Stuff the Bus With School Supplies
Thank you to the participating individuals and organizations for helping to supply school materials to the kids in Central Jersey. Twenty six schools received backpacks, note books, pens and colored pencils, all kinds of folders and pads and much more. Kids receiving free lunch qualified to receive. Teachers and administrators distribute to needy kids as necessary.
United Way of Central Jersey held a school supplies drive in Milltown during one of the wettest days of the summer. Despite the weather, the community did a great job of “stuffing the bus” with their donations for needy kids. The dollar amount of school supplies raised was $41,487.66.
Why Volunteer With UWCJ?
Three brief interviews with UWCJ volunteers to answer this question.
Larry O’Connell, Chair, Chief Volunteer Officer
Mr. O’Connell explained his reason for volunteering at UWCJ, “Because United Way is a great organization of people committed to improving education, income and the health of our Central NJ community – values we all can identify with. Working with United Way gives me the opportunity to apply professional skills that help UWCJ make long-lasting change in the community. For example, I had the opportunity to develop a strategic plan with a group of board members, staff and stakeholders that analyzed all aspects of the current environment including the needs of the community and the existing resources available to help the needy.” The resulting strategy focuses UWCJ’s efforts on areas of greatest need to generate results with the greatest effectiveness.
“There is tremendous satisfaction in doing something that makes a difference in a large number of people’s lives. It’s different from distributing food to a few families, which is important and provides immediate satisfaction,” said Mr. O’Connell. “I believe there is an important role for both “smart heads” – i.e. people who lend there professional skills and “smart hands” – people who lend their time, talent and effort - to make a positive change in the community most effectively. Most people think volunteering is only a “smart hands” activity, but I want them to know that “smart head” volunteers are needed too.” Asked what other opportunities are available for volunteers to use their professional skills, Larry mentioned:
Camilla Lauricella – Vice Chair, Community Needs
Ms Lauricella explains, “I believe in being a good steward of my gifts of time, talent and treasure, so I am careful of the way I invest these. UWCJ best meets my personal need for efficiency and effectiveness.” United Way has a leadership role in the Central Jersey community to measure the pulse of the community’s needs and identify the best strategy to address the most critical of these needs.
“UWCJ develops solutions to the root of society’s issues not just quick fixes.” An example is a partnership established with Visiting Nurse Association to implement the Nurse-Family Partnership. This strategy to improve birth results among low-income, at risk mothers was brought to the region by UWCJ having achieved positive results in research tracking studies. “My time and talent and treasure is being invested in a way that I know is effective and efficient, and that is why I am volunteering with United Way of Central Jersey.”
Jane Leal – Vice Chair, Brand Strategy
“It’s very satisfying to put together programs that meet critical human needs in the community.” That is how Ms Leal explains her feelings about her volunteer experience at UWCJ. Need identification is a critical part of what United Ways across the country do. Then strategies that address those needs – and that have measurable results – are identified for implementation in Central Jersey.
Ms Leal pointed to the Parent-Child Home Program as an example of a strategy brought to New Jersey for the first time by UWCJ. Extensive research indicates this program has a positive impact on early literacy and school preparedness. Since only 40% of kids tested have the skills to start school, this program makes a critical difference in school success. As Ms Leal commented about UWCJ, “You know money is invested effectively.”
Please call Gloria Aftanski 732 247-3727 if you have any interest in volunteering at UWCJ
Do You Know Who Decides How the Money United Way Raises Each Year is Invested in the Community?
Concerned, caring people like you make that decision, and YOU can be one of them by volunteering to serve as a member of a Community Investment Vision Council.
Each year the United Way recruits community volunteers to allocate funds in support of our three priority impact areas:
Each Vision Council will be chaired by an experienced volunteer who will guide you and your fellow Council members through the process. United Way staff will be available for assistance as well as attend all meetings. A volunteer orientation and training session will be scheduled prior to reviewing proposals. You will also be asked to conduct site visits to organizations that are requesting funding, if your schedule permits, to gain a fuller understanding of the program, the community and observe the program in action.
If you are interested in this unique opportunity to make an important difference in our communities, you can apply online at the United Way website at www.uwcj.org or you may contact June M. Launay at the United Way by phone, 732-247-3727, ext. 37 or by email, email@example.com.
What Our Volunteers Are Saying About the Community Investment Process:
“I found this to be the best way to spend my time and have a positive effect on the lives of the people in our community.” Agnes B.
“It gave me an opportunity to learn from those who have been doing wonders for our community, and to assist in clarifying how to provide support to the neediest populations and more efficient programs.” Sol H.
"It's the doing that counts! Volunteering in community service helps everyone - the sponsor, the recipient, and the volunteer.” Justin F.
“I really recommend serving on one of United Way’s community investment panels. It’s a hands-on way of getting to know about important programs that are meeting needs and achieving measured results. And participation is greatly valued at UWCJ because we understand the importance of input from a wide variety of our neighbors.” Jane L.
Volunteers from Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc. in Piscataway paint a woman’s shelter.
UWCJ Requests Grant Proposals
On Thursday, September 16, 2010, the United Way of Central Jersey (UWCJ) held a Technical Assistance Workshop at the Middlesex County Fire Academy to review the 2011-2012 Funding Process. The workshop was mandatory for all agencies applying for program support in the July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 funding year. Chief Professional Officers, Chief Volunteer Officers, agency program and finance staff were strongly encouraged to attend.
UWCJ, under the leadership of the United Way Worldwide, works to advance the common good by focusing on the building blocks for a good life, Education, Health and Income. The UWCJ Board is committed to children and families, recognizing that children need a safe and supportive home in order to successfully grow and develop into productive, contributing members of our society. For the 2011-2012 program year, UWCJ’s Community Investment process will continue to focus on leading the delivery of coordinated, mutually supportive, differentiated services in the following areas:
Community Investment Volunteers will review the applications, interview the applicants and in some cases visit program sites. A full description of the review process is available by contacting June Launay 732 247-3727.
One of the panel leaders told applicants about the importance in the decision-making process of having evidence for program results. Sol Heckelman, one of the Panel Leaders, expressed his view that since resources are not available to provide for all the needs in the non-profit community, “…we owe it to the contributing members of the general community, and to the clients being served, to carefully and thoroughly determine which programs actually achieve the beneficial results we all hope for.” Therefore, investment allocation panel members look for evidence that program results are being achieved.
For example, a tutoring program may request funds from United Way based on the promise that tutoring will improve the school grades for program participants. If grades are not available from schools because of privacy restrictions, then the program has to provide an alternative measurement standard. “It’s not enough to point to attendance in the program.” Mr. Heckelman urged grant applicants to decide what observable improvements in their clients’ knowledge, skills, or behavior the program aims to show and measure these directly.
Members of the community are urged to play a part in the investment allocation process. Please contact June Launay at 732 247-3727 for more information.
United Way of Central Jersey’s Quality Initiative Helps Child Care Centers Gain NAEYC Re-accreditation
Three child care centers participating in United Way’s Quality Initiative were recently reaccredited by The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Edgar Child Care Center in Edison, Our Savior Child Care Center and Ken Shirk Child Care Center in Metuchen achieved accreditation and are all part of the Metuchen-Edison-Woodbridge YMCA.
Every dollar invested in quality early care and education saves taxpayers as much as $13 in future costs, according to the Legal Momentum’s Family Initiative study. Their research has shown that children who receive quality early education arrive at school ready to learn and with better developed social skills, do better in school, need fewer costly special education classes and are more likely to graduate from high school and hold jobs.
The purpose of the United Way Quality Initiative is to ensure high-quality early childhood care that will support the development and learning of all young children in Middlesex County and Franklin Township. The program is currently working with 8 not-for-profit child care centers for a 12 to 18 month period. Support includes intensive technical assistance, training, policy development, mentoring, materials, grants and support leading to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation or re-accreditation. NAEYC Accreditation means that a child care center has demonstrated a commitment to providing high quality services, has a developmentally appropriate curriculum, quality interactions among children and staff, and provides a safe and healthy environment.
United Way of Central Jersey congratulates the staff at the three centers and the Quality Initiative for the hard work and dedication to excellence that has resulted in their well-deserved re-accreditation.
Conference on Diabetes and its Complications – November 20th
The New Americans Program of United Way of Central Jersey will present a conference concerning the health of Asian Seniors and Caregivers on November 20th, from 8am to 3pm. Breakfast and Lunch will be provided. Contact Jagdish Vasudev at firstname.lastname@example.org, 732 247-3727, for more information.
According to “Diabetes Barometer” from Novo Nordisk, the annual cost of diabetes was $218 billion in 2007 and one out of two American adults report feeling affected by Diabetes. 24% say they have been diagnosed by a physician as having Diabetes or as being at-risk for Diabetes and 94% consider Diabetes to be a serious national health issue.
Join us on November 20th to learn more about Diabetes and its complications. E-mail email@example.com for more information.
10-Year Plan to End Homelessness
United Way of Central Jersey (‘UWCJ’) is actively engaged in efforts to implement the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness as adopted by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. To date, UWCJ has supported the new non-profit agency charged with providing leadership in implementing the 10-Year Plan, Coming Home of Middlesex County (‘CHMC”), via financial and non-financial support.
UWCJ’s support of the county’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness has now expanded with the addition of UWCJ expertise. Ms. Bobbin Paskell, MSW, Director of Middlesex County Differential Response, has recently agreed to Chair the Education and Prevention sub-committee.
Middlesex County is home to one of the highest fair market rents in the state. 40% of renters pay more than 30% of their income on housing expenses. Even for those with incomes above the poverty level, there is a severe strain due to housing expenses.
With so many Middlesex County residents paying housing costs in excess of 30% of their income, residents are at an increased risk for losing their housing. Often times, those paying excessive housing costs are one or two paychecks away from homelessness. An unforeseen event, such as illness, could easily start an otherwise stable household down the path to housing instability and ultimately, homelessness.
Key features of the Plan include:
For more information, contact Gloria Aftanski 732 247-3727.