Surviving Cancer and Life’s Challenges- Betty’s Story

As a widow and living alone, Betty didn’t have any support in place when she was diagnosed with Stage II cancer in August of 2017 at the age of 60.
She underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, because of her diagnosis she had to stop work as a custodial worker and she was without income during her treatment , as well as becoming uninsured. Family support was very limited. Our United Way funded partner Cancer Services, Inc. was been able to assist her with the cost of her medications, nutrition, purchasing medical supplies and providing transportation to her treatments.
Due to her having no income, the United Way of Forsyth County was able to assist her in finding outside resources to help her with rent and utilities while she was applying for Social Security benefits, which meant she was able to remain in her home.
This transitional support allowed Betty to focus on her treatment and create a more manageable life while being out of work and not worrying about bankruptcy and greater debt.
For cancer patients, psychological stress adds to the burden imposed by the disease and the sometimes difficult aspects of treatment; United Way was able, with your support, to remove those barriers so Betty could focus on bating her cancer.

Surviving Domestic Violence with the Help of United Way Funded Partners

“Sonia” entered the Family Services Women’s Shelter with her 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter after fleeing from her husband and what she described as a verbally, emotionally, sexually, and physically abusive marriage. He had a substance abuse problem which made his mood swings and reactions unpredictable. She had been coping with a variety of controlling and threatening behaviors and was fearful that he would find her. Each of her children had witnessed domestic violence and she was concerned about their reactions to these traumas. Sonia was 44 years old, completed two years of college, however was depressed, fearful, and close to giving up on her future.
How the United Way Helped:
Sonia and her children received information on Family Services, Inc. Intimate Partner Abuse program funded by United Way. While residing at the Shelter, Sonia was actively involved in counseling and supportive services. She stayed for just over 90 days, increasing her knowledge on domestic violence and safety planning for herself and her children. She was able to identify her vocational, employment, and financial goals. Sonia was determined to provide for her children and herself. She located summer activities and involved her son in football and her daughter in cheer leading.
The impact?
Sonia also entered the Rapid Re-Housing Program and acquired a stable home environment for her family. The Rapid Re-Housing program educated Sonia on how to be a good tenant, how to maintain housing, and provided temporary financial assistance. Since her transition from the shelter, Sonia was able to receive Tenant-Based Rental Assistance through the Housing Authority of Winston Salem and accessed full time employment as a certified nursing assistant at a local assisted living facility. Sonia now embraces a look of confidence and feels she is more knowledgeable about what a healthy relationship looks like.
Our hope is that because of continued support from the community, families like Sonia’s can imagine brighter futures which can then become a reality. Through the collaboration of the United Way, Family Services and the Rapid Rehousing, Sonia’s is living a safe and healthy life.

Press Release: Reynolds American, Inc, BB&T, HanesBrands and Inmar Receive United Way Spirit of North Carolina Awards

Winston Salem, NC  – Reynolds American, Inc (Manufacturing 2501-5000 Employees), BB&T, (Financial/Banking Institution 2501-5000 Employees), HanesBrands (Retail 1501-2500 Employees and Inmar, Inc (Professional Services 501-1000 Employees) have each been awarded the annual Spirit of NC Award.

 

On a yearly basis, United Way of North Carolina recognizes organizations that have succeeded in raising funds to support their community and have dedicated themselves to being part of the long-term solution to build stronger communities.  Judges from across North Carolina reviewed more than 50 applications to select winners who were honored in Pinehurst at the Spirit of North Carolina Award Lunch on February 13.

 

Leading beyond the traditional fundraising campaign, these winners created opportunities to educate employees on community needs, led by those at the top of the organizational chart; motivated campaign participants to give by exposing them to real stories of need; and provided volunteer opportunities so that donors could offer their knowledge and their hands to serve their community.

 

“The Spirit of North Carolina Award recognizes the collaborative partnerships United Way of Forsyth County builds with its supporters,” said Cindy Gordineer, President and CEO of United Way of Forsyth County.  “We are honored to have Reynolds American, BB&T, HanesBrands and Inmar, Inc. as  key stakeholders for a shared future where everyone in our community thrives and reaches their full potential.”

 

Winners were determined by a panel of 24 judges from United Way organizations across the state. For more information about the Spirit of North Carolina Award and a complete list of winners, visit unitedwaync.org/spirit-north-carolina-award-winners.

 

Why It Matters- Israel Suarez’s Story

Imagine being a single mother of three children, earning $13,000 a year, and learning that your oldest son has cancer. For Israel Suarez’s mother, struggling to make ends meet and trying to ensure your children have food, becomes more than second nature, it becomes a crisis and a matter of life or death. Fortunately for Israel, United Way funded programs paved the way for his family to overcome their circumstances. Learn more as Israel tells his story here

Press Release: Weston Award for Nonprofits to Increase to $50,000

February 12, 2019- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : Weston Award for Nonprofits to Increase to $50,000

The Joel and Claudette Weston Award has honored and recognized leadership and excellence in nonprofit management at local organizations for more than 30 years.  Joel A. Weston, Jr. was a senior executive at the Hanes Companies and an active member of the Winston-Salem community.   He served as president of the United Way of Forsyth County Board from 1980-1982. Joel believed strongly that nonprofit organizations should be well run and efficient and he introduced many innovative programs designed to strengthen charitable organizations and the community.   He passed away unexpectedly in 1984.  The Weston Award Endowment was founded in 1985 at The Winston-Salem Foundation by family and friends of Joel A. Weston as a way to honor his vision and dedication to the community.   In 1985 the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence was established to recognize local human service agencies that are performing at peak efficiency.  Today, Joel’s widow, Claudette Weston, continues the family tradition of community involvement and philanthropy through her efforts on numerous boards and organizations and as a member of the Weston Award Committee.

 

What is The Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management?

Every other year any nonprofit agency in Forsyth County can submit an application to win the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence.  An agency that wins the award must wait five years to apply again. The application is a rigorous evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management: financial and personnel management, program development and effectiveness, long range planning, marketing, fund-raising, board development, etc.

All applications are reviewed by a 16 member Weston Award committee.  In addition, the committee hears an oral presentation by representatives of each applicant agency.  Site visits are included in the review process if necessary.   The winner is presented with the prestigious and much coveted bi-annual award, and beginning in 2019, a grant award to the organization of $50,000. 

What does the Weston Award Accomplish?

The Weston Award recognizes, affirms, encourages and financially supports the best- run charitable organization in Forsyth County as selected every other year by the Weston Award Committee.  The Award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management.   In filling out the award application, nonprofit organizations can assess and receive feedback on how their agency measures up against best practices in human service agency management.  The award promotes efficiency, competence, fiscal integrity, innovation and program effectiveness.  Nonprofit management excellence in turn equates to a community that can better help its most vulnerable citizens, maximize philanthropy and enhance quality of life for all.

“Joel and I always believed in giving back to the community. The spirit of this award is to honor non-profits or social services organizations that enhance lives, but do so with the most efficiency,” said Claudette Weston.

 

“The Joel Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management had a tremendous impact on me as a leader and on the agency that I represented.  I can’t say enough about the good that it has accomplished.” Richard Gottlieb, President emeritus, Senior Services

 

For more information: Noelle Stevenson at noelle.stevenson@uwforsyth.org

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Press Release : Forsyth County Receives $150,000 Through Grant Program by National Nonprofit StriveTogether to Improve Results at Major Milestones for Kids

WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA​ — The Forsyth Promise, a collaborative, education-focused initiative working to improve systemic outcomes for all of Forsyth  County’s students, has received $150,000 from StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working  to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids.  The Forsyth Promise will use its grant award to activate the power of those with lived  experience in Forsyth County to plan and implement strategies that improve core community  education outcomes by reducing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.

“The difficult challenges we face will not be quickly or easily resolved. They require our  community to build new relationships, work across sectors, coordinate, and align. New  solutions require a willingness to change the ways we think and work. The data from our 2018  report is clear: although many core community education measures are holding steady improving for aggregate students, our system is not working for all students. There are  significant disparities in outcomes across all measures for which disaggregated data is  available and these disparities fall along racial / ethnic and socio-economic lines,” said  Wendy Poteat, Partnership Director of The Forsyth Promise.

The grant award from StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge program will  allow The Forsyth Promise to build a network of grassroots community advocates and  leaders. These grassroots leaders will share data and lived experiences to build a common  perspective of our challenges and opportunities, collaborate on identifying the most critical  issues to prioritize, and advocate and mobilize to move the needle on these community-wide  priorities for education.

The Forsyth Promise has been awarded a grant from the ​Promising Practices Fund​, which is  intended to find local projects applying bold strategies that can be spread across StriveTogether’s national network. These projects will focus on deeper community  engagement and align education with other sectors such as health, housing and  transportation. Eleven community-based organizations were awarded grants of up to $150,000 for one year.

Through the Community Challenge, up to $7 million over the next three years will fund  projects across the country that advance equity and spread bold strategies to help students  progress from kindergarten to postsecondary completion and a job. During this round of  grants, 10 communities also were selected for the Accelerator Fund. Communities in the  StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply for the Community Challenge.

“StriveTogether launched the Cradle to Career Community Challenge because we refuse to  settle for a world in which a child’s ability to thrive is dictated by factors like race or income,”  StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “From partners across the country, we  know the urgency of this work and the value of creating lasting change in communities. We  are proud to start this year supporting 21 cradle-to-career partnerships to get real results for  youth and families.”

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As a Collective Impact Partner of United Way of Forsyth County, the Forsyth Promise​ facilitates education-focused collaborative, community-wide planning  and action in Forsyth County, North Carolina. They provide a framework to help all community stakeholders work together toward the goal of improved educational outcomes for all  students — from cradle to career. Our core values are Educational Equity, Inclusive  Stakeholder Engagement, and Data-Driven Decision Making. For more information, visit  ForsythPromise.org.

About StriveTogether 
StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: help every child succeed in  school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In  partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides  resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The  StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.5 million students, involves 10,800  organizations, and has partners in 30 states and Washington D.C.

Women’s Leadership Council Annual Celebration Recognizes Local Volunteers , Students and Educators

November 2, 2018 For Immediate Release
The United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council of Forsyth County held their annual celebration and awards banquet at the Millennium Center, November 1, 2018
Founded in 2007, to date they have recruited over 1,000 members and raised over $5.5 million to support United Way’s effort to increase the graduation rate in Forsyth County to 90%. Focusing their attention on middle schools, their goal is to prepare students to be successful and hit the ground running as they begin 9th grade.
This year’s celebration recognized Lucy Williams, Reynolds American as the Outstanding Volunteer. This award recognizes an outstanding individual who has given their time and talent as a leader and volunteer.  The 2018 Corporate Award, which recognized the largest number of new WLC members in the 2018 campaign year, was awarded to BB&T. The Outstanding Educator Award which recognizes an educator’s passion and dedication for educating successful youth ready to enter the world of today, was awarded to Jason Pender, Mineral Springs Middle School. The Outstanding Youth Award, which recognized a student for their growth and persistence to learn while overcoming challenges, was awarded to DaChaari Obey, Philo-Hill Magnet Academy. The 7th Annual Susan Cameron award, which honors a woman who empowers other women in the community, was awarded to Betty Lou Vontsolos, of Inmar, for her leadership and her passion for growing the impact WLC has on our community  .
United Way President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “This was a great opportunity not only to celebrate the contributions our WLC has made to the community, but to honor outstanding students, educators, volunteers, and corporations. The Women’s Leadership Council works to educate women about our community’s most pressing needs, engage women as philanthropic leaders,  and most importantly, empower women to be a part of positive change in our community”.
For more information about the Women’s Leadership Council please visit: www.forsythunitedway.org.

United Way and Nest Provide Energy Assistance With ‘Keep Your Neighbors Warm’

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—United Way Worldwide announced today that it is partnering with Nest, a leading manufacturer of smart home products – including thermostats – for “Keep your Neighbors Warm,” a campaign that supports United Way’s efforts to provide energy assistance through the critical 2-1-1 service in communities nationwide.

“Keep Your Neighbors Warm” is part of Nest’s Power Project, a platform backed by Google’s sustainability initiatives that is aimed at helping low to moderate income customers dealing with high-energy costs. Those who wish to donate should visit Nest.com/powerproject, or text WARMTH to 40403.

Energy assistance ranks as the second highest request nationally made to the 2-1-1 network with 1.7 million calls in 2017 from people across the United States seeking help paying their utility or energy bills.

Donations to the campaign will provide capacity-building support for the 2-1-1 network, including investments in artificial intelligence, texting hotlines, and website enhancements, to serve more people in need of energy assistance.

“We are grateful to Google, Nest and the ‘Keep Your Neighbors Warm’ campaign for raising awareness about – and supporting solutions for – a crisis facing millions of households every year,” said Rachel Krausman, Senior Director of 2-1-1, United Way Worldwide. “The campaign gives people a vehicle to support United Way and 2-1-1, so we can continue the fight for the health – and warmth – of the communities that we serve.”

About 2-1-1
2-1-1 is a free, confidential service that connects individuals to resources and services in their local communities by phone, text and on the web. In 2017, the 2-1-1 network responded to more than 14 million requests for assistance. The service is available to 94 percent of the U.S. population, including Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and is also available in most of Canada. Individuals in need or who are looking for information for someone else can dial 211 from a cell phone or landline to reach a community specialist or visit 211.org for more contact options.

United Way #1 on Forbes Lists of Top Charities

The end of the year is traditionally a time of giving to relatives, friends and charity. To help you with the charitable part, Forbes presents a special package of advice on how to make the most of your donor dollars.

The centerpiece is our 20th annual list of the 100 largest U.S. charities, compiled once again by William P. Barrett. This elite group together received $49 billion in gifts, a whopping 12% of the $410 billion taken in by the country’s 1 million-plus nonprofits. We evaluate each on several financial-efficiency metrics. In a separate story, Barrett describes Forbes’ methodology and how it can be used to evaluate any charity, large or small, as well as how to check out those organizations that make cold-calls to your home asking for money. Rather give to the little guy than the charitable powerhouses? In this package, Kelly Erb begins her annual series—The 12 Days of Charitable Giving—highlighting small, reader-nominated organizations doing good work. First up: a Los Angeles not-for-profit that helps low-income women deal with tax problems and the IRS.

In addition to picking worthy charities, you can maximize your charitable impact by making Uncle Sam your partner; after all, if you get a tax break for giving, you can afford to give more. The new tax law makes it tougher to benefit from the itemized deduction for charitable giving, but in a separate story Erb offers 14 tips on how even ordinary taxpayers can still qualify. Meanwhile, Ashlea Ebelingand Martin Shenkman describe smart strategies for wealthy donors who want to make large gifts—now and in their estate plans.

Read more here

Farm Bill Update

On December 12, 2018, Congress crossed the finish line on a final bipartisan Farm Bill, with the House voting in support of the bill 369-47 on the heels of the Senate’s passage, 87-13. The final bill largely resembles the bipartisan SNAP provisions in the original Senate bill that the United Way network strongly championed throughout 2018.

The Farm Bill conference report preserves access to nutritious food for those who need it most by keeping the current SNAP eligibility requirements and work provisions and maintaining state flexibility. It also makes incremental changes that support work by strengthening the SNAP E&T program and its connection to employers and existing workforce infrastructure, and improving program integrity by modernizing verification systems and instituting checks to prevent duplicate receipt of benefits across states. ‘

We celebrate this victory as a bipartisan win that helps children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and working Americans keep food on the table.