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Fight Summer Brain Drain!

books“… the best predictor of summer loss or summer gain is whether or not a child reads during the summer. And the best predictor of whether a child reads is whether or not he or she has access to books.” – Allington, Richard L. and McGill-Franzen, Anne. “Bridging the Summer Reading Gap,” Scholastic Instructor (2003, May/June).

This summer Marion County is arming our children with books to battle Summer Brain Drain! Did you know  (more…)


“Be The Change You Want To See In The World”

mentorWe have shared how volunteering is great for your health and for your career. Even with all this information about how being a volunteer can benefit us personally, we may still be hesitating.  Are you thinking, “Ok, I’m sold… but where do I start?’  Well, you’re in luck. The United Way Worldwide is asking you to take a pledge and we are going to help get you kick started with some tips on what to do and what not to do when getting started volunteering as a mentor.

What to Do:

1. Practice Active Listening

2. Try not to use the word “Should”  with yourself or your mentee.

3. Show up – Be on time and stay committed.

4. Have your own mentors – push your own growing edge.

5. Celebrate – During every interaction make sure there is at least one step of progress that is celebrated.

Do You Just Wanna Have Fun?

Special Olympics World Summer Games - Day SevenDid you know that there are dozens of opportunities to volunteer in Marion County and have fun through recreation programs? Volunteering is a great way to get exercise, laugh and relieve stress! This month you can volunteer with Marion County Special Olympics to help prepare for this summer’s 42nd annual Special Olympics Summer Games.

LIVE UNITED: Volunteer Spotlight VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance)

KenVitaRetirement hasn’t put Ken Harper on the sidelines. Instead, for the past three years he has devoted himself to volunteering as a tax preparer with United Way’s VITA program. His 32 years as general manager of the Army and Air Force exchange service and 13 years with H & R Block as a tax specialist and trainer has proven to be invaluable to our VITA program. Ken assists with training new volunteers and mentors them as they prepare their first returns assuring accuracy and compliance with tax law. Additionally, Ken is a “Golden Hammer” with Habitat for Humanity, helping to build homes for families in need of a hand up.

Because of Ken’s dedication and that of a team of other VITA volunteers, Marion County residents saved over $234,300 in filing fees and $2,183,888 in federal tax refunds were returned to Marion County. Thank you Ken, for your faithful service to United Way’s VITA program!

What’s new at 2-1-1? Give Help: Live United

WhatsNewMost people think of 2-1-1 as a place to get help, but remember, it’s also a great place to Give Help! Are you a teacher looking for a one time event for your students to lend a hand? Dial 2-1-1. Are you recently retired and want to lend your expertise and wisdom to the community in your spare time? Dial 2-1-1. Are you changing careers and need some hands on experience to help transition? Dial 2-1-1.

We have opportunities ranging from support group facilitation, event planning, board of director positions, fundraising, answering phones and more!

Simply dial 2-1-1 at any time from any phone, or if you prefer looking online, visit our website.

LIVE UNITED: Marion Senior Services Volunteer Spotlight

HelenThis week we are joined by Marion Senior Services as they spotlight one of their phenomenal volunteers, a Meals on Wheels driver, Helen Helvenston.  She shares in her own words below why she loves to LIVE UNITED.

It was many years ago when a friend suggested that I ride along with her on her Meals on Wheels delivery route. I had just retired and was bored. It seemed like a different way to kill time. Little did I know that that invitation would open a new door in my world. (more…)

LIVE UNITED: Unemployed? Try Working for Free.

liveunitedIt may sound crazy, especially when you’re struggling financially, but volunteering can be a great way to find a job. You may not find a job with the company you are volunteering for, but through networking, outstanding performance and building up necessary skills, you’ll get a boost down the road to employment. Do you have an obstacle that’s consistently preventing you from being hired, such as: a gap in employment, former incarceration, or lack of recommendations? Volunteering gives you a chance to prove your merit, fill in that gap and if you do a great job… come away with a shining recommendation.  It also puts you back in the game, contributing your skills and supporting your community. This helps build your self esteem and that will come across as you go in for interviews. An additional option you may want to consider if you are facing any of the obstacles listed above is to get Federally Bonded.

The United Way has approximately 200 volunteer opportunities for Marion County listed through our Volunteer Resource Center. Starting with a quick search is a great first step. Did someone you know get a job through volunteering? Tell us about it in the comments.

Losing Hope

Studies have shown that (more…)

Before You Reuse That Diaper…

diaperneed2Did you know that 1 out of 3 families struggle to afford diapers for their children in the United States? Some families have had to resort to scraping out and reusing wet or soiled disposable diapers.

Community agencies have pulled together on both sides of the cloth/disposable fence of diapering to help meet the need and ensure that children are able to use clean diapers. Marion County agencies have stepped up, offering disposable diapers in addition to other baby needs such as food, clothing and furniture. Nationwide, there is another network of agencies responding with a lending library: of cloth diapers.

The cloth diaper programs lend qualifying families a full set of cloth diapers for your little ones with the agreement that you will return them clean when you don’t need them anymore. Eligibility requirements and program requirements vary from agency to agency, but all of them are FREE. (more…)

2-1-1 Marion Needs a Volunteer!

tablingHelp spread the word about 211! We need an outreach volunteer to help us by attending community events in Marion County and talking to community members and agencies about 2-1-1’s critical service to the community. You would also identify ways we can partner with agencies to best support Marion County residents. So what does this volunteer opportunity involve?  When attending an event if someone you are speaking with identifies that they want to volunteer, you can share volunteer opportunities with them. If someone shares that they want to be listed as a resource with 2-1-1, you can give them an application to fill out.  If someone discloses that they need resources, you can offer to help them call, text or chat with 2-1-1 to get the resources they need. Do you think this blog is amazing? You can help us make it even better by suggesting content and promoting the blog through social media and at community events. Please visit the Volunteer Resource Center and let us know if you are interested in volunteering with us.

Not sure? Our previous outreach volunteer shared: “I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend tabling events and learn how important it is to get people connected to needed resources. Work like this is so imperative to society as well as the individuals who are in need.”

211 has served over 12,000 people in Marion County in 2012. Everyone we followed up with said they were happy with the service 2-1-1 provided! With over half of those calls being the first time that folks are reaching out to 211, it’s important to continue letting the community know about how 211 is an amazing resource. (more…)

LIVE UNITED: American Red Cross

This week we welcome a guest blogger with the American Red Cross, Alex Glenn, to highlight one of their volunteers, Terry Kinder!

ARC Volunteer Spotlight“Terry is a full time student at the University of Florida who is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree majoring in history and looking to complete her Master’s Degree in Education. She also is full time mother of a 7 year old son and still finds the time to help out at the American Red Cross.  She has been volunteering with the American Red Cross for almost a year now.  Terry is probably one of the first voices you hear from ARC in Marion, Hernando and Citrus Counties if you learned about ARC through the United Way Volunteer Resource Center.  She is the volunteer managing the United Way account, enters in all the positions, and follows up with each volunteer who was referred through the website.  It’s because of the work of volunteers such as Terry that the American Red Cross can do what it does which is prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.  Terry, we thank you.”

Volunteer Resource Center & American Red Cross working together:

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