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Yadira is the Program Director for PimaCare at Home, partnering with United Way of Tucson's Direct Care Workforce program. The ELDER Alliance, anchored at United Way of Tucson, provides sponsorships to qualifying individuals who are interested but unable to afford the mandatory requirements in becoming a direct care professional. “My hope is that we continue to come together and build successful connections to better the Tucson and Southern Arizona community. I hope we can stand united, advocating for our caregivers, the community members needing jobs and the ones in need of services, most importantly doing it with passion. The impact organizations such as United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona have on the community influence change not just locally but nationwide.”
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) provides free tax preparation for people earning up to $73k annually. Each year, VITA recruits dozens of local volunteers and provides free classes and IRS Certification. Jesse was one of those volunteers. "The VITA team at United Way of Tucson worked hard to help as many people possible, given the extreme circumstances of the pandemic. My interactions with the VITA participants were extremely rewarding. The first client that comes to mind was a gentleman who was laid off early in the pandemic. He was forced to move off one of Arizona’s reservations to a bigger city to look for work. When we spoke, he still had not found work. Because he had not received any stimulus payments, I was able to help ease his financial situation through the work we do."
The Family Support Alliance anchored at United Way of Tucson is uniting quality services that strengthen families with young children. Home visitors provide families with parenting education, community resources, & family assistance. One of our home visitors, Lucia, was working with a family of eight, that includes six children. "In early 2021, the mother came down with COVID-19 and had to stop working. She has continued to be sick since then, so much so that her husband also had to stop working to take care of her and the children. The medical bills were piling up and the family was struggling when the Family Support Alliance stepped in." Their home visitor connected the family to utility assistance from the United for Southern Arizona COVID-19 fund along with other resources to help the family through this difficult time.
United Way's My Summer Library program is a partnership with 18 local elementary schools aimed at improving 3rd-grade reading proficiency and building home libraries. This past year, 2,100 kindergarten - 2nd graders received 12 books each, totaling 25,200 distributed throughout Pima County. 120 teachers also received a matching set of 12 books for their classrooms helping them support students reading their new books in person and virtually. One teacher said, "Many of our students enter school with little to no books at home. Some have parents who are not able to read to them. I feel that having books at home can support the skills being learned at school. I have had parents tell me how proud they are that their children are learning to love reading!"
– Staff, Walter Douglas Elementary School
Cuquis and her husband Jorge are the owners and childcare home providers of “Mi Angel de mi Guardia” in Tucson, Arizona. They participate in the Great Expectations Program anchored at United Way of Tucson, which provides free professional development to early childhood educators. “Through the Great Expectations courses we have received a variety of trainings and presentations from national speakers. These sessions have allowed us to provide our children with lessons and supports we didn't previously have.” - Cuquis Cuquis and Jorge have taken full advantage of the resources provided to them from the Great Expectations program, they are continuing to grow as professionals, sharing stories of success and encouraging others to grow.
Tammy has been working at Oyama Elementary School for the last 11 years as the School Principal. Oyama Elementary is one of the 18 schools which participate in United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s My Summer Library program. The goals of My Summer Library are to improve 3rd-grade reading proficiency, build students’ home libraries and mitigate summer learning loss. Young students (pre-kindergarten to second grade) at Oyama select age-appropriate books to build a home library. These books are essential for under-resourced families to help their children foster a love of literacy and the skills to become fluent readers later in the elementary years. “My school and career have been working with families that live at or below the poverty line. I have watched many families struggle just to maintain a place to live and be able to pay bills. This leaves very little energy for families to focus on just being a family. When I see United Way helping so many of them in a variety of ways I am encouraged and want to help even more. United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona has their finger on the pulse of the needs in the community and I am proud to be able to work with them.”
The number one trauma for young people who have been systems involved is the death of a friend or family member. This past year, EOLCP received the Vitalyst Health Foundation Systems Change Grant to help address this issue with community partners Tu Nudito and Goodwill Metro. Funds were used to create bereavement support groups for Opportunity Youth (16-to-24-year-olds who are not in school or working) in Southern AZ. Training will also be provided to Pima County Juvenile Court staff and probation officers, to identify youth who are in need of services. By strengthening the processes and available services around experience with death in the Youth population, these young people will be more likely to reconnect with society, instead of reconnecting with the criminal justice system.
This past year, Tim became involved with the ELDER Alliance and The Arizona End of Life Care Partnership (EOLCP), both anchored at United Way. The ELDER Alliance is a broad collaboration of community partners and residents aged 50+ advocating and designing solutions to improve quality of life for the older adult population. EOLCP is dedicated to creating a comprehensive network of end of life care support in Southern Arizona. “Not only does United Way support important social service non-profit organizations, but it also hosts important community organizing activities. I hope we can become a model for what a healthy, prosperous, and just community looks like and I admire the community organizing United Way of Tucson does to help connect the pieces to ensure a more equitable Southern Arizona.” - Tim Wernette
Robin is a single mother of two who has been using the VITA program for 3 years. When the pandemic hit, she turned to VITA’s new online platform, GetYourRefund.org. At first, it looked like Robin would owe money to the government. Additionally, Robin was struggling with securing consistent childcare, due to the pandemic, and she often had to miss work or pay double for her children’s care, resulting in adverse pay. Robin’s VITA Volunteer spent hours doing research on current tax laws. He found that due to her experiences of adverse pay, instead of owing money, Robin and her family qualified for a significant refund. “I’m so appreciative of VITA’s efforts, I know if I’d paid someone to do my taxes, I wouldn’t have had the same result. Thank you for providing this amazing program.” - Robin
Taia is a member of the United Youth Leadership Council (UYLC), a partner organization of United Way of Tucson, that works to continuously improve employment and educational systems to better serve Opportunity Youth (16-to-24-year -olds who are not in school or working). Additionally, the UYLC is dedicated to improving the juvenile justice and child welfare systems to achieve positive outcomes for youth who are system involved. “This work is important because we provide a voice to a group of people society tends to neglect. This is especially necessary right now with the tragedy of COVID-19. Currently, we’re making hygiene packets for the youth since not everybody has access to a sink or other basics. Knowing we’re making things accessible is really great for our community.” - Taia Thomas