LIVING UNITED Advancing the Common Good: Creating Opportunities for a Better Life for All
United Way is focused on education and stability, while also supporting our most vulnerable. We advance the common good by making sustained positive changes in peoples' lives. These success stories are just a few of the results from such changes, made possible by services provided through United Way-funded programs and community partners.
How Nan and Suzan Live United Nan and Suzan are passionate about education and keeping kids healthy. Although they are from different backgrounds, their common goals unite them as community advocates and volunteers. That's especially true if the topic is Nourishing Children, a nonprofit that provides snack packs every Friday during the school year to more than 1,000 free and reduced meal students public schools, which keeps them from going hungry on the weekends.. Nan started the nonprofit because, as a former pediatric nurse, she knew how adversely hunger was affecting growing children's minds and bodies. Suzan, a Shaw employee and education advocate, became involved through their church. However, as a United Way volunteer and chair of the Chamber's Education committee, she knows that hungry students can't learn and are less likely to finish school. So now they work together to keep students healthy and on the road to education success.
How Jeff and Diane Live United Jeff and Diane may come from different backgrounds, but they are united in their mission to advance the common good in the East Lake community.
Diane Jarvis is a 2-1-1 call manager with United Way of Greater Chattanooga. She comes to the Tabernacle of Faith Church of God in Christ once a month as part of 2-1-1's "On the Ground" community outreach program. Diane is working to bring information and services to communities where they live and where the services are needed. She meets with local residents, not only to provide them with information or to refer them to assistive programs, but to listen to them tell her what services they want in their neighborhoods and what their aspirations for their communities are.
Jeff Seay is an assistant pastor at the Tabernacle of Faith Church of God in Christ, located in East Lake on 27th. Jeff got a good education and has a good job, but he knows that isn't true for most in that neighborhood. As a pastor he feels a responsibility to help his community, and he felt a partnership with United Way's 2-1-1 is the best way to do that. 2-1-1 can connect people with services the church can't provide, but the church is a perfect conduit and environment to bring residents in to receive assistance.
Jeff and Diane both want people living in East Lake to have the building blocks of a good life - an education, financial stability and support services when they are needed - which creates a stronger and healthier community for everyone.
How Coach and Tay Live United Tay Jones recently graduated college with a degree in exercise sciences. He's continuing in college while he works so he can earn a Masters in Education. He has a good job, a place to live, and he volunteers at the YCAP. But things weren't always that way.
At one point, Tay was homeless, in danger of dropping out of school, estranged from his family, and in trouble with the law. That's when Coach Joe Smith and YCAP came into Tay's life.
Coach Smith and the boxing program helped Tay start to get his life back on track. Tay was given a place to stay and he started participating in the boxing program. It taught him discipline, self-respect, and it helped him channel his self-destructive energies in a positive manner.
He graduated high school and with the program's support, he went onto college to earn a degree in exercise science. Because of his new found love of boxing - both as a volunteer at the gym helping to teach the other boys and as an amateur competitor - Tay wanted to do something to stay in sports. It took Tay a little while to earn his degree - school still doesn't come easy - but now he's going back to prepare for his MCAT so he can earn a Master's in Education. Tay knows it will be a long path and the work won't be easy, but thanks to Coach Smith and YCAP, he has the discipline and the character to see it through.
Coach Smith is proud of Tay - he's proud of all his boys as he calls them. He doesn't believe in bad kids, just kids who get a bad start in life. That's how YCAP started, to help inner city kids overcome the call of the streets. It began with the discipline of boxing, which proved to be a great way to help the boys and girls work out their issues and get in shape while learning character skills too. At the same time, Coach was treating them like a family - dinner together every evening, homework time, report card reviews, and parent-teacher conferences.
But YCAP is branching out. They've now added woodworking (Coach says it's great for teaching math, safety, attention to detail, and fine motor skills) and organic gardening (its part of a new, green industry in our region, plus it teaches patience, attentiveness, healthy eating and cooking skills, and generosity - part of the harvest is donated to Orange Grove residents).
Coach Smith believes it's the work and focus of an organization like United Way that helps him and kids like Tay come together to build a stronger and healthier community, one kid at a time.
How Solomon Lives United Solomon is a mentor and program director for the YMCA and the Hamilton County Department of Education. He works with kids on the Westside through a United Way-funded mentoring program. Solomon is working to keep kids off the street and give them a safe place to play and learn at the Sheila Jennings/Westside recreation center. At 6'3" the kids look up to Solomon, which is important to his success as a mentor when he tells them to stay in school and away from gangs. He also provides the kids with sports activities, access to computers, free lunches and learning opportunites thanks to a partnership between United Way, the Y, Chattanooga Parks and Rec, and the Chattanooga Housing Authority. Solomon doesn't just wear the shirt, He Lives It!
How Chris Brown Lives United Chris Brown Lives United by helping teens stay in high school to graduate on time. Chris knows how hard high school can be - he was a good student, but he goofed off his freshman year and missed some of his credits. So he spent the next three years trying to catch up while also working part time. Chris was able to graduate, but he doesn't want other kids to go through what he did. So Chris wrote a grant to create and fund a peer mentoring program to help ninth graders transition into their first year of high school and graduate on time. Now that Chris is working his way through college while working for the Dept. of Family & Youth Development, he's still mentoring kids at work, through his church, and at his other volunteer activities. That's because Chris doesn't just wear the shirt, he Lives It.
How Chris Hill Lives United Chris Hill Lives United by helping people study for and earn their GED. Chris used the services of Northside Neighborhood House to earn his GED and get into college classes at Chattanooga State Technical Community College. His goal is to become an accountant. However, despite working a full-time job at night and going to college part-time during the day, Chris still volunteers 9 to 12 hours per week at the Northside Neighborhood House. He knew how hard it was to take that first step and work through the GED process, so now he helps other adults students prepare for the GED exam and work their way through the process. Because he had taken that journey, he knew he could help other candidates in a way no one else could. By volunteering, Chris is improving GED students' job prospects so they can build a more economically stable life for themselves and their families. That's because Chris doesn't just wear the shirt, he lives it!
How Raquel Lives United! Raquel first began working with United Way as an intern in the Building Stable Lives and 2-1-1 areas. She saw first-hand the work United Way does to help people in low income communities build a better life for themselves and their families. So she decided to work for a United Way partner program in East Lake to coordinate United Way’s Building Stable Lives pilot project in that community. Raquel works to increase people’s incomes, get free books for children, help families save money, find health care or child care assistance, and even help people get their GEDs so they can find stable employment. Raquel Lives United by going out into the community, getting involved and doing something when she sees a problem. Because Raquel doesn’t just wear the shirt, she Lives It!
How Keith Lives United Keith is a United Way donor who believes kids need direction to stay on the right track. So he volunteered his time to start a youth baseball league to keep teenage boys focused and productive. Now, each year, he volunteers his time to recruit other men from the community to work with the teams and he recruits sponsors to fund supplies, uniforms and trips for the kids. Then he spends his time mentoring these boys, not only by teaching them about baseball, but by teaching them about discipline, respect, and how to study. He even takes them on college tours to talk about graduating high school so they can go onto college. Keith wants kids from the community to have a chance at a better life, just like he did. SoKeith doesn't just wear the shirt, He Lives It!
How Lee Anderson Lives United Lee Anderson is a dedicated supporter of United Way. He began giving when United Way was the Community Chest and he was in first grade. He continued giving after he began working at the Free Press, through the war, as the 1979 Campaign Chairman and into the present. Lee believes giving to United Way gives him the opportunity to make life a little bit better for somebody else. He doesn’t think of it as helping the down and out, but investing in the up and coming. His mom taught him to give to United Way in 1931. And through 14 presidents and 6 wars, he’s kept giving ever since. Because Lee doesn’t just wear the shirt, he lives it!
How Alex Lives United Alexandra Santiago is the marketing director at SunTrust’s Chattanooga office, but she’s from a close-knit community in Tampa where everyone watches out for each other. She wants to be involved in Chattanooga and meet new people, but she also wants to be part of something that reaches out into the larger community to help others. She decided volunteering with United Way is the perfect way to do both – build a stronger community while building new friendships. One volunteer project Alex is excited about is helping with SunTrust’s United Way campaign.
“It doesn’t hurt that it’s so easy to give at work, and I can feel good that 100 percent of my donation goes directly into community programs,” says Alex. “SunTrust’s relationship with United Way is important too. As a member of the banking industry, we want to see people be financially independent – it’s good for the community when everyone can give back.” Volunteering and giving back – that’s how Alex Lives United. When we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s how you Live Untied.
How Brian Lives United Brian Smith, former meteorologist at WDEF TV 12, wants to make this community a better place to live. So he mentors young adults to help them make good choices. Since he loves science and the great outdoors, he decided to volunteer in ways that let him put his interests and expertise to work. So he’s a Big Brother and a Venture Crew leader – the kids have a lot of fun and he shows them all the options they can take advantage of as they grow up. Thanks to his mentoring, these kids have a better chance of making good choices that will make their lives better – like staying away from violence and drugs and choosing a college education instead. Brian is Living United by volunteering to make a difference in kids’ lives. Because Brian doesn’t just wear the shirt, he lives it!
How Sarah Lives United Dr. Sarah Sandefur, a nationally recognized early childhood education expert at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is on a mission. Her mission is to get parents to spend more time talking, reading and playing with their children so they can begin developing the language skills their children need to succeed by age three. When parents are engaged and interacting with their children, they have a much better chance of starting school ready to learn and with the skills they need to succeed. And if parents can’t purchase books and materials on their own, Sarah wants to know that there is someplace they can get them for free. Children’s welfare and early education are the things Sarah is passionate about, because she knows they are part of the foundation of a good life for our communities. That’s why she works as a United Way advocate and consultant on its literacy and early education projects. Every time she looks at the children she helps, she sees lives being changed for the better both now and in the future. When we reach a hand out to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s how you Live United.
How Carol Lives United Carol O'Neal is the Administrative Clerk for the Chattanooga City Council. She cares about this community, but it’s difficult for her to get involved and volunteer when she’s at work all day. So she works to make a difference by leading the United Way campaign at the City of Chattanooga offices. She talks to her coworkers about United Way’s work and encourages them to give – she also tries to make it as easy as possible for employees to make a donation. She has fun and runs a lot of special activities, but she’s raising money too. It also makes her feel good to know that one hundred percent of her donation goes to help people in the community, and she’s been giving to United Way for more than 25 years. She’s Living United by making the community a better place for everyone. Because Carol doesn’t just wear the shirt, she I lives it.
How Marcia Lives United Marcia Kling credits her parents for teaching and demonstrating to her the importance of concern for one's neighbors. She was always included in activities with her parents, especially her mother, who was always involved in one fund-raising effort or another. So at an early age she was asking perfect strangers to support efforts to improve communities!
When she came to Chattanooga in the early 1960s, she began giving to United Way through NewsChannel 9’s workplace campaign, and she hasn’t stopped since.
She also became involved in early childhood education, hosting Fun Time, one of the first educational TV shows aimed at preschool children. Thanks to her father, a school principal, education has always been important to her and she’s always known how important it is to start educating children when they are very young. That’s why Marcia Lives United by giving and by advocating for early childhood education. When we reach a hand out to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s how you Live United.
How Romeatrius Lives United! Romeatrius is a pediatric nurse in the United States Air Force. When she sets a goal she reaches it, but it wasn’t always that way. She had behavior problems in middle school. Her mom worked two jobs to support her and her little sister, so she wanted Romeatrius to be in a nurturing environment. Mom made her go to Girls Inc., where they opened her eyes to all she could be. This United Way-supported program taught her to say no to bad influences, to handle roadblocks, and to solve problems through teamwork. She even went on college visits. Her mind was broadened. Thanks to this youth mentoring program, she became focused, graduated with honors and earned a full college scholarship. She then became a registered nurse and joined the Air Force. She wants to give back to her community and help others the way she has been helped. So she volunteers by teaching new parent classes, mentoring local youth, and she also visits Chattanooga and talks to the girls at Girls Inc. She tells them if they make good choices, there’s no limit to what they can do. Giving back - that’s how Romeatrius Lives United. When we reach a hand out to one, we influence the condition of all. That’s how you Live United.
How James Lives United When James Kwee was in high school, he was committed to giving back to the community. He volunteered at a United Way partner agency that helps homeless children – it is one of just four organizations he volunteered with. He also started and ran the philanthropy club at his school, as well as his his own fledgling nonprofit organization, “Cheerful Givers.” This program provides gift bags full of toys to low income families so parents can still give their children a birthday gift. Even though he was the one who was giving, he felt he got more out of it than they did. According to James, he’ll give to United Way when he’s older, but as a student he feels that since he has the time and energy, volunteering works for him and it’s a great way to get involved in the community. Even as a college student in New York, he still volunteers with early childhood education. “If you see a problem or a condition you don’t like, you should take action and do something about it,” says James. “Volunteering helps advance the common good in our communities to make them stronger and healthier – and it’ll make you feel good too.” James doesn't just wear the shirt, He Lives It!
How David Lives United David started giving to United Way early in his professional career, because he was raised in a family that valued charity and stewardship. He believed it was just, “the right thing to do.” However, little did he know that one day he would need the services of a United Way supported program. David went through a divorce and found that the YMCA became his moral support system. It provided him with great alternatives to less healthy pastimes. The Y’s Indian Princess program also helped him stay connected to his two young daughters during a difficult time. We all benefit when we give to advance the common good – sometimes in unexpected ways. David doesn't just wear the shirt, He Lives It!