SWEETWATER COUNTY — United Way of Southwest Wyoming (UWSW) hosted their 37th Annual Celebration Event; Great Things Happen When We Live United, at the Holiday Inn of Rock Springs on April 8th to celebrate 2015 donors and volunteers.
The evening began with Kelly Frink, Executive Co-Director of UWSW announcing that $1,409,196.84 was donated during the 2015 employee giving campaign. UWSW raised funds for their education, health, and basic needs. Over the past year, United Way has invested $1,855,582.67 in southwest Wyoming communities through the campaign, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, FamilyWize, and Community Diaper Bank.
Great Things Happen
Board president, Anne Marie Covey, focused her speech on United Way volunteers and programs. “There are a countless number of hours that our volunteers put in each year to serve and make our community a better place to live and raise a family.” Covey continued, “Our community solutions team is 100% volunteer driven. Each county has their own Community Solutions Team. This dynamic group reads each and every grant. The grantee process and selection is tedious. United Way distributes donor dollars through a Request for Proposal process that is highly competitive.”
Covey highlighted the success of the Diaper Bank, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and Life RU Ready? In 2014, 25,654 diapers were distributed, which grew to 40,103 diapers in 2015. “We are on target to distribute 60,000 diapers in 2016.”
Covey explained that Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library provides a new, age-appropriate book every month for the first five years of life for free to children ages 0-5. The program is part of United Way’s education initiative to help children be kindergarten ready.
UWSW has participated in Life RU Ready? program for two years. This life simulation event is designed to help teens explore the consequences of risky behavior in a safe environment. “Through surveys, the students are telling us that they have knowledge of where to find resources and information if needed,” state Covey.
Covey closed by quoting Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Board president, Anne-Marie Covey, thanked the UWSW staff and board of directors and recognized the Student United Way members who were in attendance. “Our campaign theme was Great Things Happen When We Live United. There are a countless number of hours that our volunteers put in each year to serve and make our community a better place to live and raise a family.” Covey continued, “Our community solutions team is 100% volunteer driven. Each county has their own Community Solutions Team. This dynamic group reads each and every grant. The grantee process and selection is tedious. The granting process is highly competitive.”
Covey also highlighted the success of the Diaper Bank and shared that in 2014, 25,654 diapers were distributed and in 2015, a total of 40,103 diapers were distributed. “We are on target to distribute 60,000 diapers in 2016.”
Covey closed by quoting Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Together We Are Great
Kathy Tacke, Executive Co-Director of UWSW, thanked those attending for their accomplishments, showing that GREAT things DO happen when we Live United. “In front of me, I see a room full of really GREAT people. You make it possible to keep families safe and seniors in their own homes. To show youth how to make positive choices and preschoolers the importance of learning to read.” Tacke stated, “We must rely on each other. Because when we collectively utilize our unique knowledge and skills, when we work as a team – there are no challenges, only opportunities.” Tacke concluded by quoting Mother Teresa, “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
Jeanine Cox, Young at Heart Center’s director, along with staff, highlighted the center and the programs that they provide in our community with assistance from United Way grants.
Cox shared how the center serves people from birth to seniors with a wide variety of programs.
Daphne Palmer, a Young at Heart Center staff member, explained the Special Diets Program. The program provides meals made specifically for individuals and then they are delivered to their homes. These meals are doctor order required and include, but are not limited to – cardiac, renal, diabetic, allergy and low sodium based diets. “Our goal is to keep clients healthy and in their homes as long as possible.” Currently, 70 meals are being delivered each week. Meals for outlying areas are delivered frozen weekly.
The Young At Heart Learning Center, with the funds provided through United Way, make it possible for families that would not be able to afford quality childcare the opportunity to place their children in the center. The Learning Center’s director, Rachelle Morris stated that over 500 children have received a quality early education in Sweetwater County with United Way’s help and support. The center also has technology in the classrooms that would not have been available without United Way funding. “The average staff turnover rate nationwide is 30% for childcare facilities, with the help of United Way, the Early Learning Center is able to retain highly qualified staff. Our turnover rate is at 6%, and we have maintained that same rate for the past four years” stated Morris.
A testament to the early learning program, their presentation featured a statement from Sweetwater School District No. 1 board member, Max Mickelson “In my conversations with teachers, they universally praise the quality of early education provided by your center. Teachers are able to identify your students by their social, emotional, and academic readiness for school. Your students are consistently leaders in their classrooms. Thank you for your great work.”
Cox explained that the Good360 Program is assisting qualifying individuals with much-needed repairs to their homes with help from The Home Depot. Items donated by The Home Depot are given to seniors, disabled and low-income families to improve their living conditions. The Center also helps arrange volunteers to help complete these home improvement projects. Cox thanked Solvay for a shed they donated through Helping Hands Day to store donated items for this program.
Gloria Adair, a Young At Heart Center staff member, stated that through the Respite Program overnight respite services, transportation for clients to doctors’ appointments and to the grocery store, and household chores are being provided for the seniors and disabled in our community. These services are provided in collaboration with VIRS Respite Care. “In helping to create lasting changes in our community, we collaborate with other community partners as well as other agencies, programs and businesses” Adair continued. “Our goal is to keep our clients in their homes as long as possible.”
Gary Leslie, Young At Heart Center’s Board President, shared his experience with United Way’s Helping Hands Day. Tata Chemicals employees constructed a much-needed wheelchair ramp at his home. The need for the ramp came quickly and unexpectedly, but the matter was quickly solved. With the help of volunteers and businesses throughout Southwest Wyoming, Helping Hands Day assists seniors, persons with disabilities and agencies with much-needed repairs and cleanup projects.
Tronox received the highest employee giving award, earning them the Triple Diamond Award. In total, Tronox employees and United Steelworkers Local 13214 donated $166,287.31.
Tata Chemicals received the highest corporate giving award, earning them the Triple Diamond Award. In total, Tata Chemicals, its employees and United Steelworkers Local 15320 donated $223,117.92.
UWSW Board of Director member, Kara Beech, Community Solutions Team member, Carl Lembke and Executive Co-Director, Kelly Frink, presented the traveling Spirit I & II and Excellence I & II Awards.
The Spirit Award I is given to the employees with the highest average donation per donor. The Company must employ 50 or more people with a minimum campaign participation level of 50 percent.
With an average gift of $382 per donor and 60 percent participation, the winners of the 2015 Spirit Award are the employees of Wyoming Machinery Company.
The Spirit Award II is given to the employees with the highest average donation per donor. The company must employ a minimum of 10 people, but no more than 49, with a minimum of 50% employee participation.
With an average gift of $131 per donor and 81 percent participation, the winners of the Spirit Award are the employees of the Youth Alternative Home Association.
The Excellence Award is given to the company and employees that have the highest average donation per total employees when combining the corporate gift with the employee gifts. The company must have 50 or more employees with at least 50 percent of the employees participating.
With 72 percent employee, participation and an average total gift of $488 the Excellence Award went to Simplot Phosphates and its employees.
The Excellence Award II is given to the company and employees that have the highest average donation per total employees when combining the corporate gift with the employee gifts. The company must have a minimum of 10 people, but not more than 49 and have at least 50 percent of the employees participating.
With and an average gift of $107 per total employees and 81 percent participation the winners of the Excellence Award was the Youth Alternative Home Association and their employees.
- Kara Beech, United Way of Southwest Wyoming’s Board Vice President presents the Spirit Award I to Carl Lembke and Dallas Latham from Wyoming Machinery.
Attendees participated in a comedy murder mystery, led by two “detectives”, Caleb George and Pat Kiely, from Mission IMPROVable. Clues generated by the audience helped decide who had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the murder of our esteemed Cowboy Joe. After several suspects had been identified and reenactments of possible scenarios were complete a rival mascot was found to be the murder of our beloved mascot.
The evening concluded with the 2015 Can-Am Commander give away. Any person who donated $100 or more directly to UWSW was entered into the drawing. Donors received one entry for every $100 they donated with a bonus entry for each $500 donation. Tim Stephens, Bryce Hamblin, and Todd Lindley were drawn as the three finalists. Each finalist, or their representative, were given a key. Stephen’s key started the Commander.
Picture 1: Kara Beech, United Way of Southwest Wyoming’s Board Vice President, presents the Spirit Award I to Carl Lembke and Dallas Latham from Wyoming Machinery.
Picture 2: Tim and Lyudmila Stephen are the winners of the 2015 Can-Am Commander.