Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ADVOCATE - 10 Ways You Can Advocate

  1. Tell your family and friends about United Way of Pierce County and what we do.
  2. Make a point to learn about and discuss local issues with family and friends – then get involved.
  3. If you're passionate about Education, Income or Health, write a letter to the editor or post a comment on a local blog.
  4. Wear a LIVE UNITED t-shirt.
  5. Call, email or visit your elected officials.
  6. Encourage a person in need to call 2-1-1.
  7. Register and vote in the next election.
  8. Request a speaker for your workplace or social club and learn more about how United Way helps build lasting opportunities for a good life for all who live in our community.
  9. Volunteer for a committee or advocacy team.
  10. Volunteer for an agency that serves your community.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

GIVE - It's Not Just About Money

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

When asked to GIVE to the community, most people assume charities want their money. Financial support is one of the most powerful ways we can help our community but it is not the only way you can GIVE through United Way.

Did you know…

  • United Way operates the Gifts in Kind Distribution Center where people can donate gently used items to be “recycled” to those in need. Each year, the Gifts In Kind program redistributes $1 million worth of goods to the community, everything from men’s suits and children’s clothing to appliances and office furniture.
  • You can help kids go back to school with the needed supplies that can burden many low-income families. When times are tough, purchasing school supplies and new clothes can force families to make tough choices between paying bills or buying groceries. By sponsoring a child through the Back-to-School program offered through the Volunteer Center, you can provide these kids with what they need.
  • The holidays can be a very difficult time of year for struggling families. You can sponsor a family or host a toy drive or giving tree to help every family have happy holidays through Season of Caring.
  • You can give your time by volunteering. Whether you’re a teen looking for something to keep you busy this summer, a retiree who has a special skill to share or a group looking to build relationships and help those in need, volunteer opportunities exist for any age or skill level.
  • You can participate in social events like those hosted by Project:U where a portion of the proceeds go back to the community.
  • You can give your time to serve on the board of a nonprofit or volunteer committees like those that make key decisions at United Way of Pierce County.
  • You can write your local leaders about a cause you are passionate about or help further an initiative by spending time advocating.
  • You can include a charity in your estate planning.
There are so many ways you can give to your community. WE WANT TO KNOW…how will you GIVE this year?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

United Way of Pierce County Rated “At the Top” by National Organizations

by Rick Allen, President & CEO

Unfortunately, I’m old enough to remember when cigarette companies were advertising that their cigarettes were “recommended by doctors.” So, like many, I have a very skeptical view when it comes to organizations telling me how great they are.

For me, and I suspect for you, that means that independent third-party analysis and ratings are much more valuable than self-proclaimed excellence.

It’s in that context that I’d like to brag a little about what other people, independent of us, are saying about United Way of Pierce County.

In December, 2008, for the fourth consecutive year, United Way of Pierce County has received the very highest rating from Charity Navigator, a rating of “4 Stars”. Two things stand out about this rating from Charity Navigator, which is an independent firm that evaluates ten times more charities nationwide than their nearest competitor, and attracts more visitors to their website than all other charity evaluators combined.

First, of the thousands of charities Charity Navigator evaluates, only 6% have received 4 Stars over the last four consecutive years. That’s pretty rare air. And secondly, when you look at United Ways all across the nation, and there are about 1,300 independent United Ways, only a total of five United Ways (one of them us) have received the 4-Star rating over the last four consecutive years. So among United Ways in America, United Way of Pierce County is rated in the top half of 1%. I hope you just said “Wow!” in your head on that one.

As Charity Navigator puts it, this means United Way of Pierce County “outperforms most other charities in America” when it comes to fiscal accountability, fiscal transparency, and efficient use of funds.

This is a wonderful affirmation of our work from independent, outside evaluators. I hope sharing information such as this with you helps to give you even more confidence in United Way of Pierce County’s ability to help produce good results for people in Pierce County with the donations you invest.

Friday, June 12, 2009

VOLUNTEER – Getting as Much as You Give

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

Volunteering is a vital part of the health of our community. When people we reach out a hand to one, we influence the condition of all. Whether it’s reading to children or delivering meals to homebound seniors, there are hundreds of volunteer options available every day.
For many people, volunteering is about giving back. But did you ever stop to consider what you get out of volunteering?

Sure, there’s the practical things…meeting new people, learning new skills, teaching others your skills, enhancing your resume. But did you ever wonder if the life you were changing by volunteering might be your own?
United Way of Pierce County sent 75 volunteers out into the community as part of the Leadership Day of Caring. Some signed up as a team building opportunity for their office. Others joined in because “it’s the right thing to do”. While others, just wanted to help. But many of them found that they walked away with something unexpected.

Volunteers who worked side by side with developmentally disabled clients at L’Arche Farm and Gardens, found joy dancing in the greenhouse and chasing the chickens around the yard. They ended their morning exhausted but learned from their co-planters that great satisfaction comes from a job well done, no matter what your abilities.

Others arrived to help English as a second language students perfect their speech at Tacoma Community House and left educated about new cultures and reminded that all of our ancestors made the same trip to the United States in search of a better life. They made new friends and gained new appreciation for the freedoms we often take for granted.

Every day, ordinary people are accomplishing extraordinary things by volunteering. They build houses. They beautify parks. They complete repairs that would otherwise not get done. And sometimes, they take away a little more than they gave. Take a chance to experience something unexpected. Volunteer.

WE WANT TO KNOW…Tell us about a volunteer experience you had where you came away with something unexpected.

Check out the rest of the photos from Leadership Day of Caring at http://www.flickr.com/photos/uwpc_liveunited/sets/

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Community Indicators Measure Our Quality of Life

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

For years, it was part of United Way of Pierce County’s job to know what the needs of the community were. It is essential to making sure we, the community, are making the most impact. In 2007, United Way began compiling the information and data necessary to not only gauge the needs, but focus our work and monitor our progress.
The Community Indicators web site (www.indicators.uwpc.org) is an online catalog of the information pertinent to life in Pierce County. Foreclosures, poverty rates, unemployment. All of these factors affect the quality of life in our community. For those of us working to resolve the toughest issues in our area and create a good life for all, it is important for us to be aware of the needs and make sure we are working together to make a difference in those areas.

Did you know…
  • First quarter 2009 foreclosure filings were up nearly 60% compared to first quarter 2008.
  • Fair Market Rent - the estimate of what a family, moving today, can expect to pay for a modest rental home - increases have outpaced the Median Household Income growth by almost 5%.
  • Pierce County’s unemployment rate outpaced the state by almost a full percent in March of 2009 – 7,320 people became unemployed in first quarter 2009, compared to 690 in the same period for 2008.

A few minutes clicking around the Community Indicators site would have told you these stories and many more. The Community Indicators site is a comprehensive vault of data but it is also much more. It is a map to identify the community’s toughest issues, how they relate and how we can partner to bring resolution

It is a tool with unlimited capabilities. Do you have a student in school? Use the Community Indicators site as a resource on your next term paper or presentation. Are you the Executive Director of an agency trying to make sure you are working in the areas where our community needs the most help? The Community Indicators site can tell you what those areas are. Are you the owner of a company trying to figure out where to direct your philanthropic efforts? The Community Indicators site can help.

One look at the data will tell you that, in some areas, things are not good. But if knowledge is power, just think of the difference we can make given what we know.

WE WANT TO KNOW…Visit the Community Indicators web site at
www.indicators.uwpc.org and tell us what data surprised you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our Work - Health

by Nicole Milbradt, Sr. Marketing Associate & Events Manager

We believe education, income and health are the foundation for a good life. Good health is critical for everyone, especially families with children. United Way has always supported this area by funding a safety net of essential human services. Now we want to also address some of the systemic issues and achieve long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place.
Here in Pierce County we’re focused on improving access to health care, in particular increasing enrollment in state and federally-funded healthcare programs for those who may not have other coverage. One of the keys to improving people’s health is access to quality medical services.
Our goal is to improve people’s health by improving access to critical health care services and by increasing the health of children and adults through education and prevention.
One in eight people in Pierce County does not have health insurance. Seventy percent of children who are uninsured are eligible for coverage but their families don’t know how to get access.
Here are a few ways United Way is addressing the problem:
  • United Way partnered with the Client Outreach program to help uninsured apply for and receive the benefits they are eligible for. These efforts have resulted in thousands accessing coverage and millions in health care costs being recovered.
  • United Way also partnered with dentists in the community to launch the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program, which provides low-income families access to dental care. Since its inception, the program has served 18,000 children.
  • Free cataract services worth several hundred thousand dollars to be provided by private and public entities to individuals unable to afford such care.
  • United Way of Pierce County launched the annual Tacoma City Kids Marathon, in conjunction with the Tacoma City Marathon, to encourage kids to engage in healthy activities and community service.
  • In addition, United Way helped convene the people needed to improve health care access in rural communities that would be most affected by a natural disaster, like the eruption of Mt. Rainier.
WE WANT TO KNOW…What health issues do you think affect children the most?