“LIVE UNITED means all people, from all walks of life and circumstances, united by a passion to serve and improve the community we share.”
Valerie Jurasek is a Global Safety and Pharmacovigilance Associate with Inventiv Health and has been a United Way of Jackson County board member for nearly 2 years.
Valerie wants to do her part to make our community a better place, that’s why she dedicates part of her time to United Way of Jackson County.
“I like being involved in anything that betters the community. By providing support to people in the community through programs, we are helping the community as a whole. I have also gone through hard times and now that I am back on my feet, I enjoy giving back where I am able.”
United Way has a vision for Jackson County. We will be a community rich in opportunities to eliminate poverty and allow all people to achieve financial stability and success. Our first goal enroute to making our vision a reality is to help 5,000 Jackson County residents develop a pathway to financial success by 2025. Valerie believes working toward our vision and goal will have a positive impact on Jackson for years to come.
“The new direction of United Way will allow us to focus on addressing the root of most problems, as a whole, instead of focusing on short-term solutions. This will allow us to see greater long-term progress in the community.”
When Valerie isn’t working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with family, running and traveling.
Thank you Valerie for your leadership and commitment to making Jackson County a better place for everyone.
Healthy kids are happy kids, they have better school attendance and overall better attitudes. Healthy kids grow up to be healthy adults who work, live, play and contribute to our community.
Promoting a healthy lifestyle for our youth includes promoting physical activity. Dance for a Healthier Jackson is a program supported by United Way of Jackson County that provides this outlet for children of our community. Affordability often restricts participation to the arts. Your support allows dance classes to be offered through this program at the Jackson School of the Arts on a sliding fee income scale. We believe it is vital to promote physical activity and provide access to the arts to children who otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity. Your United Way support has made a direct impact on the lives of young people for many year in our community. Deana is just one of many who have been touched by your generosity.
Deana is a senior and this year she blossomed. She first came to dance class several years ago as a shy young girl who tried to shrink due to her height. She felt awkward and insecure. After years of dancing, and going over routines she developed a strong work ethic and positive attitude. She gained confidence and satisfaction by working hard at something she enjoyed. This year she earned her spot as pointe. The difference in confidence from her first year to today is astounding. She says she walks proudly through the halls of her school. Her mom wells up she talks about the atmosphere at the Jackson School of the Arts and how her daughter embraced and came to love dance. They had tried other dance studios that where difficult to afford and she couldn’t fit in with the cliques. Jackson School of the Arts provided Deana with the outlet she needed, when she needed it most.
United Way of Jackson County provided start-up funds for this program over 15 years ago. That first year 40 children were introduced to the arts and realized the benefits of physical activity. Today this program serves over 600 children most of which come from struggling families. You IMPACT through your United Way support is real.
We recognize mental health is just as important as physical health. When individuals are mentally and physically healthy they are able to work or continue their education.
Your support allows United Way of Jackson County to sustain The Family Counseling Program through Family Service and Children’s Aid. This program addresses a wide variety circumstances: parent-child alienation, child behavior problems, child abuse and neglect, grief and loss, marriage conflicts, substance abuse, depression and work/life issues. Treatment is customized according to client’s needs and not their ability to pay. Each year hundreds of Jackson County residents seek services through this program. Tom is just one of many who was able to turn his life around, saving his job and relationship with his children.
The federally mandated health care safety net didn’t catch Tom and he fell through the cracks. He worked with a small company that could not provide health care insurance and he could not afford it on his own. He was desperate and about to lose his job. Tom was tired, depressed, and struggled to get out of bed to go to work. His wife just left him and their two young kids.
Tom needed help.
Tom was referred to the United Way supported Family Counseling Program at Family Service and Children’s Aid. Eventually the therapist was able to talk with his doctor to help get appropriate medication for his depression and helped the client find supports so he could be available to his kids. Once these supports were in place, Tom was able to process feelings engendered by the abandonment of his marriage, and look at relationships with his ex-wife’s family. He began to view his situation with more hope. His quality of life and relationships at work and home improved. He was able to maintain his job. Tom still struggles at times, however, without Family Counseling’s support, he could not grieve the loss of his family while continuing to work and eventually regain control over his life.
This program provides counseling services that focus on reducing depression and anxiety, promotes health from trauma and neglect, and teaches interpersonal skills to improve lives. Some 93% of children and 91% of adult clients demonstrated improvement in their mental health or behavioral functioning upon completion of treatment. This program is keeping kids in school, adults on the job and families together. The IMPACT of your support is real and is making a difference in Jackson County.
Every dime matters for individuals and families who are struggling.
Your support makes it possible for United Way of Jackson County to fund the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Low-income households who qualify are getting their taxes properly prepared for free by trained volunteers, and they are getting the tax return they deserve. Households that are in distress are getting an infusion of cash when they need it most. Betty is one of thousands who benefit from this program every year in Jackson County.
Being a senior citizen, Betty is on a limited income, which leaves little room for any extra expenses. For more than seven years she has had her taxes prepared for free by certified volunteers through the VITA Program. “The volunteers are so helpful, they know their stuff, and it really helps me to feel confident that I’m not making any mistakes on something so important, like taxes. The best part is I am not out any money to get my refunds and credits and that means the world to someone like me.” Betty says she tells everyone she meets about her experiences and the joy she has received from meeting new volunteers in her community each year. “I feel like they care about me, and I enjoy people who give back to our community as I once was able. Telling people is how I give back now,” she said. “They can count on my call again next year, and I thank everyone involved with this program and sure it is here for us.”
For the 2016 tax season, VITA helped 3,767 households in Jackson County secure $4,455,963 in tax returns. This is money many of these households wouldn’t have had otherwise. Not only are these dollars going to families and individuals who need it most, these dollars and cents are being spent locally in our economy. Your support is making real impact in our community.
“We’re all in this together and need to stand beside each other to build a better community.”
Keri Wood from Eaton Aerospace and United Way Volunteer.
Keri Wood is one of the newest member of our Campaign Cabinet. She has been volunteering her time to provide direction and leadership for our fundraising efforts for just over a year. Keri says it’s important to give back to our community.
“Each person is blessed in different ways with different skill sets and life circumstances, I believe it’s important to pass on those blessings to empower our community.”
Keri believes that by giving of your time, your resources or both, you are making an impact.
“Anything you give, whether time or money, ripples through the community and will make an impact greater than the gift.”
Keri is the HR Manager at Eaton Corporation, Aerospace Division, in Jackson. The Eaton Aerospace campaign was relaunched in 2015 and their campaign showed outstanding improvement. As a result, in 2016 they were recognized by United Way of Jackson County with the Rising Impact Award.
When Keri is not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her husband, their dogs, being active and traveling.
Thank you, Keri Wood, for your dedication, leadership and for making Jackson County a better place.
We believe reducing the number of teenage mothers in our community is just one step of many in creating a community rich in opportunities and free from poverty.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative was formed in 2005 by UWJC and continues today as part of the Jackson County Health Department. TPPI seeks to improve adolescent sexual health, improve communication between teens and adults, and promote awareness on the issue. Because of this program, teenagers across Jackson County are engaged in conversations with peers and adults on sexual health . From January to June 2016, over 1,800 teens were reached through this program. TPPI provided us with an example of how they have been able to drive IMPACT in Jackson County.
Students from several area school districts benefitted from taking part in ‘I WISH’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention assemblies. Hundreds of students also participated in classroom discussions after each assembly. After each classroom discussion, our staff, Teen Advisory Council, and teen parent speakers spoke to several high school students who were impacted by hearing the stories in the video and live on stage. Many of our teen parent speakers were emotional at the assemblies talking about the challenges they have raising their children. The positive support the teen parents received was overwhelming to them. These speakers felt so empowered giving back to their community by reaching other teens with their story. At Northwest High School, the staff was so appreciative of our team coming in and leading the assembly. We even received personal emails from several of the staff regarding how beneficial and powerful the assembly was to their students. At the Middle School at Parkside, staff were engaged the entire time and kept students focused during the assembly. In fact, one of the school administrators told his personal story of being a teen parent to a group of 50 students. At Concord High School, the students were in desperate need of teen pregnancy prevention education. They indicated they were not informed about options of how to prevent a pregnancy and have not received any sex education at their high school. Staff took advantage of small group discussions after the assembly to provide educational information on contraception choices. The impact these assemblies have had this spring has been critical for the TPPI in building relationships with other schools and strengthening the presentation skills of our Teen Advisory Council. In turn, we anticipate that the sexual health choices made by the attendees at each assembly will improve as they consider the consequences of their choices.
Some 70% of teen mothers do not finish high school, they are not college or career ready;75% of teen mothers rely on public assistance within the first five years after giving birth. Most of them remain single, and only 30% receive support from the child’s father. TPPI is making a difference by impacting the lives our youth and preventing teenage pregnancies.
We believe in second chances. We believe troubled teens who are going down the wrong path can be redirected. We want these kids to grow into responsible adults who are financially independent. Your United Way of Jackson County support allows us to fund a Juvenile Diversion and Truancy Prevention Program that provides at-risk juveniles with services that promote regular school attendance, improve overall choices in their behavior, prevent further prosecution/recidivism, and improve familial relationships.
Tammy, is a 15 year old who has dealt with a lot at a young age. This United Way funded program turned her life around. Tammy’s story is one you can be proud of because your support has made a direct IMPACT on her life.
Tammy was angry. She was angry at school because she felt her teachers didn’t like her, so she stopped going. She was angry at her parents because they fought all the time and their relationship was not stable for her entire life so she would constantly fight with them. Tammy was just angry with life in general. She didn’t know how to deal with her anger, that’s why she acted out with violence and continuously made bad choices.
Being in this program Tammy learned how to deal with her anger and emotions in positive ways and she developed positive coping skills. Through counseling, Tammy admitted to being molested by a family friend at the age of 5. The trauma from that experience was finally addressed. Slowly, she showed improvement with her self-esteem and she was learning how to build healthy relationships. Tammy was connected with a school staff member who become a mentor, someone she could trust and confide in.
Tammy recently completed the Program. Now she is attending school regularly, she has developed healthy friendships there too. Her mother said she has become more responsible and Tammy is talking to her more openly. Her father reported significant growth in her ability to manage her attitude, choices, and behaviors.
Tammy completed the Program successfully, reduced her risk factors and built on her strengths. Tammy has a greater chance of succeeding and is on her pathway to stability.
The Juvenile Diversion and Truancy Prevention Program is working. After 6 months 96% of parents have a positive report about their child’s behavior. After 12 months 96% of the kids who successfully completed the program have had no further involvement with the court system. Your support is directly IMPACTING a program that is improving families and changing the trajectory of troubled teens in Jackson County. You are making a difference.
We believe we can eliminate poverty in our community, in part, by preparing struggling students to succeed in school.
Our elementary aged students have a greater chance of graduating high school if they are reading at grade level by the 4th grade. Your support makes it possible for United Way of Jackson County to give students the tools they need to succeed. UWJC’s Energizing Education pairs students who are falling behind with trained reading mentors. These mentors work on reading skills with these students twice a week. Chelsea is a JPS student who now has the tools she needs to be successful in school.
As a 2nd grader, Chelsea was disengaged, easily distracted and struggling in school. Her teacher recommended her for Energizing Education. It was difficult at first. Chelsea’s mentor was patient and encouraging. They would often stop and work on words or discusses pages so she could better understand them. Most days Chelsea’s mentor had to encourage her to finish the book. As time went on, it became less of a struggle, and she looked forward to the time with her mentor each week. She finished books and could retell key parts with ease. Her confidence grew each time she advanced a reading level. Over the course of five months, Chelsea advanced 13 reading levels. She ended up above her grade level and tested out of the program. Her teacher and her mentor were very proud of her. Most importantly, Chelsea was proud of herself and her accomplishments.
Nearly every child in Energizing Education shows improvement in reading; the average margin is 6.82 reading levels. Children who are reading at grade level by the 4th grade are more likely to graduate and go on to post-high education and a rewarding career. These students who were once considered to be “at-risk” are now more likely to succeed and less likely to become a part of the persistent, multi-generational poverty cycle that has swallowed up so many in our community. Your support means Chelsea and other students like her are getting the tools they need to be on their pathway to success and stability.
We believe elderly men who have been abused, neglected or unable to care for themselves deserve an affordable home where their basic needs are met.
Your support for United Way of Jackson County allows us to fund the John George Home. This facility provides a home, food and help with medical and mental health care. It also provides a sense of community and belonging for those who have been forgotten and left behind. Forty-three men currently call the John George Home their home, Bill is one of them.
Bill came from a senior living apartment. He was independent, happy and able to take care of himself. But then Bill had a severe stroke. He couldn’t fully recover, meaning daily tasks became huge obstacles for him. He couldn’t cook, clean or manage his finances. He was alone, without friends or family to help. He needed an affordable place where he could be supported. That place was John George Home. Today, Bill is thriving. His basic living and medical needs are met. He has become more active than his physicians thought possible. He is contributing to the energy and activity of the Home and has made many friends. Bill has a new life.
Every person living at the John George Home receives supportive housing where medical, nutritional, emotional and physical needs are all met. Your UWJC support makes it possible for every person living at the John George Home to have a fulfilling and stable life.