The United Way of Dickinson campaign is in full swing, as the business packets have been distributed and donations are starting to come back.
“We are full steam ahead,” said Nichole De Leon, United Way executive director. “The packets are out, the presentations have begun. We love teaching people what we do because so much has changed. We’re not the United Way we used to be. We have our own programs while we maintain partnerships with other nonprofits.”
This year, United Way is focusing on the number of people it impacts rather than dollars and cents it has collected.
For example in 2017:
* 200 elderly residents were given daily meals and van rides.
* 144 local school-aged children were matched with a mentor.
* 34 children received foster care.
* 60 elderly residents were supported with guardianship services.
* 300 children were provided healthy food to sustain them through the weekend.
* 1,400 local people were took public transit to work, medical appointments and education.
* More than 3,000 elderly were provided meals in their own homes.
* More than 4,000 local parents and families received education and support with raising their family.
The list goes on and on….
United Way is committed to three areas of community support: Health, education and income stability.
“Honestly, I’ve heard that without United Way, most nonprofits would not be able to do what they do,” DeLeon said.
Reasons for service
Several board members spoke about why they support United Way:
Sergio Martinez: “United Way helps other organizations and it has its own programs. I like being part of that.”
Bethanie Krieg: It’s just the experience of seeing how United Way works with all the different organizations in the community. It’s pretty awesome.”
Jen Gonser: “It’s giving back to my community.”
Ashley Moe: “We are getting our hands in different programs and different ways of funding. I think we are really expanding.”
Robert Haukenberry: “... because of the positive impact on our most vulnerable population in our community... To actually see it’s not just the dollar amount we raise, but all the folks that we help.”
Toi Burton: “I like the fact that United Way gives back to the community. The money raised here is spent here… Kids are getting eye glasses and dental work... It’s not a sham. You can clearly see the money stays here.”
West Dakota Parent Center
Stacy Kilwein, parent involvement coordinator for the West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center, explained how United Way helps their program:
“The mission of West Dakota is really to provide parents with information, education and support. Parenting is a tough job -- we don’t get a book with all the answers. Really, we are providing parents with that support. Out in social media today we are bombarded with lots of information that isn’t always factual. We provide research-based programs and information through classes and workshops. We have a free lending library and we have support groups,” Kilwein said.
“United Way has a little piece of my heart because United Way is all about our community,” Kilwein continued. “Their dollars stay local... United Way helps us to be able to provide child care and to provide meals that break down the barriers that keep a parent from coming to a class. If parents, say, gets done with work at 5 o’clock, head home, cook a meal and feed the children, it’s unlikely they will come back out. If they come straight from work, enjoy a meal, know their kids are well taken care of while they attend a workshop, it works really well for families.”
The Northern Lights Boy Scouts is another nonprofit supported by United Way.
“United Way provides critical funding that is used for direct program delivery,” said Dale Musgrave, senior development director. “The funds aid in youth and adult recruiting, training and program supplies… Another big one is sickness and accident insurance so kids have insurance if something happens -- those are included in the direct program delivery.”
Musgrave counted 708 kids from United Way’s zip code territory who have been served by Boy Scouts last year. They may have attended weekly meetings, Pack meetings or a weekend of camping.
“Many of the kids receive, on average, of 200 hours a year of programming -- that’s 14,000 hours of Scouting,” he added.
House of Manna
The House of Manna relies on United Way to keep the lights on.
“They help us tremendously -- they help pay the rent and utilities. We probably wouldn’t be open without them,” said House of Manna Director Nan Rapp.
House of Manna’s mission is to assist families in need -- to help them get on their feet.
“In just one month alone, we had four families come in from one fire,” she said. “They were looking for certain things, but mainly for clothes,” she said.
Salvation Army recently donated the extra coats from Coats for Kids, but they were mainly for adults.
“They go fast, we are going to be in need of kids coats, men’s coats, anything, and we always need blankets again,” Rapp said. “Families from the South are hearing North Dakota winters aren’t the best -- we’re seeing new families and it’s only October. The worst is yet to come.”
Clothing not suitable to wear is often recycled.
“We save the cotton for rags, and we save material for the quilters around the area,” Rapp said.
“We need clean, usable clothes, we can’t stress that enough,” she added.
Drop off times are 6:30-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Shopping times are 1-4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
“We ask that they leave a small donation. If they can’t leave a donation, remember us when you get on your feet. They come back and thank us for helping them out… it tugs at your heart.”
Neighbors helping neighbors
United Way brings people together for a single goal of “Neighbor Helping Neighbor”-- funds raised here stay here. Needs are identified and programs are created to meet those needs. A primary example is the United Way Day of Caring. In 2018, volunteers from United Way, American Bank Center and sponsors put in North Dakota’s first Born Learning Trail in Rocky Butte.
“Our hopes for 2019 will be to have a week-long Day of Caring -- painting school’s bathrooms, putting in a Spanish version of the born Learning Trail and, back by popular demand, helping the elderly and disabled residents,” De Leon said.
Examples of partnerships are the annual food drive and annual school supply drive with Menards; and the annual toys, book and pre-teen gift drives with the Dickinson Public Library, Menards and Serendipity.
Lesser-known efforts include the Free Through Recovery Provider -- advocating for people transitioning out of prison or struggling with addiction; the Drug Free Community Coalition, the Born Learning Initiative, and the Stark County Emergency Management Fund Coordinator.
The next step in the campaign is for the packets to be returned to the United Way office by mid-November -- no later than early January when United Way does its budget.
United Way agencies
Best Friends Mentoring
Catholic Charities of North Dakota, guardianship program
Community Action Partnership, emergency assistance
Community Action Partnership Prairie Rose
Community Action Partnership Safety City
Dickinson Backpack Program
Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center
Elder Care/public transit
Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons
House of Manna
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota; senior companions
Northern Lights Boy Scouts
Stark County Imagination Library
United Way of Dickinson’s Emergency Dental and Eye Glass Fund (paying for emergency dental care or people who cannot afford eye exams and glasses).
United Way of Dickinson’s Project H.E.R.O (helping students afford school lunch and safe transportation.
West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center
The ways to donate include:
* Online at dickinsonunitedway.com/donations
* By check made payable to United way of Dickinson
* Text-to-give at: Text UWDICKINSON to 4144
* Donate through workplace campaign
* Donate stock or other securities.
* Designate United Way of Dickinson as the recipient of your annual charity donation.