They left coats on trees and poles around Winston-Salem for people in need. Then they marveled at the kindness of others.

To Lois Koufman, the answer to a question that could have been answered in several ways on different levels was simple.

What possessed you to spend your afternoons buying up coats in Goodwill stores to hang in trees for homeless residents of town?

“Because it was cold outside,” she said.

Read more here

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.

Remembering Ron Drago

In lieu of flowers, Ron’s family has asked that memorial gifts be made to United Way of Forsyth County. Click here to make a memorial gift.

Ronald Joseph Drago passed away Sunday, May 20, 2018, after several years debilitated by Lewy body dementia. He was born on October 10, 1945 in Easton, PA, to Mae Bubba Holden. He was preceded in death by his mother, and his brother Robert Holden. He is survived by the loves of this life: his wife of 46 years, Lucinda Mahoney Drago; his son, Michael Drago (Paulette), Knightdale, NC; his daughter, Sarah Talman (Stefan), New York City; grandchildren: new born twins Grace and Ethan Drago, Gabby Phanor, and Jelena Cherubin; and his sister, Cynthia Holden Wimer. Emmaus, PA.

He graduated from Easton High School, and East Stroudsburg University, where he was also a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1967-69), in Sierra Leone, West Africa. His international experience continued with the US Agency for International Development in Danang and Saigon, Vietnam (1971-75). Following the end of the Vietnam War, Ron led the staff of International Rescue Committee at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, Seattle, WA, and Bangkok, Thailand, to assist in the resettlement of Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, and Cambodian refugees.

His 30-year career with United Way began in Harrisburg, PA, and included serving as the President of United Way of Northampton and Warren Counties (Easton and Bethlehem, PA), and of United Way of Wake County (Raleigh, NC). He retired after 16 years as the President of United Way of Forsyth County in 2011. He was passionate about the mission of the United Way to develop community-based collaborations to meet the needs of individuals in the areas of basic needs, education, financial stability, and health. His special forte was fundraising and strategic planning. He was inspired by the commitment of volunteer business and community leaders dedicated to creating positive changes in human services. Ron enjoyed filling his yard with pots of flowers, cheering for Wake Forest basketball and football teams as well as his lifelong loved New York Giants, meeting the early morning with a daily run, and adding to his Santa collection. He was always impeccably attired from his blue button-down lightly starched shirt in his African village to his coordinated running shorts with tucked in shirt.

A Memorial Mass will be held at St .Leo the Great Catholic Church, Winston-Salem, NC, on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the United Way of Forsyth County, 301 North Main Street, Suite 1700, Winston-Salem, NC 27101. Online condolences may be made at www.hayworth-miller.com.

Tocqueville Society Dinner Announced

We are excited to announce our annual Tocqueville Society invitation only dinner is just around the corner on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

We will celebrate philanthropic leaders across our community and showcase the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors!

Origins of the Tocqueville Society

Only 26 years old when he came to the United States and Canada in 1831, Alexis Charles-Henri de Tocqueville traveled extensively, recording his observations of life in the young nations.

Though he only spent nine months in North America, he gleaned many profound insights about American society. His observations, readings and discussions with eminent Americans formed the basis of Democracy in America, a detailed study of American society and politics published in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840.

Tocqueville recognized, applauded and immortalized North American voluntary action on behalf of the common good. He wrote: “I must say that I have seen Americans make a great deal of real sacrifices to the public welfare; and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend a faithful support to one another,” eloquently capturing the essence of personal philanthropy that persists almost three centuries later.

The observations on philanthropy made by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 are true today; North Americans understand that advancing the common good means creating opportunities for a better life for all. The name Tocqueville Society was chosen because of Alexis de Tocqueville’s admiration for the spirit of voluntary association and effort toward its advancement.

Membership Benefits

Specific local Tocqueville Society benefits differ by location; however, all Tocqueville Society members benefit from:

  • Joining a national network of philanthropic leaders who are engaged locally to create long-lasting, positive changes
  • Partnering with a quality organization and dedicated staff; ensuring that gifts, voice, and time are efficiently invested in local communities to maximize impact
  • The unique position of United Way as one of the world’s premier philanthropic organizations which can be used to convene community business and civic leaders focused on the building blocks of a good life: a quality education that leads to a stable job; income that can support a family through retirement; and good health.
  • Local Tocqueville Society leaders along with National Society and Million Dollar Roundtable members are invited to attend national and worldwide gatherings of Tocqueville and Million Dollar Roundtable Members.

Contact Cathy Coles at Cathy.Coles@uwforsyth.org or call 336.721.9370 to learn how you can become involved in the United Way Tocqueville Society and/or to inquire about membership benefits.

Dream Maker: Barbara Duck

“Through the United Way, I discovered a passion I never knew existed.”

Barbara Duck is a mom, mentor, and bank executive. Admittedly, Barbara was really only active in community service through her church prior to moving to Winston-Salem for her role at BB&T. But this relocation is where she found her passion for moving the community needle.

She discovered the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, which allowed her to become more involved in the bank and the community. It is here she learned the power of women connecting with other women, and how those relationships have led to community-changing philanthropy in Forsyth County. “The giving decisions of these women have changed educational outcomes in our community, and individuals are impacted by the collective work of women,” Barbara remarked.

Barbara’s newfound passion in the Women’s Leadership Council inspired her to create. She has committed time and resources to developing the Women’s Information Network at BB&T, also known as W.I.N., which focuses on ways to provide women with resources. With 70% of BB&T’s workforce being female, this gives them access to tools to help manage their careers and find mentors.

Today, we celebrate Barbara Duck as a DREAM MAKER. For leading innovative and systemic change in our Forsyth County!

Project Blueprint

Project Blueprint is a leadership development program designed to increase representation of underrepresented groups on local nonprofit boards and committees. The program consists of a series of training sessions that introduce participants to the roles and responsibilities of a nonprofit board while developing their skills to help them become successful board members.  United Way Worldwide launched Project Blueprint in 1987 as a pilot program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the first Project Blueprint class from United Way of Forsyth County graduated in 1992.  Since then over 200 individuals have graduated from the program.  Project Blueprint is now a partnership between United Way of Forsyth County and HandsOn Northwest North Carolina.

 

 

Goals.  Project Blueprint seeks to:

  • Recruit volunteers from underrepresented populations for involvement in nonprofit organizations
  • Develop and improve leadership skills
  • Improve service delivery through volunteer involvement in the workplace and community at large
  • Ensure that local volunteer leadership is more reflective of our diverse community
  • Create a network of ethnically and culturally diverse professionals
  • Place program graduates on local nonprofit boards or committees where they can use their knowledge and skills to serve their community

Eligibility.  Project Blueprint seeks applicants who:

  • Are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds
  • Exhibit or have the potential for leadership
  • Show an interest in community involvement and a desire to serve and strengthen our community
  • Will to commit to serve on a nonprofit board of directors or committee upon graduation from the program

What You Can Expect:

  • Acquire knowledge and skills needed to effectively serve on a nonprofit board or board committee
  • Build a peer group of other civic minded persons
  • Help with placement on a nonprofit board

Program.  Recruitment for the next Project Blueprint class begins in November and continues through the application deadline of February 16, 2018.  Class size is limited to ensure a high quality experience and more meaningful networking.  A half day orientation event will be held on March 14.  This event is followed by 9 consecutive classes that will meet each Tuesday, March 13-May 22 from 12-2 pm.  The program closely follows the Ten Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards, published by BoardSource, a nationally recognized organization dedicated to increasing nonprofit board governance.  Participants are also required to attend a Nonprofit Board Speed Dating event on Tuesday, May 22, to talk with various nonprofits about board and board committee opportunities.  All classes include a networking lunch.

Requirements. Participants are expected to attend all classes, so check your calendar to make sure the dates and times do not conflict with other commitments.  You may miss only one class in order to graduate from the program.  If more than one class is missed, you will be required to repeat the entire program.

Location.  Training sessions will be held at The Winston-Salem Foundation building, located at 751 West Fourth Street, Winston-Salem, 27101, on the 3rd floor in the Neill Board Room.

Cost.  The cost to participate in the program is $75 per person and is due by March 13, 2018.  Many companies sponsor their employees’ tuition, but a limited number of partial scholarships are available.  For information on scholarships, please email KathyDavis@HandsOnNWNC.org.

New Survey Finds Majority of Millennials Stress Over Filing Taxes

new survey, conducted by United Way Worldwide, finds that 74 percent of millennial respondents indicate they felt some level of stress around filing their returns. The survey of over 1,000 millennials (those between the ages of 18-36) reveals that common stressors include making a mistake (48 percent) and not getting a full refund (23 percent).

Additionally, the survey found that millennials are not claiming the tax credits that they have earned. Fifty percent of those surveyed did not claim any tax credits last year; 67 percent of respondents were interested in learning more about tax credits for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

United Way is proud to partner with H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) to provide MyFreeTaxes, a valuable tool that can ease the stress of tax season by helping filers claim the tax credits for which they qualify. MyFreeTaxes is a free, easy and safe tool for anyone earning less than $66,000 to file federal and state taxes.

“United Way’s free tax preparation service, MyFreeTaxes, is the longest standing service provided by a nonprofit,” said Mary Sellers, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide. “Our mission is to help every person in every community achieve financial stability. With so many millennials experiencing stress during tax season, we encourage them – and any qualifying individual – to use our free and easy tax preparation service. The tool will help them claim all the credits they deserve and save on tax filing fees in order to pay down debt, increase savings and reduce the stress they feel around tax season.”

MyFreeTaxes is completely free for households that earned less than $66,000 in 2017. United Way and longtime partner, H&R Block, have provided free tax filing services for federal and state taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 2009, helping almost one million taxpayers claim every tax deduction and credit for which they are eligible. These tax deductions and credits lead to refunds, totaling $180 million since 2009, that enable individuals and families to improve their financial stability by putting more money back in their pockets. United Way believes that people everywhere should have an opportunity to advance their economic status and is proud to partner with H&R Block to provide a valuable tool to help people better manage their money and get on more solid financial ground.

MyFreeTaxes

Qualifying filers, those earning less than $66,000, can enter data into a secure website, MyFreeTaxes.com, anytime, from anywhere, making it easy to update the documents from home, at work or on mobile devices. The service also includes a helpline, 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, which operates through April 30 from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm EST Monday through Friday and noon to 9:00 pm EST Saturday.  The website also provides a live chat function. MyFreeTaxes is provided by United Way and H&R Block, which offers safe and secure software and guarantees that tax returns are 100 percent accurate.

About United Way Worldwide

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.

About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE:HRB) is a global consumer tax services provider. Tax return preparation services are provided by professional tax preparers in approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail tax offices worldwide, and through H&R Block tax software products for the DIY consumer. H&R Block also offers adjacent Tax Plus products and services. In fiscal 2017, H&R Block had annual revenues of over $3 billion with 23 million tax returns prepared worldwide. For more information, visit the H&R Block Newsroom.

MEDIA CONTACT

Southerlyn Reisig, United Way
southerlyn.reisig@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703.836.7100 ext.321

Christine Sanchez, United Way
christine.sanchez@uww.unitedway.org
Tel. 703-836-7100 ext. 564

Susan Waldron, H&R Block
susan.waldron@hrblock.com
Tel. 816-854-5522

The Powerful Questions behind Jeff Bezos’ Philanthropy Tweet

In mid-June, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shook things up – again.

I’m not talking about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, although in many places that is a big deal.

I’m talking about Bezos’ tweet on June 15th, when he asked for ideas for his emerging philanthropy strategy.  Jeff said he spends most of his time working on ‘the long-term,’ but for philanthropy, he’s interested in the other end of the spectrum: the ‘right now.’

Jeff’s 140-character request gets at the heart of philanthropy.  How best can we create a happier and healthier society?  How do we balance support for urgent need with long-term solutions that attack root causes?

United Way works on both ends of this spectrum.  We support food kitchens, homeless shelters and health clinics.  We also bring community, business and government leaders together to examine long-term problems, like the jobs-skills divide, and find solutions that could take years to bear fruit.  Yet when they do, they create widespread positive change.

In response to Jeff’s tweet, I asked him to consider long-term needs in his philanthropy strategy.  One-hundred forty characters didn’t fully capture what I wanted to say, so I followed up with a letter.

In my letter, I told Jeff that he’s the kind of disrupting force that philanthropy needs.  He didn’t build Amazon into one of the world’s most powerful, game-changing companies without thinking about how technology would affect our lives or how we prefer to consume.  That’s why I think he should embrace a similar way of thinking when it comes to helping people lead better lives.

I asked Jeff, who started Amazon when the internet was in its infancy and now runs a revolutionary aerospace company, to ponder questions like these:

  • What systems can we change to help millions of people, not hundreds?
  • What partners can we cultivate to develop new technologies that allow people to do things like learn more – and learn faster?
  • What barriers can we break that keep us from coming together to solve our most difficult challenges?

In other words, I’m hoping Jeff is willing to disrupt philanthropy for the better.  Of course, he should address the many immediate needs facing our society – and his tweet received some great responses to that effect – but I’m hoping he’ll also apply his talents and experiences in creative, long-term ways.

I’m hopeful that Jeff will reply and ask how we can work together.  But I also want to know what you think.  How should non-profits and philanthropists balance short- and long-term needs?  How can philanthropy be ‘disrupted’ for the better?  How could technology play a part?

By BRIAN GALLAGHER , CEO, United Way Worldwide

Financial Stability: Ways to save for the future

Saving for the Future

How can you think about saving for the future when you have student loan debt, a car loan, credit cards or maybe all of these?  Saving for the future may be an idea that is hard to digest but it is one that is important to consider.  You may have dreams…of travel, getting married, or buying your own home.  Starting to save today will help you realize those dreams in the future.

To get where you want to go, you must first start by taking a look at where you are.  The best way to do that is by tracking your income and spending for a number of months until you start to notice the trends of how you spend your money.  Three months of tracking is a good place to start.  Track all of the income that you receive each month, through your steady job as well as any side jobs that you may have. Then track your spending.  Start with food and medicine, as they are the most important to your survival.  Then note your housing and transportation costs.  And don’t forget to track expenses that are not so predictable, like hobbies and entertainment.  By tracking your income and spending, you will have a good sense of where your money comes and goes.

Do the ways that you spend your money reflect your values? Help you to achieve your goals?  If the answer is yes, then keep doing what you are doing.  If the answer is no, then it may be time to reconsider the expense and make the changes necessary to align your spending with your values and goals.

You may need to make more room in your budget for saving.  Look at some of your larger expenses first. Housing tends to be one of the largest expenses in people’s budgets. Are you paying more than you should for housing in your area?  Maybe you can move to a smaller space, get a roommate, or move in with family for a period of time. Transportation costs can also grab a large percentage of your budget.  If you have your own car you are likely paying a car loan as well as insurance, gas and maintenance. Is is really necessary to own your own car? Is there reliable public transportation where you live and work?  Can you get by using public transportation along with the occasional ride share?  Reducing transportation costs can go a long way towards helping you save for other goals.

Then, look at your debt payments.  Interest payments add up over time and can take a big bite out of your budget.  If you are making minimum payments on your credit cards consider making higher monthly payments with a goal of eventually paying your credit card bills in full each month.  Also, take a look at your student loan payments.  Graduates are automatically set up in standard ten-year repayment terms that can be difficult to pay each month.  If that is the case for you then contact your loan servicer to discuss other repayment options.

What are your goals?

It is easier to stay on track with saving if there is something you want to save for.  To reach a SMART goal, you will need to make a plan. The framework SMART stands for:

  • Specific – clearly define your goal, including a timeframe for achieving it.
  • Measurable – if your goal involves a financial commitment, you can measure progress by how much you saved toward it.
  • Attainable – is acheving your goal more important than the time, effort, and money it will take, compared to all of your other obligations and priorities?
  • Relevant – why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
  • Timely – assigning a deadline for your goal will motivate you and keep you accountable.

Applying SMART Goals to your dreams brings them from the abstract to the concrete. It gives you a timetable by which you can achieve them. If discover that your goals isn’t as realistic as you once thought, you can change the scope or timeline to make it a goal that you can attain.

Automate, automate, automate

There is a saying that you should “pay yourself first.”  But how can you do that when there are so many other spending priorities competing for your attention?  The easiest way to do that is to automate your savings. You can use either direct deposit or an automatic transfer from checking to savings each month.  Start small:  an automatic transfer of $10 each week will grow your savings balance to $500 within a year and $1,000 by the end of the second year.

For more tools and resources click here.

A story of addiction, a family reunion, and new found hope. Meet Denita Mitchell.

Dear Forsyth County,

As a child, I never felt like I belonged. I was teased because of large scaring on my leg and all I wanted was to just fit.

My self-esteem and self-respect were really low and I began trying drugs and alcohol to try to fit in with everyone.

I never thought they would lead to nearly destroying my life.

As an adult, I turned against my family, my daughter, and most of all myself. My whole life became centered around

drugs, alcohol, and masking feelings. I was not able to keep myself employed. I went in and out of institutions and my

life had become me just existing in society. I was hopeless and depressed.

One day I finally admitted it and my family took me in for an interview at Hawley House, a program of the YWCA of

Winston-Salem funded by United Way of Forsyth County, and through Hawley House, I began to have hope again. The

start of my journey was learning about the disease of addiction, enrolling in substance abuse counseling and life

skills training, taking a self-inventory, and re-engaging with my spirituality.

Today, I work at the Hawley House knowing that if I can recover in any area of my life with support, others can too. It is a privilege to work with and give back to the women at Hawley House — a place that helped change my life. I have also obtained my Nursing Assistance 1 Certification in Medication Administration and I was recently ordained as a Deacon of my church. I was able to support my lovely daughter, who has graduated from East Carolina with a BA in Nursing.

I am truly grateful for United Way’s funding and support of this program. I share my story with you to encourage you to be generous once again with a year end gift and match or exceed your donation to the United Way of Forsyth County so that others like me can build a brighter future filled with promise.

Gratefully,

Denita