engaged with their assignments.“By the end of the school year, I saw them going up to talk to teachers on their own, and taking more control of their (studies),” said Blake. 

This fall, Blake will be starting the next chapter of her life teaching at a charter school in Minneapolis, and so will not be returning to Greenway as the district’s Promise Fellow. Because of the success after only one semester of the program, Smith is hoping to work with other area school districts who may be interested in bringing in additional intervention staff for at-risk students. Smith noted that having United Way of 1000 Lakes involved will make it easier for any school interested to bring in a Promise Fellow, since they can act as the grant host for multiple districts. For more information on the position, visit www.unitedwayof1000lakes.org/Current-Openings.

“It’s a great program! You have a lot of support, and there’s a big community of AmeriCorps Promise Fellows at the state level,” said Blake. “You go to meetings and hear different stories and share your stories, and it’s just fun to see how much you’re really helping.”




United Way Plaid Challenge!

 

In an effort to boost the United Way campaign, a generous donor has pledged $25 on behalf of each guest at United Way's upcoming Campaign Celebration & Best of Awards wearing plaid. United Way's "Wear Plaid for Purpose" campaign sparked the challenge. 

Whether it’s tartan or houndstooth, a kilt or your favorite flannel shirt, you can benefit United Way of 1000 Lakes simply by arriving to the Campaign Celebration donning your choice of plaid. The annual Campaign Celebration and Best of Awards is set for Thursday, March 24, 2016 from 4:30-6:30 at Timberlake Lodge and marks the conclusion of the United Way 2015 Campaign. 

Starting at 4:30, enjoy appetizers, a cash bar, and live music during a networking and social hour featuring jazz guitarist, Sam Miltich. Featured program immediately following includes:  

  • welcome new members to the United Way of 1000 Lakes Board of Directors
  • prestent this year’s Best of Award winners and recognize outstanding community partners and volunteers
  • announce campaign results
  • keynote speaker will be ALLETE President and CEO, Al Hodnik. 

Hodnik, an Iron Range native, serves as the President and CEO of Duluth-based ALLETE. Hodnik first joined Minnesota Power in 1982, and was appointed chairman of the ALLETE Board of Directors in 2011. Minnesota Power operations include Boswell Energy Center, which employs nearly 300 employees in the Grand Rapids, Cohasset, and Coleraine area. 

The celebration will conclude the 2015 United Way of 1000 Lakes campaign. Over 25 local organizations benefited from United Way services in 2015, touching one in three people in Itasca County.  

This event is free and open to the public, so invite a friend, wear your plaid, and join us. However, space is limited. 

 



United Way welcomes new Community Resource Coordinator 

Rachel Knoop joins United Way of 1000 Lakes as the Community Resource Coordinator. Rachel is a graduate of University of Northwestern – St. Paul with a degree in International Marketing and Public Relations. She has a passion for nonprofit organizations and seeing local communities thrive.  A native of Itasca County, Rachel is looking forward to joining the United Way of 1000 Lakes team and serving her home community.

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys exploring outdoors, playing sports, being involved in church, travelling, and playing the ukulele. She loves being with her family and friends, and spends copious amounts of time with her dog, Manders. 

In her life, Rachel hopes to extinguish the mosquito population, travel to every continent, end poverty, and let everyone on Earth know that they are loved. 


United Way celebrates April as National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month - a month set aside to inspire, recognize and encourage people to take action in their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.

While philanthropy provides critical funding for hundreds of causes, volunteers are an essential part of the success of United Way and the programs we support. Volunteers help cook meals for the homeless and run employee campaigns. They dig into financials, mentor our youth, and paint and clean up community spaces.  

April is National Volunteer Month, and in honor of its extensive network of volunteers, the United Way of 1000 Lakes has recognized several of these dedicated community members with their Volunteer of the Year awards. Continue reading



United Way Celebrates Dr. Seuss' Birthday with Book Drive 

Several childhood memories consist of reading “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Fox in Socks” and “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” Dr. Seuss is honored around the nation on his birthday, March 2nd. During the first week in March, United Way of 1000 Lakes will be collecting donations of new and gently used children’s books to celebrate Dr. Seuss birthday! Simply drop off the books at the United Way (located at 350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A, in Grand Rapids).

United Way hosts Bright Red Bookshelves in Grand Rapids, Inger, and Squaw Lake communities. The program promotes literacy development by getting hundreds of books into the hands and homes of young readers across the Itasca area.

As donations are received, books will be sorted, cleaned and labeled with a Bright Red Bookshelf sticker and then displayed on red painted bookshelves at various sites around the community. Coordinated by Project READ, a United Way grantee, the program promotes literacy by increasing book ownership in low-income homes, encouraging parent-child interactions with books, and developing confidence in young readers. 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr. Seuss

For a complete list of donation and bookshelf sites, and for more information on ways to spread the word on early literacy, visit www.projectread.net or call 327-5753.



Meet Sadie Blake, Promise Fellow

Mercede “Sadie” Blake is excited to serve at Greenway High School as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow for the remainder of this 2015-2016 school year.  A Promise Fellow is a program hosted through United Way that places individuals in various schools to create and develop strong voices within the youth. Through this program, Promise Fellows help 6th through 8th grade students acquire life-long skills to build a better future for them. 

A recent graduate of Mankato State University, Sadie has a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Middle School Communication Arts and Literature. She has a passion for working with youth, developing connections and helping foster effective skills for a successful future. Good teaching practices are essential for student success, and to attain that achievement, she values the importance of committing to lifelong learning as a teacher.  

Sadie is excited about working with young people in a leadership position. Her goal is to be a positive role model, letting the students know that she genuinely cares about them academically as well as individually. Sadie’s hope for these students is that they become as excited as she is about learning and about their future.  
 
Sadie continues to be excited about teaching, learning and growing in her profession. Serving as a Promise Fellow allows Sadie to give back to this wonderful community that has given her so many opportunities. She knows that she will grow as much, if not more, than the students she will help. Sadie values the opportunity to work with young people as a Promise Fellow and looks forward to seeing the growth in the students these next few months.




Five easy ways to show someone you care this Valentine’s Day

February 10, 2016

With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s the perfect time to show all the special people in our lives – neighbors, friends, family, and mentors – how much we care. It doesn’t have to be something big, just something thoughtful — a gesture of love, friendship or appreciation. We all have the power to let others know that they matter, and we all have the ability to show others that we care. Whether you have 5 minutes or 5 hours, here are a few examples:

1. Send a handwritten card.
A handwritten note allows your personality to come through. A personal card from you is unlike one that anyone else might send.

2. Make a donation in their honor.
Are they passionate about an issue or cause? Make a donation to their favorite charity in their name as a way to say thank you for all they do.

3. Pick up the phone and call.

Electronic communication is great, but there is nothing like hearing a friend's voice to lift someone’s day. The phone calls don't have to be long; just a few minutes every month can make a difference.

4. Give an unexpected gift.
Recognize someone who gives all year but never asks for anything in return, such as caregivers, volunteers, shelter workers or youth mentors. One idea could be a book you’ve read that you think they’ll love, with an inscription from you. It could be homemade bread or cupcakes. You don't have to spend a lot of money to show someone you care.

5. Plan an outing together.
One of the easiest ways to show someone that they matter is by spending time together. Meet them for coffee, invite them for dinner, take a long walk, see a movie, or volunteer together. The options are endless.

Photo courtesy of Delish Cupcakes and Sweets, Grand Rapids



Local Restaurants Team up to Support United Way

Local restaurants teamed up with United Way to improve lives and strengthen our community. The organization partners with local restaurants for various Dining United events during the month of October, raising a total of $1,310 to support the annual campaign. Partnering restaurants included: 17th Street Grill, Forest Lake, and Toivo’s Restaurant and Sports Grill. The United Way aims to raise $289,000 to support a network of more than 40 local programs and initiatives. 

United Way focuses on helping children succeed in school and life, providing tools for individuals and families to become financially stable, and addressing the critical basic needs of individuals and families experiencing hunger and homelessness. The campaign, Unleash Your Inner Hero, runs through May. For more information about United Way of 1000 Lakes or how to donate, visit www.unitedwayof1000lakes.org or call (218) 999-7570.

Timberlake Lodge Hotel 17th Street Grill serves a delicious menu of fish, steaks, pasta and more. This year they donated $5 from every pasta bar order to United Way, raising $710 to support education, financial stability and good health. Thank you to everyone who supported this event and all of our friends at Timberlake Lodge.

Toivo's owners, Nikki and Amy Toivonen present a $200 gift to United Way of 1000 Lakes. They pledged $1 for every dessert order, raising $200 for this year's campaign!

 


Our friends at Forest Lake Restaurant, Lounge & Steakhouse helped raised $400 for the United Way campaign.They pledged to donate $1 for every appetizer order during this year's Dining United events.


 


United Way Celebrates Annual Campaign

United Way of 1000 Lakes launched their annual campaign at a kick-off breakfast at Old Central School in Grand Rapids Saturday. This year’s theme, Together we can change the story, highlights local community members, who have been impacted by one or more of the 24 agencies support through the campaign.

The event featured a pancake breakfast, live broadcast from KOZY, pancake cook-off, pancake flip relay race and a variety of pancake themed activities for all ages.

Minneota Power’s Cook-off team, Tall Stacks, took home the title for their cream cheese filled Power Cakes. Other teams competing included Project Care Free Clinic, aka Project Pancake!; and Timberlake Lodge, AKA Timbercakes. Four teams competed in the Pancake Flip Relay, with the Grand Rapids Key Club taking the lead in the last leg of the race, winning the gold. Other relay teams participating were UPS, United Way Board of Directors, as well as a team made up of United Way Partnering Agency’s staff (KOOTASCA, Campus Life, Home Visitor and Project Care).

Celebrity judges for the contest included: Peter Birkey, United Way Board of Directors; Sheriff Vic Williams; Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation President; and Jeff Britten, Greenway High School Principal.

Now that the drive has officially begun, similar efforts are being planned for the community as a whole. Upcoming events include, United Way’s annual “Dining United” starting in October. Dining United The events provide an opportunity for individuals and businesses to make a single contribution that will impact more than 24 nonprofit agencies.

The “Small Business Blitz” campaign, where more than a dozen United Way volunteers call on small business owners and their employees to pledge funds to the United Way of 1000 Lakes. Funds raised stay in the Itasca County area for nearly 40 programs that focus on Education, Health and Income Stability. The week-long Small Business Blitz will kick-off on Monday, October 8.

The “Dining United,” is another campaign where local restaurants host special events each fall to support United Way of 1000 Lakes. This is a way restaurants, their employees and their patrons can come together to help those in need.

For more information about United Way or how to donate, visit www.unitedwayof1000lakes.org or call (218) 999-7570.


Pictured: NALC Branch #3610 food drive coordinators Dave Olson and Doug Pennertz unload donated food at the Grand Rapids Post Office during the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.


Local Letter Carriers Union collects donations for Food Bank

The National Association of Letter Carriers in Grand Rapids participated in the Stamp Out Hunger food drive on Saturday.

As letter carriers delivered mail Saturday, they also collected canned goods and other non-perishable food items left by residents near their mail boxes. Over 5,700 pounds of food and $461 in monetary donations were collected to assistance hundreds of children and adults who access the Grand Rapids Food Shelf. 

 “The letter carriers hard work and the generosity of the donors go a long ways to help make a better community and help feed local families,” according to Ellen Christmas, Program Manager.  “Their participation and extra effort during this national one day food drive helps call attention to the issue of hunger and helps fill the shelves of the Food Shelf at Second Harvest.”  

In its 23rd year, the annual food drive has grown to be the largest national single-day effort that benefits millions of Americans who struggle to put food on the table. Since the effort was started, the National Association of Letter Carriers has collected more than a billion pounds of food in more than 10,000 communities across the country.



United Way Celebrates Campaign Results

More than 140 energetic volunteers, donors, advocates, agency and community partners, and staff attending the campaign celebration on March 26th. Thanks to the tremendous generosity of hundreds of people in our region, the United Way campaign raised $290,000 to support critical programs and strategic initiatives essential to Itasca communities. 

Thanks to the tremendous generosity of those in our region, this year the community raised $290,000 to support critical programs and strategic initiatives essential to Itasca area. 
Guests of all ages were treated to music by area youth musicians – Matt Riehle, pianist and 12 members of the Itasca Orchestra & Strings Program. 

The program opened with a Social Media Mashup (see pictures from the event on Facebook/Twitter using #unitedwayhero). Highlights included the announcement of this year’s Best of Award winners, Volunteer of the Year and Youth Volunteer recipients. The evening also featured a young women named Chelsie who shared her personal journey and how United Way funded programs helped change her story, bringing the room to a standing ovation.

We also welcomed new board members and announced the 2015 United Way Board of Director President, Ken Kinsey, Essar. Peter Birkey, Liberty Mutual Retiree was named vice president; Itasca Tax & Consulting Service owner, Brad Zumbaum, was named Treasurer and Amanda Kluge of Minnesota Power was named Secretary. Others serving on the volunteer Board of Directors include: Becky Aho, Deerwood Bank; Davis, DC, Davis Chiropractic; Ben Denucci, Mayor of Nashwauk; Luke Francisco, Magnetation; Robbie Radaich, 4-H; Linnea Soular, DC, Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital and Jon Stemper, Higher Education and Non-Profit Consultant.

See pictures from the event on Facebook/Twitter using #unitedwayhero and check back for more event highlights and photos.





 

US Bank Supports Campaign with 100 Percent Participation

The United Way campaign has raised $180,815 towards its $300,000 goal. Helping the United Way campaign to the 60 percent mark was the staff of US Bank, with 100 percent employee participation in the workplace giving program for the campaign. In addition, US Bank matches employee donations dollar-for-dollar, doubling their impact on the greater Itasca community. 

If you have already made your United Way gift, thank you. If you haven’t yet given, please consider a gift of any amount – even $5 can make an impact. When you give to United Way, your gift is combined with the gifts of others and creates big change in our community.
• Give through your workplace campaign. For more information about how your company can participate, call 218-999-7570.
• Mail a check to United Way of 1000 Lakes, 350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.
• Donate on-line at www.unitedwayof1000lakes.org. Click on the “Give” button.

Here, Heather Dodd (left) and Amber Heinle (right) of US Bank present United Way of 1000 Lakes with US Bank’s corporate gift. 



 

Momentum Builds for United Way of 1000 Lakes Campaign 

The United Way of 1000 Lakes Unleash Your Inner Hero Campaign is building momentum, hitting the halfway point of the 2014 goal. Currently, the campaign has raised $151,786, and stands at 50% of the $300,000 goal and so far, 638 donors have already pledged their support. 

The United Way campaign supports local programs that help feed hungry families, assist the victims of domestic violence, provide child care for working parents, keep youth on track to graduation, provide shelter for the homeless and help for the sick – among a myriad of other services in the Itasca Area.

If you have already made your United Way gift, thank you. If you haven’t yet given, please consider a gift of any amount – even $5 can make an impact. That’s the beauty of United Way: when all those small gifts are combined, they create big change in our community.

United Way Board of Directors (left to right): Guy Clairmont, Madelen Schuemann, Peter Birkey, Brad Zumbaum and Luke Francisco post the 50% mark on the United Way Thermometer on the grounds of Old Central School.



 

United Way Celebrates Annual Campaign

United Way of 1000 Lakes launched their “Unleash Your Inner Hero” campaign at a kick-off breakfast at Old Central School in Grand Rapids. Executive Director, Kimberly Brink Smith announced this year’s dynamic team leading the charge to raise $300,000 for our community’s most vulnerable — Jim Hoolihan, Industrial Lube, Inc.; Kyle Erickson, MDI Deer River Hired Hands; Nikki Lehtinten, Independent School District 318; Matt Lehtinen, Magnetation; and Trish Klein, Itasca County.

The kick-off featured a pancake breakfast, live broadcast from KOZY, pancake cook-off, pancake flip relay race and a variety of lumberjack themed activities for kids. 



Kurt Ogles and Tom Scheirer of Ogle’s Marketplace Foods took home the title for their Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes. A total of seven teams entered the cook-off and pancake recipes ranged from a Red Velvet to S ‘mores. Other teams competing were Timberlake Lodge (Timber Jacks); Forest History Center (Big Jack & the Cookies); Minnesota Power (The Tall Stacks); MDI (Magnificent Delicious Incredibles); Project Care Free Clinic; and Itasca County (Team Alaskan Itaskan).




Four teams competed in the Pancake Flip Relay, with UPS (Universal Pancake Slingers) edging out the competition to win the race. The UPS team consisted of Jay Zapzalka, Dan Haider, Dan Johnson and Jared Stoneman. Other teams participating were United Way Board of Directors; Grand Rapids High School Key Club; and Grand Itasca.

 

United Way Receives Donation from American Bank
The United Way of 1000 Lakes is nearing the end of its annual campaign, with less than a month to raise funds for the 27 local agencies it supports. United Way of 1000 Lakes recently received a donation of $1,500 from American Bank. American Bank also conducted an annual campaign in the fall, which raised $3,500.

Amy Trast and Jennifer Baker of American Bank presented the check to United Way Board members, Wendy Uzelac, RE/MAX Thousand Lakes; and Ken Kinsey, Essar Steel on Thursday.
 

L  to R: Amy Trast, American Bank; Ken Kinsey, Essar Steel; Jennifer Baker,  American Bank; and Wendy Uzelac, RE/MAX Thousand Lakes.


 

Celebrating a Great 2013 Campaign!

On March 20th, we celebrated a successful 2013 United Way campaign and honored the best of the best campaigns with Best of Awards!

The Social Media Mashup along with the FAB Five Campaign Co-chairs kept the crowd of more than 120 attendees entertained at the Timberlake Hotel in Grand Rapids. And guests were treated to all the lights and excitement of the Academy Awards, including live motion picture music by U-Sax Quartet (members include Austin Erdman; Dillion Campbell; Alik VanReese Jasso and Alex Wooner) of Grand Rapids High School.

We welcomed new board members and announced the 2014 United Way Board of Director President, Madelen Schuemann, Minnesota Power retiree. President of Guy Clairmont Financial was named Treasurer and Brad Zumbaum was named Secretary. Others serving on the volunteer Board of Directors include: Peter Birkey, Liberty Mutual Retiree; Ryan Davis, DC, Davis Chiropractic; Ken Kinsey, Essar; Amanda Kluge, Minnesota Power; Linnea Soular, DC, Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital; Wendy Uzelac, RE/MAX; and Brad Zumbaum, Itasca Tax & Consulting Service.

Attendees at the event were also the first to see this year's Best of Award winners, honored for their 2013 campaigns. See pictures from the event on Facebook/Twitter using #unitedwayhero and check back for more event highlights.

We may have given out a lot of awards, but the real winner here is the community. On behalf of the people who will benefit from the generosity and support of all these partners' campaigns, thank you!

And to the teams at Itasca Tax Service; Minuteman Press; Miskovich Dental Clinic; Paul Bunyan Communications; Rapids Ford; RE/MAX Thousand Lakes; and The South Cabin Group. —thanks for making this event possible.

More than 120 guests attended the Campaign Celebration and Awards on March 20th at the Timberlake Hotel in Grand Rapids. 


 

Grand Rapids State Bank gifts help United Way reach 90% marker

The United Way of 1000 Lakes is nearing the end of its annual campaign to raise money for the 27 essential community organizations it serves. Grand Rapids State Bank recently completed their workplace campaign, which raised $6,343. More than a dozen employees at the Bank’s three locations pledged $5,343 through one-time donations and the company’s payroll deduction program. The Grand Rapids State Bank also contributed $1,000 corporate gift.

This year’s Community Campaign has raised a total of $280,000, about $25,000 short of its $305,000 goal. Approximately one-in-three are helped by one or more of the 40 local programs and initiatives supported by the United Way Campaign. Money raised here, stays here, to help people with disabilities, low-income seniors, disadvantaged youth, families-in-crisis, survivors of domestic violence, and many others.
If you have already made your United Way gift, thank you. If you haven’t yet given, please consider donating on-line at www.unitedwayof1000lakes.org or mailing a donation to United Way of 1000 Lakes, 350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.



Grand Rapids State Bank’s Steven Wilcox, Noah Wilcox, Shelly Steere and Edward Zabinski present a $6,343 campaign gift to Kimberly Brink Smith, United Way of 1000 Lakes Executive Director (left).