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 http://www.msaunitedway.org/women-united 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 msaunitedway.org/online-auction.

Community Celebrates Teen’s Successful Food Drive

For two weeks in April, community members rallied around a local high school student’s food drive for the United Way Backpack Program to fight child hunger in Bismarck-Mandan. Lauryn Hinckley, a student at Century High School, coordinated her sixth Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive to help feed local children. Her efforts and the support of her family, friends, and community have produced impressive results – more than 7,900 pounds of peanut butter and jelly were collected for the needy in our community, along with $3,700 to purchase additional items for the program.
On Friday, April 15 at 5 p.m., supporters gathered at Leingang Home Center to sort donations and celebrate a successful drive. Donations were collected from the public drop-off sites at Starion Financial and Kupper auto dealerships. Several businesses, such as Aetna, Bobcat, and Fireside Office Solutions held employee drives as well. Students in Bismarck and Mandan Public Schools also collected peanut butter and jelly for the drive, and volunteered to sort and pack the many jars of donations. Target, Walmart, and the Sodexo Foundation have also contributed to the event.

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The event not only marked the conclusion of a successful drive, but was part of Global Youth Service Day. This annual event is coordinated nationally by Youth Service America and is celebrated with youth volunteer projects in over 100 countries on 3 continents.
Donations from the drive will be used in the United Way Backpack Program, which is working to end childhood hunger by filling the gaps and sending healthy meals home with students on weekends and breaks. In 2015, the program – supported by volunteers, individuals and local businesses – provided 53,586 meals to students who do not have enough to eat.

MSA United Way 2016 RFP Calendar

MSA United Way will be accepting applications for funding for the 2016 funding cycle from June 10 – July 10. Applications may be submitted under United Way’s three initiative areas: Education, Income, and Health. Each initiative works toward long-term, community-wide outcomes that aim for the root of the problem to support the building blocks for a good life.

Potential applicants should consider attending the RFP review meeting on June 10.

Applications can be submitted by nonprofit organizations on United Way’s website, http://www.msaunitedway.org/e-c-impact, after June 10 and will be accepted until 5 p.m. on July 10. After submission they will go through a rigorous review process with trained volunteer reviewers, the Community Impact Committee, and the United Way Board of Directors.

2016 RFP Cal

For more information or questions on the application process, contact Chris Block at 701-255-3601.

Online Auction – Great Deals Doing a Great Deal of Good

Travel extraordinaires and sport and entertainment fans who want to support the community are in luck come April 20, 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’s Education Initiative which focuses on removing barriers that prevent students from succeeding in school. This will be the eight year for this annual, community-wide fundraiser.

Items up for bid include: a timeshare, an autographed NDSU 2014 championship team football, rounds of golf, dog kennels, golf club set, 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, May 1 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 msaunitedway.org.

High School Student Teams up with United Way to Tackle Hunger

Bismarck, ND – A Century High School student has teamed up with the United Way Backpack Program, businesses and individuals to address child hunger in the Bismarck-Mandan community.

For the past five years, Lauryn Hinckley has been collecting peanut butter and jelly to help feed local children. To date, her efforts and the support of her family, friends and Lauryn Hinckleycommunity have produced impressive results – 1,701 pounds of peanut butter and jelly and $1,537. With the help of Starion Financial, Leingang Home Center, Bismarck and Mandan public schools, Disney Friends for Change, and Sodexo Foundation, she plans to take it to a new level this year.

Hinckley’s inspiration comes from an event she witnessed a few years ago. “When I was 9-years-old, I witnessed a family not able to afford their groceries. I saw two little boys’ faces drop and a look of embarrassment come over their mother in a busy checkout line. Up to that point, I had never considered the fact that you need money to get food.”

This type of occurrence may be more common than you’d imagine. Fourteen percent of children in the Bismarck-Mandan region live in poverty, and more than 13,000 individuals in Burleigh County alone rely on food banks each year.

The United Way Backpack Program is working to end childhood hunger by filling the gaps and sending healthy meals home with students on the weekends and breaks. In 2014, the program – supported by volunteers, individuals and local businesses – provided 42,192 meals to students who do not have enough to eat. The program is showing signs of success. Reported program outcomes include improved health, reduced stress and improved student performance.

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive will run from Tuesday, April 7 through Friday, April 17. Supporting the drive is as easy as stopping by your local Starion Financial to drop off peanut butter and jelly or visiting msaunitedway.org/pbj to make a monetary contribution. To ensure that items can be delivered to children, please donate 16 to 18 ounce store-bought plastic jars. Youth across the community will also be supporting the effort by hosting drives at their schools.

Help is just a Call Away with FirstLink

Who do you call when you’re in crisis? Friends? Family? Maybe you can recall a time in college when your bank account ran dry and rent was due, perhaps a time you needed someone to talk to you about a relationship problem, or maybe you were just getting started on your own and the cupboards ran dry. Who did you turn to?

FirstLink 2-1-1 Imagine if you didn’t have that friend or family member. Fortunately, thanks to your support of MSA United Way, you can call 2-1-1.

FirstLink (2-1-1) is the go-to place to help people get connected to health and human services, alleviating frustration from people having to call multiple places that are not appropriate for their need. It saves agencies time and money by fielding numerous calls from people requesting services an agency doesn’t provide.

“We help people who are having thoughts of suicide stay alive by working with them to develop and follow a safe plan. For example, a woman who deals with chronic thoughts of suicide calls anytime her urges increase and she needs de-escalation,” comments FirstLink Database and Resource Specialist Angie Hedstrom.

FirstLink call specialists help individuals with mental illness get through the day. They’re a vital piece of the support network, a point-of-contact between therapy appointments, when formal supports may not be available.

Hedstrom shares a few real-life examples of how 2-1-1 services benefit our community. “A gentleman struggling with schizophrenia calls to help stay focused with his daily goals. Another example, a woman who deals with a consistent urge to cut has developed FirstLink into her safe plan.” Anytime she has an urge to cut, she calls 2-1-1. The support has helped her refrain from self-injury for years.

The range of assistance is as diverse as our community. Specialists often connect people to resources they have never heard of. “We help people obtain support to stay in their homes. For example, a family who experienced unexpected medical bills was able to stay in their home by getting assistance with rent and food,” noted Hedstrom.

FirstLink helps our nonprofit network operate more efficiently, and saves our community money by de-escalating crisis situations and preventing the need for local law enforcement, ambulance calls or emergency rooms would otherwise be utilized. All of this is possible because of your support of MSA United Way.