May Your Backpack Always Be Full

This beautiful story is re-posted with permission from the author, Mrs. Fischer from Grimsrud Elementary and showcases the impact of the United Way Backpack Program.

The place: My Classroom
The Day: Friday
The Time: Afternoon
Me: Talking to no one and everyone, in particular

After what seemed to be one of the longest weeks ever, I was taking attendance and just said, “Whew, I’m so glad it’s Friday,” to no one, really. I’m sure a few kids heard me and just went about their silent reading time. But one heard me and came to my table in the back of the room.

This one said, “Me, too, Mrs. Fischer!”

I said, “Something special going on this weekend?” Expecting an answer like, yeah, we’re going to the street fair, or movies or getting a video game…Boy, was I wrong!

This one replied, “I love Fridays because I get to (get to, mind you) take the backpack full of food home to my family!”

Right then and there I wanted to grab that child, hold on to them forever…apologize to anyone/everyone I ever thought a mean thing about, quit whining about petty stuff, because here in front of me was a nine year old child who was so excited because they get to take home a backpack of food to the family! They will have food for the weekend.

As a couple of tears appeared this one said smiling up at me, “Do you get to take home a backpack, too?”

I said, “Yes, yes I do, but my backpack has some different type of “food” than yours. Mine won’t be as full as yours is.”

This one responded as they hugged me, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Fischer, I bet next week yours will be full too!” and went to their spot and started to read.

I turned around so the kids couldn’t see me because I was crying. And this is what I saw (a photo my dad). Talk about divine intervention, whatever works for you. This picture WAS on top of my taller shelf since school started. Somehow it was down right beside the phone…He must have known it’s been a heck of a week. Just like the nine year old letting me know that next week my backpack will be full, too. Little does this one know my backpack is already full! I just need to see it, feel it, and love!

1,000,000 Meals Provided Last Year

This week, Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary recognized as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.Thanks to programs like the Great Plains Food Bank, Burleigh County Senior Center, Mandan Golden Age and the United Way Backpack Program, over 1,000,000 meals were provided to the hungry in our area last year. We’re making great headway in combating hunger, we still have work to do.

Check out Brenda’s story of how her life took a turn and she found herself with two extra mouths to feed.

uw_portraits_0046Brenda had worked hard to prepare for retirement and she thought she was ready. However, life took a different turn when she unexpectedly became the guardian of her two young grandchildren.

Brenda previously had enough to take care of herself, but started running short with two growing boys to feed. Despite working full time and tapping into retirement savings, she quickly realized that her income wasn’t going to be enough and that food was going to be a problem.

Then she found help through Great Plains Food Bank, a partner in United Way’s Health Initiative. She enrolled the boys in a summer lunch program and was able to receive the assistance she needed to keep her family fed and fueled.

“At first I was embarrassed to ask for help. I’m 64 years old and have never asked for any type of assistance. But this was beyond me. It was about my grandchildren eating and I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep them from going hungry,” said Brenda.

Without this assistance, Brenda would have likely been faced with tough choices to keep food on the table, such as giving up needed medication or keeping up with house and utility payments. Brenda’s grandsons also would have likely sensed the pressure she was facing and begun to act out in school. With no relief in sight, these problems would have only grown worse.

“I can say I’m not longer ashamed to be on the other side. I’ve been treated with dignity and respect and my grandchildren have enough to eat. The summer feeding program gives them the fuel they need to do well in school, which will help them get into college. In that way, it’s providing them with so much more than food – it’s providing my grandchildren with a future.”


LIVE UNITED DAY – November 18

Next Friday, November 18, Governor Dalrymple has declared Live United Day across North Dakota and we want to celebrate with you! After all, it’s our volunteers and donors who are Living United to make our communities a better place.

• Get you co-workers together and wear a United Way t-shirt (Live United, Day of Caring, etc.) next Friday, November 18.
Post on photo on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #LiveUnitedBisMan. Don’t forget to tag MSA United Way in your post so we see it and can share.
Join us on Friday night for Live United with the Bobcats! Please forward the info below to your staff and encourage them to reserve their tickets now. Once the 50 free tickets are gone, they’re gone.


Come celebrate LIVE UNITED DAY on November 18 with the Bismarck Bobcats.

The first 50 people who order tickets and wear a Live United shirt to the game will get in free (limit 2 free tickets per family). Ticket prices are $11-adults, $8-youth, $9-senior citizen & $9-military.To secure your free tickets and pay for additional tickets, call the Bobcats ticket office at 222-3300. The free tickets are first call, first receive. Tickets ordered ahead of time can be picked up the night of the game at will-call.

The puck drops at 7:15 p.m., but join us as early as 6:15 p.m. for $1 off draft beer and fun with your United Way friends in sections 9 & 10.

See you there!

Seeking Nominations for Volunteer Award

Each year, Missouri Slope Areawide (MSA) United Way sponsors the Bismarck-Mandan Lifetime of Caring Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual who, through a lifetime of service-work and volunteerism, has made a difference in our community. Nominations are being accepted through October 31.

Nominations can be made by going to or by mail, email or fax. Nominees must describe in 150 words or less, based on the criteria below, why you think the person is deserving of the Lifetime of Caring Award. Include your name, address and phone number on your nomination.

Nomination Guidelines:

1. The person must be a long-time resident of the Bismarck-Mandan area.
2. The nominee is someone to look up to, someone who serves as an example.
3. The individual has contributed to the overall betterment of the community.
4. The nominee has consistently devoted a significant amount of volunteer
time to community service.
5. The individual was instrumental in beginning new programs or new methods
to solve community programs.
6. The person’s leadership or service work has resulted in “community-
7. The person is not currently employed by a nonprofit.

Nominations must be received by 5 p.m., Monday, October 31. Entries will be judged by a committee of community leaders, assembled by United Way. The Bismarck-Mandan Lifetime of Caring Award will be presented at the MSA United Way annual meeting on January 27, 2017. Nominees need not be affiliated or associated with United Way in order to be eligible.


Our Community Cares

dsc_0282If you’ve been a part of it, you’ll understand. There’s something special about Day of Caring. Something about the atmosphere created by over 1,000 people working together toward a common goal of making our community a better place.

At 7 a.m. on Aug. 10, volunteers began to arrive at Century High School. By 7:30 a.m. dsc_6533jpgthe bleachers were packed. A sea of gray and blue shirts listened as MSA United Way Board and Campaign Cabinet leadership discussed
campaign goals, community needs and solutions. By 8:15 a.m., volunteers were on their way to their assigned project. By 4 p.m., volunteers were meeting up at the Dakota Zoo to celebrate the day’s accomplishments.

In a single day:

– A record breaking 1,009 volunteers pitched in, investing 8,000 hours in our community.

43 sites and well over 150 projects were completed throughout Bismarck-Mandan and surrounding communities helping local nonprofits catch up on maintenance and make much-needed improvements.

– More than 100 local businesses pitched in to support the event through sponsorships, in-kind donations and providing employees a paid volunteer day.

– Nearly $275,000 in savings can now be reinvested into what matters, programs and services for people in our community.

Can’t wait until Day of Caring next year? You can get involved right now, by visiting to view current volunteer needs in our community. Become a fan of United Way to receive updates when new needs are posted.

Finding Friends Through Volunteerism

Thank you to Joan Trygg, Women United Community Baby Shower Chair, for sharing Community Baby Showerwhy you love Women United and the Community Baby Shower.

For more information on Women United or the Community Baby Shower, visit and like WU on Facebook


Last year, as I started my normal morning routine, I did what pretty much every American citizen does… checked social media.

I opened Facebook and I saw a post from my friend Trisha. She was posting about a Community Baby Shower, an event where baby items are collected and put into baskets for new or expecting mothers in need. I clicked on the event, read the details and thought this was definitely something I could help with. The event information was from an MSA United Way group called Women’s Leadership Circle (now called Women United). I talked to a few other friends and we all decided to go and volunteer.

I arrived at the event and was a little nervous since I was the first to show up from my
group of friends and I knew no one. I was welcomed by several awesome ladies who explained to me what they’re all about and the types of events they are involved in. I remember how nice they were. Not the fake nice, but the kind of nice where you know they care and are genuinely glad you are there. We assembled the bags, got to know each other and enjoyed our day.

After the event was over, I decided to join Women United. We worked side by side at Day of Caring at Welcome House, adopted a classroom at Saxvik Elementary, collected food at the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive and so much more.

This past spring, I received a Hero plaque. Certainly something I was not expecting. I don’t feel like a hero. I feel like I am part of a family – a family of ladies who are all working to help our community address the needs in education, poverty, hunger and more.

This year I had the honor of chairing the Community Baby Shower. I am proud to say that with the work of several ladies, the event was an overwhelming success. Our group of volunteers assembled 112 bags filled with necessities such as diapers, wipes, formula, pacifiers, blankets, towels, a book for each child and educational materials for the new Mothers to gain the skills they need to help their new child get the best start possible.
I look forward to the next volunteer opportunity and want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of the ladies for your hard work and, more importantly, your friendship.


Online Auction – Friendly Competition to Help Our Community

Travel extraordinaires and sport and entertainment fans who want to support the community are in luck come April 18, as that marks the start of MSA United Way’s Online Auction. From the comfort of your own home you can search over 100 items that will benefit United Way and our partner agencies. This will be the ninth year for this annual, community-wide fundraiser.
Items up for bid include: a timeshare, an autographed UND 2016 national championship team hockey jersey, rounds of golf, dog kennels, golf club set, grill, Medora vacation, spa packages, and much more. There’s something for everyone.
All items have been donated by area businesses, organizations and community members. The auction runs for two weeks and will end on Friday, April 29 at 8 p.m.
“This is one of our largest fundraisers of the year,” said Jena Gullo, executive director at MSA United Way. “The auction offers an alternative way for businesses and individuals to support the community.”
For a full list of items or to place a bid, visit