Good News Network April 2018

Embracing Diversity, Changing the World
We want to thank everyone for making the 8th Annual Family Support Conference a success! Each year, First Things First, Strong Families Arizona and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona facilitate the event. It provides professional development, information and resources to home visitors, family support specialists, parenting educators, child welfare workers, court appointed special advocates, school district employees and other professionals working with families with children ages 0-5. More than 350 people attended at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and Spa. This year's theme was "Embracing Diversity, Changing the World."  The event included 3 sessions of interactive workshops and 2 keynote speakers: Sherard Robbins from the University of Arizona and Peggy O'Neil, a motivational speaker and "little person" (standing at 3 feet 8 inches) tall. Click here to learn more about Family Support. 
Join us for VITA's Filing Finale

Tax season is coming to an end! If you haven't filed yet, grab your W-2s and mark your calendar. United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Filing Finale is happening Tuesday, April 17th, the last day to file your 2017 income taxes. It's happening at United Way (330 N Commerce Park Loop #200)  from 10 a.m. to midnight. Make sure to be there by 10 p.m. to have your taxes prepared. Last year's finale filing event served 103 taxpayers and generated $87,038 in tax refunds alone. Of that $37,454 came from the Earned Income Tax Credit. The VITA program offers free, quality tax preparation from IRS-certified preparers to individuals and families earning up to $66,000 annually. Click here to learn more about our VITA services.
Young Leaders Give Gift of Communication

When it comes to paying it forward,  United Way's Young Leaders Society (YLS)  is phoning it in. YLS is helping to put two United Youth Leadership Council members on their pathway to success by providing them with smartphone service for the next year.  The goal is to make it easier for the youth to connect to the Re-Engagement Center (REC) pathway coaches and other youth council members, as well as access online job applications or websites and other valuable resources.  Funds supporting the smartphone service were raised through  YLS  events like YLS Bus Tours. Learn more about YLS and the group's events by clicking here. 
Helping Youth Thrive in Southern Arizona
As thousands of Southern Arizona students prepare for graduation, United Way of Tucson is helping them prepare for life after high school.  United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, in partnership with the Community Schools Initiative, Higher Ground, and AmeriCorps helps connect families to human service resources in the community, provides VITA tax preparation services to students and families, and assists students in completing financial aid applications. Last year, more than 100 students received assistance with their financial aid applications, tax preparation or applications for health insurance and food assistance.
Veterans Serving Veterans

Every year, Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans rents out large sections of a local hotel to host their annual StandDown, which gives veterans experiencing homelessness a respite from life on the street. During a three day stay, participants are connected with key services and assistance benefits to help them on their path to housing and financial stability.  Several public and private partners attended the StandDown to support veterans in need, and as in years past, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona was able to support the Stand Down's operations thanks to the generous benefactors of Operation United.
United Way Volunteer Support 
Members of the University of Arizona Physiology Club donated their time and energy to the Stand Down by assembling 150 hygiene supply kits containing sanitizer, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen and other items. Funds for the items themselves were purchased with additional support from Operation United, which allowed the students to support StandDown at no personal expense!
Serve Veterans in Need!
In addition to the annual StandDown, Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans hosts a resource fair every summer. This year's resource fair will take place in June. If you'd like to volunteer, contact Rachel Cheeseman. If you'd like to support the StandDown and other projects serving local veterans, contact Jeff Petrovic  and ask how you can support Operation United. 
14th Annual Circle of Excellence Luncheon

Planning is underway for one of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona's biggest events. Each year, we celebrate and recognize our partners and champions who help us build a thriving community. The  Circle of Excellence Luncheon is happening Thursday, May 17th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Starr Pass Resort and Spa.   The highest honor we award is the Michael J. Harris Spirit of Tucson Award. It goes to the company demonstrating excellence in corporate involvement and community leadership. (Last year's winner, IBM, pictured above.  The application deadline is Friday, April 20, 2018. Click here to apply. Learn more about the Circle of Excellence Luncheon by clicking here
 People Profile: Meet Pattie Montijo

  Here at United Way, we know that education is imperative to a thriving community.That's why we support programs like My Summer Library (MSL). It's a program of Read On Tucson.  MSL helps to promote the mitigation of summer learning loss by offering kindergarten and 1st graders, in identified schools in low socio-economic areas, 12 books free of charge, to start or expand their home libraries. The books are provided by UWTSA and Scholastic Books, and paid for by local donations and grant funds. 
This month, we'd like to introduce you to the coordinator of MSL, Pattie Montijo.  She was  born and raised in Tucson where she graduated from Pueblo High School on the city's south side. She's been married for 35 years to her husband Robert. They have two children and an adorable 14-month-old grandson. Pattie started working at United Way back in 2009 as a client advocate but quickly found her niche in early education. Here's more about Pattie's work with My Summer Library:
Tell me about your role with My Summer Library. 
My role with MSL is to coordinate with participating school administrators and Scholastic to schedule book fairs at school sites and to provide logistical support. I also recruit and schedule volunteers to ensure that events are fully staffed.

What do you want people to know about My Summer Library?
Research indicates that third grade marks a significant turning point when children transition from learning to read to reading to learn. By third grade, children encounter more demanding texts and basic literacy becomes a requirement for learning across all subjects. Children who do not read at grade level often falter in later grades and drop out before completing high school. My Summer Library is researched-based and sustainable. Now in its seventh year, MSL directly addresses the detrimental effects of the summer learning gap by ameliorating summer learning loss, lessening the learning gap between children from underserved families and their more affluent peers, and by fostering a culture and love of reading, especially in the home. Children in kindergarten and first grade select twelve books each to keep and read over the summer.   Since 2011, through generous support from our funders, MSL has provided more than 68,000 books to underprivileged children in our neediest schools for summer reading and to build their home libraries.
What do you love most about what you do? 
The absolute most rewarding part of my work with MSL is making a difference in the lives of these children. For most of the children that we serve through this project, these books are the only books that they will receive to keep as their own. It is truly a humbling experience to see the sheer joy and excitement on a child's face as they select their books and then realize that these books are free and theirs to keep. Click here to learn more about Read On Tucson and My Summer Library. 
Thanks for reading

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