United Way Forsyth County Supports Residents of Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Winston-Salem, NC – August 31, 2017 –On August 26, 2017, at 3:00 a.m. local time, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane. As of Sunday, August 27, 2017, the storm has stalled, however it has caused catastrophic flooding across much of southeastern Texas.

It is in times of need that we discover the full impact of a community United. As Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on homes and communities across Southeastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana—producing up to 50 inches of rain in some areas—United Ways across the region are helping families face devastating losses from the historic flooding with an eye toward long-term recovery.

The largest of its kind to make landfall in the United States since 2005, Hurricane Harvey has left a wake of destruction in its path—but there is hope. From Hurricane Katrina to the flooding in Tamil Nadu, India, United Ways have a history of coordinating community responses to help those affected by natural disasters. Whether by raising funds to aid in relief efforts, engaging first-responders or mobilizing partners to help with on-the-ground long-term recovery, United Ways offer help when it is most needed.

United Way of Forsyth County will match all donations made here up to $100,000 and will donate half of all funds to the United Way of Greater Houston for longer-term rebuilding efforts. The other half will go to the American Red Cross for more immediate disaster relief. UWFC asks that the Winston Salem, Forsyth County community join in supporting the United Way of Greater Houston and the American Red Cross in their efforts to help residents in Texas and Louisiana recover.

UWFC President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, ” We are confident that these funds will help the United Way of Houston and the surrounding communities to rebuild. We also hope that Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents will continue to assist those that are in need in our community every day through our 2017 Annual Community Campaign.”

If individuals would like to make an additional gift to support relief efforts in Texas they may go here: https://www.crowdrise.com/forsyth4houston

If you or someone you know needs assistance, 2-1-1 across all affected areas is operational. If someone you know needs help, they can call 2-1-1, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There may be a wait, but calls will be answered. In case of emergency, dial 9-1-1. 2-1-1 is a free, confidential service that connects people from all communities to essential health and human services—24 hours a day, seven days a week. 2-1-1 will remain open and ready to provide local information about evacuation routes, shelters, food and water, health resources, and other needs throughout the storm.

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.


Students, Set Your New Year’s Resolution Today

August may seem like an awkward time to post about New Year’s resolutions, but for millions of college students the start of the school year holds greater significance than the change in calendar year. A new school year means a new chapter and a fresh start. It’s a chance to purge bad habits and replace them with better ones.

Typical school year’s resolutions usually relate to improving academic performance: a pledge to study harder, finish assigned readings, attend class more… That sort of thing. Sometimes students set health-focused goals like eating healthier or vowing to use their free campus gym more (trust me, you will miss it when you graduate).

This year, in addition to your other school year’s resolutions, consider making a commitment to volunteer as a reader, tutor or mentor. Of course, just making a resolution is easy – staying committed is the tricky part.

Here’s a tip: sticking to a resolution is always easier when you do it with friends. Inviting your friends to get involved will increase your impact and make your volunteering experience more enjoyable. You may run into friends that are nervous about getting involved. If your friends are interested in joining the cause but are still apprehensive, it may help to know some of the most common excuses along with a few facts to rebut those claims:

  • “I’m taking a lot of credits this semester! I don’t have time to volunteer.” I understand where you’re coming from. After all, school comes first and you don’t want to jeopardize your success by putting too much on your plate. But let’s take a closer look for a moment. There are 168 hours in a week. Assuming you get eight hours of sleep per night, you’re still left with 112 hours to be productive. Subtract from that your average weekly workload of 15 hours of class time plus two hours of studying for every credit hour you’re taking (which is probably generous) and you still have 67 hours at your discretion. Considering the fact that a recent study found the average college student watches 10 hours of television per day, it’s hard to imagine you can’t find an hour per week to give back.
  • “I don’t know anything about kids, education or early literacy.” Who cares? Some of the simplest tasks, like reading a book to a preschooler or eating lunch with a sixth grader, can have a huge impact when you volunteer in a structured environment. The staff at your volunteer site will be able to help you if you have questions, and it’s unlikely they’ll put you in a situation you can’t handle. Come as you are!
  • “I don’t know where to go to get involved.” We’ve got you covered. United Way’s website provides a listing of volunteer opportunities in your area. You can reach out to your local United Way to see if anything else is available. You can also reach out to the Student United Way on your campus and if there isn’t one, you can start one!

Most of all, let your friends know that you, your community, and the children in need of readers, tutors and mentors need them to volunteer. It’s going to take all of us working together to meet our bold goals for the future, and the power of students to make a difference will have a huge role in our success.

So set your school year’s resolution now and recruit your fellow students to join the call to action. For someone out there, it could be the most important resolution you make.


Wendy Dixon-DuBois

Summer Trend May Be Breeding Ground for Cyberbullying

Every year, the rise in temperature brings a new measurement of the hottest trends—the take-off song of the summer, the highest-grossing summer movie, the must-have toy or fashion of the season. Add to that list, the app of the summer.

Sarahah, which means candor or openness in Arabic, is an app that was designed to help users discover their strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from their employees and friends in a private manner. According to Fortune, it’s the app of the summer. But its explosive growth has apparently been driven by teenagers, raising a host of concerns about safety. Despite the developer’s good intentions, users are reporting that the app has become a breeding ground for cyberbullying and hate speech.


Read more here .

Press Release: United Way Statement on Violence in Charlottesville

United Ways in every community denounce racism, bigotry and prejudice in all forms. We all mourn the loss of life in Charlottesville, VA this past week and strongly reject the divisive worldview of groups like the white nationalists and neo-Nazis that incited this violence.

For 130 years, United Way has worked to bring communities together. We know that communities are stronger not when they embrace hatred and distrust, but when they welcome diversity and address difficult problems based on the principles of equal rights and equal opportunity.

Our society will make the most progress when every one of us can contribute and share ideas, and have their basic rights and dignity respected. Now, more than ever, we must embrace ideas that unify us and make us stronger. To live better, we must live United.


Free Lunch at the Library

Children lined up on July 12 for free lunches outside the Marysville Public Library in Marysville, Ohio. Credit Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

MWOOD PLACE, Ohio — Before opening their doors at noon, the librarians squeeze tables and chairs between the book stacks to prepare for the onslaught of hungry children. Usually, two or three dozen show up, but occasionally, up to 70 do.

During the summer, they come to this tiny branch in Elmwood Place, a village in greater Cincinnati, for “Captain Underpants,” air-conditioning and, lately, a hot meal.

One recent Thursday, most of the pint-size patrons signed up for free lunch even before reserving a computer. Older kids, lanky from growth spurts, first beelined for the internet, then wrote their names down to get the day’s meal — macaroni with ground beef — after a gentle reminder from Kevin Collett, a library services assistant.

A woman from a nearby church — the program sponsor — delivered lunch. Librarians assembled each share. Then LeeAnn McNabb, the branch manager, summoned children, one by one, to get cantaloupe slices, an apple, a roll, milk and the warm entree.

“We come Monday through Friday, unless there’s an unforeseeable catastrophe,” said Lorrie Spraggins, 58, who lives nearby with her daughter and grandchildren. “With eight people in this family, and five under 18, it really helps.”

Librarians used to forbid any food or drink to avoid staining books and attracting pests. People who tried to sneak snacks in the stacks would be reprimanded. But in recent years, a growing number of libraries have had a major shift in policy: They are the ones putting food on the table.

Hundreds of libraries are now serving federally funded summer meals to children to ensure that they don’t go hungry. The change is part of an effort to stay relevant to patrons, and to pair nutrition and educational activities so low-income children get summertime learning, too.

Enid Costley, the children’s and youth services consultant for Library of Virginia, summed up the rationale for starting to serve free food: “For kids to be well-read, they need to be well-fed.”


The Marysville Public Library serves free summer meals to children under this pavilion. Participating sites must be in an area where at least 50 percent of students get free or reduced-price meals at school. But any child can be fed. CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

If they are worried about getting their next meal, she said, “It makes it harder to learn. Giving kids books and nutrition is a win-win, all the way around.”

A couple times a week, Taryn Dowdell, 27, sits in a quiet corner of the Elmwood Place library and reads to her children, Tori, 5, and Tayrnce, 3, while they dig in to their free lunches. Tayrnce scooped a heap of pasta into his mouth and said softly, “It’s yummy.”

Ms. Dowdell said her daughter, who will be starting kindergarten this fall, is typically more picky so doesn’t always want to eat at the library. But today they had little choice. “I didn’t have food at home, so we had to come,” she said.

“Libraries see that kids in their communities are hungry,” said Natalie Cole, a library programs consultant for the California State Library. “We are not only providing meals. We are providing learning opportunities and keeping kids reading all summer long.”

After one lunch, Danielle McFarland, the children’s librarian at Elmwood Place, gave out tiny robots called Ozobots, which are designed for the youngsters to program. Another time, she brought in a 3-D printer so they could see how it worked.

Local sponsors like camps, operators of school feeding programs or churches procure food to be prepared, get it delivered to sites like libraries, and handle most of the administrative tasks and paperwork for reimbursement.

The meals are paid for through the United States Department of Agriculture’s summer food service program. In 2016, it funded roughly 50,000 sites nationwide as a way to feed kids who rely on free or reduced meals during the school year. That year, nearly four million children got roughly 179 million meals.

Since the 1970s, the U.S.D.A. has tried to fill the gap by providing meals at sites like camps, parks and Y.M.C.A.s. But transportation can be a barrier for accessing many of these programs, as are the limited number of summer camps and activities for low-income kids, according to a new report called “Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation” by the Food Research & Action Center. In July 2016, summer meals served only one child for every seven low-income children who participate in free and reduced-cost lunch during the school year, the group said.


Jackson Melish, left, and Molly Melish eating lunch at the Marysville Public Library.CreditMaddie McGarvey for The New York Times

“Libraries are an exciting opportunity to increase access,” said Crystal FitzSimons, an author of the report. “There’s a lot of energy around recruiting libraries to provide meals that’s happening at local, state and national levels.”

In interviews, librarians and anti-hunger advocates in CaliforniaOhioVirginia and New York all reported sizable increases in participation after a concerted recruitment effort spread from state to state through webinars, librarian conferences and word of mouth. In 2014, the U.S.D.A. started recommending libraries as potential partners, and has an online tool to connect them to sponsors, said Jalil Isa, a spokesman.

In 2016, public libraries in California provided over 203,000 meals for children at 139 sites, up from just 17 in 2013, said Dr. Cole, who has a doctorate in librarianship.

After the U.S.D.A. push to involve libraries, Hunger Solutions New York, a nonprofit in Albany, reached out to librarians in the state.

New York has more than 115 participating libraries this summer, compared to 36 in 2013, said Misha Marvel, a child nutrition programs specialist at Hunger Solutions New York.

“Libraries are a good fit,” she said. “They are a non-stigmatizing community-accepted resource.”

Put another way, going to a library is inconspicuous in a way that showing up at a food bank isn’t.


Some of the free lunches served to children at the library in Elmwood Place, Ohio. CreditCatherine Saint Louis

To be eligible to serve food, a site must be located in an area where at least 50 percent of students get free or reduced-price meals at school. Census data can also be used to identify areas of eligibility. But any child can be fed, once a summer meals site is up and running.

Elizabeth Elswick, 35, a receptionist at a Y.M.C.A. and a frequent patron of the Marysville Public Library in Ohio, appreciates not having to prove her girls “are worthy of having assistance” before they eat lunch.

Sitting at picnic tables next to the library, Mrs. Elswick and her three daughters were just one of dozens of families who stood in line to get strawberries, carrots, oranges and Bosco Sticks (a lunchroom staple of mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks). “There’s a diversity that prevents free lunches from being stigmatized,” Mrs. Elswick said. “No one asks questions and our kids are fed.”

When Kate McCartney, the youth services manager in Marysville, heard there were no summer meal sites in her county, she wanted to get involved. The program has grown exponentially. In 2015, it served 4,082 meals; this season, with four weeks left, more than 4,000 lunches have been distributed.

One requirement of the summer program is that only kids 18 and under get a free meal, so adults must bring their own food. “Fortunately we haven’t had too many parents seem upset or seem to expect a meal,” Ms. McCartney said. “It’s one of the roles of being a parent. You put your kid ahead of your own needs.”

At a recent lunch, while she tallied meals in the pavilion next to the library, she wore a smile and a “Build a Better World” T-shirt. “It’s making a difference,” she said. “We are definitely getting the message out to more and more people every year.”

In some cases, summer meals are attracting new patrons. “Our summer lunch effort has pushed more people into our libraries,” said Andie Apple, the interim director of libraries for Kern County Libraries in California. “They don’t just come for the meals and leave. They come for meals and stay.”

At Beale Memorial Library in Bakersfield, Calif., in an addition to more than 3,000 meals served last summer, librarians also offered a Lego club, bilingual story time, make-it-yourself slime, and creative time to doodle on paper-covered tables.

Some illustrators left notes for the librarians. “You can’t believe some of the messages,” Ms. Apple said. “It’ll break your heart. They’ll write, ‘Thank you for this meal.’”

No full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a 2-bedroom apartment in any US state

The absolute least that an employer is legally allowed to pay an employee for an hour’s work varies across the country, but one fact remains constant: In no state does working 40 hours a week for minimum wage enable a person to rent a median two-bedroom apartment.

That’s according to new research by the National Low Income Housing Coalition covered by The Washington Post. Across the country, it reports, even full-time workers would have to make about or more than twice as much to afford a typical home.

In states such as Alaska, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Illinois and most of the Northeast, workers would have to make over $20 an hour. Workers in California, D.C. and Hawaii are the hardest hit by the price of housing: They need to earn a whopping $30, $33 or $35 an hour, respectively, to afford a two-bedroom.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Some renters can still find individual apartments that charge less than the median rent and so remain relatively affordable. The trouble is, they are often substandard or unsafe and, regardless, there aren’t nearly enough of those to meet demand. Scarcity has been an issue for decades.

Likewise, not all workers are subject to the federal minimum wage. Some are, as five states, including Mississippi and Louisiana, have no official minimum wage, and two more, Georgia and Wyoming, have a minimum wage of $5.15, or about $10 less an hour than full-time employees would need to make to be able to afford a two-bedroom. In those places, the federal minimum wage applies, with a general exception for workers who receive tips.

By contrast, states such as Connecticut and California mandate that even entry-level workers receive about $10 an hour, while cities and, increasingly, states such as Illinois and New York are phasing in a new minimum wage of $15 an hour. That minimum supersedes the federal one.

The Fight for $15, a worldwide effort to raise wages and strengthen unions, has successfully led to better pay in many places since its launch in 2012, and a proposed federal minimum wage of $15 an hour is now part of the Democratic Party platform. According to these numbers, however, even that wouldn’t make housing affordable.

As things stand, an American making the federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to work 94.5 hours a week, or more than two full-time jobs, to afford a typical two-bedroom rental.

The Post notes that “many of the occupations projected to add the most jobs by 2024 pay too little to cover rent. These are customer service representatives, personal care aides, nursing assistants, home health aides, retail salespeople, home health and food service workers who make, on average, between $10 and $16 an hour. … as a result, more than 11.2 million families end up spending more than half their paychecks on housing,” money they could otherwise direct toward transportation, education, food, clothing or savings.

In a preface to the report, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., writes, “Each year, Congress spends about $200 billion to help house American families. A full three-fourths of these resources go to help subsidize the homes of the richest families through the mortgage interest deduction and other homeownership tax benefits.”

Meanwhile, the report points out, federal funding for housing assistance programs has actually declined by three percent in the last seven years.

Millennials are making a big mistake by not owning a home, says one financial expert

Millennials are making a big mistake by not owning their homes, says one financial expert

Some business owners argue that raising the minimum wage will lead to higher prices for consumers, and some economists argue that it could depress job growth or even end up eliminating positions as it leads to more automation. A comprehensive 2016 study from the National Employment Law Project, however, found that the economists’ fears aren’t justified.

Its authors declare that there is “no correlation between federal minimum-wage increases and lower employment levels, even in the industries that are most impacted by higher minimum wages. To the contrary, in the substantial majority of instances (68 percent) overall employment increased after a federal minimum-wage increase.”

The site of the One Journal Square luxury apartment project stands in Jersey City on May 9, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

And a 2017 poll found that bipartisan majorities of Americans now favor raising the minimum wage.

Connecting Employees to Community Service Opportunities is a Win All Around


Did you know that millennials will be 50 percent of the workforce by 2020?  Or that 88 percent of millennials feel their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact on social or environmental issues?

These facts helped set the scene during United Way’s recent annual forum with corporate and foundation leaders to discuss how together we can support employees who want to feel ‘engaged’ at work and in the community.

And it’s not just millennials who want to give back.  A 2016 survey by Cone Communications found that 74 percent of employees find their work fulfilling when provided with opportunities to help their communities.  What’s more, 55 percent would choose to work for a socially responsible company, even if the salary is less!  For millennials, that figure is even higher.

These employees want to see purpose in what they do, and as part of their engagement they might volunteer their time, donate money, or advocate on issues important to them.

Businesses benefit, too.  In an increasingly competitive labor market, companies are pursuing effective employee engagement strategies to improve worker recruitment and retention, increase productivity and further engage targeted communities or demographics.

At this year’s forum, company representatives made it clear that the war for talent is driving the need for engagement options among all employees, but particularly millennials.  Younger workers want to contribute, and do so with their friends in an easy, digitally-connected, and impactful way.

United Way and ExxonMobil made a joint presentation showing how we worked together to increase millennial engagement in Houston.  ExxonMobil, a 65-year partner with United Way, had been experiencing low participation from its early career professionals.

To change that, the company used improved marketing and mentoring to reach out to their young professionals, but they also teamed up with United Way’s LINC initiative.  LINC (Lead, Impact, Network, Change) specifically works to engage millennials and turn them into lifelong contributors and young leaders.

The result for ExxonMobil was an increase in campaign participation, gifts and volunteer hours.

Another take away is that employees are increasingly inspired by issues rather than institutions.  This is an important insight for United Way.  Fortunately, while our work in education, income and health isn’t changing, by focusing on VeteransJobsRefugees, and Human Trafficking, our role and influence in society remains as timely and relevant as ever.

We are also heavily involved with Salesforce to create a digital employee engagement platform that will allow workers to create online profiles and find issues that motivate them.  The goal is to empower employees and make it easy for them to connect with each other – and friends – and make a difference.

Moving forward, we invite companies and organizations of all sizes to partner with us so we can learn from one another.  We may not have all of the answers right away, but the networking and sharing of promising practices could lead to valuable partnerships down the road.

Press Release: Press Release United Way Forsyth County Kicks Off School Supplies Collection Event

United Way is partnering with several non-profits in the Winston-Salem Forsyth County community to help students kick off the 2017-2018 school year as prepared as possible.

Currently there are approximately 54,762 students enrolled in WSFC Schools and 57% of those students are free/reduced lunch recipients.

United Way Forsyth County Director of Engagement, Amanda Rosemann notes, “For many parents, purchasing school supplies is a daunting task especially when you’re struggling to find money to pay for a meal. We’re hoping that by collecting much needed school supplies, we can give our students a good start to the school year and ease some of the financial burden parents are facing”.

United Way Forsyth County will be collecting school supplies starting August 7th-14th. Items will be distributed to Philo-Hill, Ashley, Kimberly Park, Easton, North Hills, Middle Fork the week of August 14th and counselors will distribute items to students at Open House and the first day of school. The community is invited to participate and items may be dropped off at the United Way office at 301 N. Main Street, Suite 1700 – Winston Salem, NC 27101.

UWFC is working to provide 1 backpack with each of the following school supplies for as many students as possible. Below is the student breakdown for each school, along with a desired school supply list:

  • 1 box of washable markers OR 1 pack of colored pencils
  • 4 dry erase markers
  • 4 highlighters (different colors)
  • 2 packs of pencils
  • 1 hand-held pencil sharpener
  • 1 pack of pens (blue or black, not red)
  • 1 pencil pouch with zipper
  • 10 glue sticks
  • 6 Wide-ruled composition books
  • 6 Solid-colored pocket folders
  • 4 3-ring binders
  • 3 packs loose leaf paper
  • 1 pack graph paper
  • 1 pack 3×5 index cards
  • 1 set ear buds
  • 2 boxes of tissues
  • 1 hand sanitizer                                                                     # # #



United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

The Diaper Dilemma

Infants use about 240 diapers per month. A year’s supply of diapers costs $936. That means a single mother mother working full time at the minimum wage can expect to spend 6 percent of her annual pay on Pampers alone.

Meanwhile, the two biggest programs that assist low-income mothers, SNAP (food stamps) and WIC, don’t cover diapers or baby wipes.

That might be why, in a study of 877 pregnant and parenting women published in Pediatrics in 2013, a team of researchers found that needing diapers and not being able to buy them was a leading cause of mental health problems among new moms.

Read more here .