Good News Network February 2018

Share Your Love of Reading

February is a time when many people share their love and here in Tucson and Southern Arizona, we share our love of reading! Love of Reading Week (2/12 - 2/16)  is a time when teachers, caregivers, librarians and volunteers in our community take time out to read to children in hopes of inspiring literacy and a lifelong love of books. Studies show reading to children helps them become better speakers, readers, listeners and cultivates empathy. It also encourages children to read themselves. This effort is more important than ever as 60% of children are not reading at grade level by third grade in  Pima County Education experts have determined that reading at grade level by third grade is a crucial benchmark for success in school and in life. That's because after third grade, teaching shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. Early literacy is an important initiative at United Way. Last year the My Summer Library program gave out 86,088 books to children throughout Southern Arizona. Join us for Love of Reading Week and share one of the most important skills in building a thriving community.
Here are three ways you can celebrate reading this week and beyond, and inspire the future generation of Southern Arizonans:
1. Read to a child you know
2. Volunteer to read at a local school, childcare center or library
3. Give a book, donation or your time to United Way of Tucson

Click here to learn what else we're doing and how you can get involved with this essential endeavor. 
Bringing Health Services to our Neighborhoods

  United Way's ELDER Alliance was proud to announce the visit of  a mobile health clinic to the Barrio Kroeger Lane Neighborhood last month. The program, "Juntos Por la Salud" (Together For Health) mobile unit is a program of the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. The mobile clinic, run by Public Health and Nursing students, many of whom are bilingual, traditionally visits rural areas. This particular visit to the Barrio Kroeger neighborhood where many older people live aligns with the work of the ELDER Alliance. Many of the residents in the neighborhood have transportation challenges. Bringing the clinic directly to the neighborhoods provides a much needed service for our aging population. The aim of the mobile clinic is to provide free health promotion and prevention services, particularly to communities where a large number of people lack transportation resources, are uninsured or underinsured. The United Way ELDER Alliance is a change network that supports a strong system of services for the increasing numbers of older adults in Pima County, to enable them to stay healthy, active and have quality of life through the aging process. Click here to learn more.
The Future of Charitable Giving

Tony PEnn While many nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations toward the end of the year and through the tax season, there has been much talk of a possible decline in charitable giving. The new federal tax law increases the standard deduction for individuals and married couples for the 2018 tax year. That has many nonprofits worried that taxpayers won't itemize their deductions and will lose that incentive to give to charity. But that may not be the case.  "I am convinced, both by facts and by what I have seen in my career, that the vast majority of our fellow citizens give not because it will benefit them personally through tax deductions or in other ways, but because they truly care and want to contribute to building a better community, not only for their families, but for people they may never even meet or interact with," said Tony Penn, President and CEO of United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.  "It is this spirit of caring and giving - both of financial resources and time - that makes Americans overall, the most generous people on our planet." Click here to read the entire Arizona Daily Star Op-Ed from Tony Penn. 
Get Your Taxes Done for Free Today!

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites are officially open! We have IRS-certified volunteers ready to save you money and get you the highest possible return. If you make $66,000 or less, you do not have to pay to have your taxes done. United Way's VITA program gives you three options. You can get In Person Tax Prep, you can download DIY Self-Prep Software, or you can use our Valet VITA service. Just take your forms to any VITA location, have them scan your forms, then pick up your completed return. It's easy and FREE! No matter which option you choose, you will access all tax credits for which you're eligible - including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC).  Click here for more details. 

In 2017:
  • 14,606 returns completed
  • $23.2 million in federal refunds returned to taxpayers, including
  • $12.1 million in EITC
  • $3.7 million in tax prep fees saved
United Way Focused on Families

Here at United Way, we know that in order to build a thriving community, we need to start early in life. Raising a young child is difficult on its own but many parents are doing it while dealing with poverty, disease, divorce or drug addiction. Those are just some of the issues parents helped by our Family Support program face.  Family Support provides funding and oversight to a number of community partners working throughout Pima County who offer in-home parenting education and parenting classes in community settings. When in-home services are provided, certified parenting educators visit families with young children ages birth to five on a regular basis and work with parents to increase their knowledge and skills in positive parenting, child development, health, nutrition, and any other aspects of raising a young child. All these activities are carried out to prevent child abuse and neglect, improve literacy in young children, improve their health and wellbeing, and get them ready for kindergarten. Click here to learn more about Family Support. 
People Profile: Cholpon Rosengren

United Way Family Support Director, Cholpon Rosengren, oversees a coalition of more than 2 dozen agencies that provide services to families with young children. Born and raised in  Kyrgyzstan, Cholpon spent all of her childhood and adolescent years in the former Soviet Republic. She met her husband and the two travelled the world for 13 years before finally settling down in Tucson where they raise two children today. Here's more about Cholpon and her work with United Way:

What do you want people to know about Family Support?  Family support is an important part of early childhood work because it provides valuable resources to parents of young children during the formative years of their lives. The important message our funder, First Things First, always communicates is that 90% of a child's brain develops by the age of 5, and early experiences in these first five years have a significant influence on children's future both in school and later in life. If we can give our kids a good head start and give parents the tools and knowledge to be their children's best teachers and raise happy and healthy kids, we will improve outcomes for the entire community. 
What do you love most about what you do? 
The stories that come out of family support work are the reason I love my job. United Way featured a family that was engaged in in-home parenting education in a number of different ways. One of their children (Danitza, pictured above) was born with a serious debilitating health condition, and since infancy, she has spent a lot of time in hospitals undergoing multiple surgeries and in therapy trying to recover from the effects of her condition. Regardless of her physical condition, this child is the most resilient and happiest human being I have ever met. She has a smile that lights up the entire room. She graduated from one of our home visiting programs last summer and was ready to go into kindergarten. However, a few weeks before school started, she fell and broke both of her arms, and even though she was going into surgery shortly after her first day of school, it looked like she was the happiest child at her school. I'll never forget the photo I saw of her with casts covering both of her arms and the biggest smile on her face on the  first day in kindergarten. Stories like this make my work rewarding and keep me motivated. Click here  to learn more about the Parents as Teachers program.
What do you love most about Southern Arizona? 
I love the people living in this community. Having lived in Central Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Southeast Asia, l was fortunate to meet many wonderful people, but the Tucson community and the people I work with are particularly special and dear to me. 
Free Help is Here: Mark Your Calendars!

Hosted by United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona and sponsored by Intuit, qualified taxpayers are  invited to file their taxes for free using TurboTax Freedom edition with the help of IRS-certified tax preparers  and Turbo Tax experts.  If you earn less than $33,000 per year, mark your calendars for this. Intuit Tax Assistance Day is February 25th from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Spanish language interpreters will be provided by Chicanos por la Causa. Don't miss this valuable opportunity to get your taxes done for free with in-person help from experts. Click here for details.

Intuit Tax Assistance Day Qualifications
Earn up to $33,000 annually
Active duty military earning up $66,000
Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Save the Date: United Way's 19th Annual Days of Caring

Southern Arizonans proved they truly cared about our future, by setting a new volunteer record for the 18th Annual Days of Caring. More than 4,100 volunteers took on 121 projects throughout Southern Arizona last year. Now, we're ready to beat that record! Please plan to join us for the 19th Annual Days of Caring Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20, 2018. Sponsorship opportunities are available now. Don't miss this chance to show your commitment to improving our community and inspire teamwork within your company or organization. Click here for more information. 
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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