Good News Network December 2017

Thanks for a Great Year!

As we enter into a new year, we want to take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights of 2017. United, we gave out our first Literacy Champion Award at the Business Leaders for Early Education Breakfast and gave books to 86,088 families with tips for reading to their child to promote early literacy skills. United, we revamped The Re-engagement Center and engaged 10,355 youth in quality after-school programs. United, we launched the End of Life Care Partnership website and enabled 11,409 seniors to remain at home and retire and age with dignity. United, we expanded our VITA program to serve more individuals and families and prepared 14,606 income tax returns across 10 Arizona counties. United, we partnered with KOLD News 13 for the first time and we hit a new record during United Way's 18th Annual Days of Caring with 4,108 volunteers turning out to help our community thrive! United, we touched the lives of more than 100,000 people right here in Southern Arizona. On behalf of every one of them, thank you. None of this would be possible without your support. UNITED WE ALL WIN.
Let's Make 2018 Even Better!

While we close out 2017 with so many successes, much like many of you, we have a resolution to improve as we approach 100 years of service here in Southern Arizona. We're expanding the My Summer Library program to more schools so more children have access to books year-round. We increased our VITA maximum income amount again this year so even more families can take advantage of the free service and become more financially stable. We've joined forces with Goodwill so we can help more youth get re-engaged in school and find local jobs to ensure their future and the future of Southern Arizona. We're increasing awareness of our End of Life Care Partnership to help more seniors remain in their homes and get them more involved with the community. That is why we ask that you make a resolution to join us as we work to help Southern Arizona thrive in 2018 and beyond. Click here to learn what you can do.
New Year, New Leadership

United Way of Tucson is excited to start 2018 with four new Governing Board Members. They include (from left) Dr. Robert Robbins, P resident of the University of Arizona, Jean Savage, Vice President of Surface Mining and Technology at Caterpillar Inc., Catherine Ries, Vice President of Customer and Human Resources at Tucson Electric Power and Paul Stapleton-Smith, Chair of the Pima Area Labor Federation.   "Our new board members are bringing to our United Way not only their principled  leadership , but a passion for service and the same uniting spirit that has woven its way through everything we've done in this community for nearly a century," said Tony Penn, president and CEO of the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. "This United Way, and the many constituencies with whom we partner to build a thriving community, will benefit greatly from their service," he continued, "and that reaffirms our creed that united we all win." Click here to learn more about the incredible men and women who make up our Board of Directors. 
VITA Can Help You Keep Your Resolutions

If saving money is on your to-do list this year, we've got just the thing to help you meet that goal:   United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. If you made $66,000 or less last year, VITA can improve your life by eliminating filing fees. You can get your taxes done for FREE! VITA volunteers will also help you get the absolute most out ot your refund, ensuring you receive all the credits you're eligible for so you can start the new year by paying off bills, buying something you need or by planning a family vacation. Whatever you need money for, VITA volunteers have your best interest in mind as they navigate the tax code. If you make over the income limit, consider becoming a VITA volunteer and help others put money back into the local economy. You'll be helping your neighbors and yourself as you start the new year by knowing you made a real difference. Click here to learn more about VITA and be sure to share with your friends and neighbors who could benefit from the FREE tax service. 
People profile: Meet Rae Pilarski

M any of us only think about taxes during this time of year, the dreaded tax season. Rae Pilarski focuses her attention on them all year long. She's our Director of Financial Stability Programs and Services for United Way of Tucson. Much of her job is running the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. She's called Tucson home for most of her life, capping off her adolescence at the University of Arizona. After college, Rae spent seven years in the Home and Community Based services field where she coordinated services for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. Here at United Way, she's known for her  intellect, drive and passion to help others, along with her incredible sense of humor. She's inspiring us daily and helping so many people in the process. Here's a little more about Rae and her work with VITA.

What brought you to United Way?

I was looking for an opportunity to throw my energy and effort into strategies addressing large-scale, local issues. What I got on top of that was a chance to learn each and every day, freedom to experiment and innovate, and support from an equally passionate team.

What is your favorite part of the VITA program? 

Besides the mammoth impact it has on individuals, families, and the local economy, my favorite part about VITA is seeing a group of caring and dedicated community members coalesce each year to ensure that filing taxes -which can be intimidating and scary for many filers- becomes a more positive, even life-changing experience for fellow Southern Arizonans.

Do you have any quick stories that you want to share about your work with VITA? 

This one isn't especially quick but has always stuck with me: I once met with a man who had, due to various factors, lost his apartment and was sleeping on the couches of friends and family while he saved some money. He had recently landed a new job and, anticipating the need to file a return the following year, wanted to "get right with the IRS." He came to VITA for help filing returns for the past three years, which he'd previously put off for fear of owing money. Once his returns were finished, we discovered that he was actually due a modest refund for each year. Combined, it was enough for a security deposit on a new apartment. What's great is that this experience is not unique; everyone involved in VITA witnesses its significance in the lives of those it serves at one point or another.

Anything else you'd like people to know?

VITA is a community program in every sense and, as such, is dependent on community participation for its success. I'd encourage anyone who is interested in spreading the word or volunteering to contact us for more information. They can visit  or reach out to me directly at  [email protected].
The Giving Season Isn't Over

Even though we're in a new calendar year, you still have time to benefit from your donation to United Way with the  AZ Charitable Tax Credit. When you target your donation to Helping the Working Poor, you can get a dollar-for-dollar credit on your Arizona State Income Tax Return, up to $400 for an individual and $800 if filing jointly. You have until  April 17, 2018 or the date you file your 2017  tax return to make a  credit-eligible contribution.  Funds raised provide job-skill training, affordable child care, educational opportunities, emergency services and more to the working poor in our community. United Way will make the absolute most out of your donation. Because of United Way's partnerships, grant funding and community support, we are able to turn a $1 donation into a $5 impact!  Click here to donate today. 
Resolve to Make a Difference

If your New Year's resolutions involve helping others, making new friends, or simply getting more involved with your community, United Way has the perfect opportunity. Join one of our Affinity Groups. Each have a unique focus, criteria and events throughout the year, but all of them are helping Southern Arizona thrive. 

United Way Women United
Focus:  Early Education & Childhood Literacy
Impact: Book fairs, volunteer reading events, book drives, volunteer projects & fundraising events including the Business Leaders for Early Education Breakfast
Click here to learn more or to get involved

Young Leaders Society (YLS)
Focus: O pportunity youth ages 16-24 who have dropped out of high school and are not working.
Impact:  Clothing drives, employment workshops, mentoring & volunt eer projects
Click here to learn more or to get involved

United Way's Tocqueville Society
Focus: Education, Financial Stability & Healthy Communities
Impact: Expanding United Way's mission through philanthropic leadership, fundraising events and volunteer projects
Click here to learn more or to get involved
Last Call: Nominate a Literacy Champion

We are gearing up for the 13th Annual Business Leaders for Early Education Breakfast happening February 27, 2018 from 7am to 9am at the Tucson Convention Center. If you know a teacher or educator making strides in literacy improvement in local children, we want to hear from you. It will be presented to an early childhood educator teaching students in preschool through third grade.  Nominations for the awards are now open. Submissions must be received by 5:00 p.m. on January 12th, 2018 for consideration.  Click here to fill out the application. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Learn more by clicking here

United Way of Tucson would like to thank everyone who took part in making RAAVOLUTION  a success last month before the Arizona Bowl.  Thanks to the Ready4 America Alliance (RAA Productions) teaming up with NOVA Home Loans, thousands of locals were exposed to hundreds of nonprofits working to make Southern Arizona thrive.  Click here to learn more about RAA Productions.
Thanks for reading

If there are stories that you enjoyed or would like more information on, let us know. Also, if there are topics that we are not covering in our newsletter that you would like to see, please let us know!

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