United Way of Greater Cleveland http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org Fri, 29 Jul 2016 13:05:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Van wrapped up in promoting Young Leaders http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/van-wrapped-up-in-promoting-young-leaders/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/van-wrapped-up-in-promoting-young-leaders/#respond Thu, 28 Jul 2016 18:49:37 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5419 By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

The United Way of Greater Cleveland Young Leaders affinity group has raised funds to brand the United Way owned van to use as a “mobile landmark” when working in the community.

Young Leaders (YL) plan to start using the van the first week of August, said Kyle Roggenburk, founder of EKR Brands and YL co-chair. Outside of its planned Days of Action, YL will use the van to stage spontaneous “pop-up” volunteer events at local schools and community centers, said Megan Shadrach, Affinity and Engagement associate at United Way of Greater Cleveland.

Van Wrapped 2 Web

More than a year in the making, the Dodge minivan was given its makeover by Speedpro Imaging, which designed and applied the vehicle wrap.

“We thought it was important to have a signature landmark in the community to have at certain events so when people saw it, they knew that Young Leaders were there making an impact through volunteerism or fundraising,” Roggenburk said. “We thought that wrapping a van would be a great way to do that to bring to different events and drive awareness in the community around United Way and, specifically United Way Young Leaders.”

Van Wrapped 1 Web

Young Leaders are professionals in their 20s and 30s who “want to work to make our community better through philanthropy, volunteerism and advocacy with United Way of Greater Cleveland,” as described at www.unitedwaycleveland.org.

The official unveiling is at Fall Ball, Saturday, Oct. 8, where the van will be parked outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to promote YL.

“People who aren’t going to the event will see the van and maybe ask some questions around, ‘What is that, what is United Way, what is Young Leaders?’” he said. “Ultimately, we hope they go do some research on the internet and see that there’s a lot ways to get involved in volunteering and fundraising and, as the van’s out and about, we hope that it drives engagement to people we may not have reached before.”

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United Way of Toledo and United Way of Greater Cleveland Partner to provide 2-1-1 services http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/united-way-of-toledo-and-united-way-of-greater-cleveland-partner-to-provide-2-1-1-services/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/united-way-of-toledo-and-united-way-of-greater-cleveland-partner-to-provide-2-1-1-services/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 18:58:51 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5380 United Way of Greater Toledo is partnering with United Way of Greater Cleveland to deliver 2-1-1 services to Toledo-area residents. Starting Monday, August 1, United Way of Greater Cleveland will manage the 2-1-1 service for United Way of Greater Toledo. With the partnership, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s 2-1-1 now serves 26 counties across Ohio, reaching nearly 4 million people.

United Way 2-1-1 is a 24-hour service anyone can use to find, understand and access community resources such as food, housing, employment and health care. By simply dialing 2-1-1 or visiting 211oh.org to chat, people can be connected to a compassionate professional who will help review their options for help, develop a plan and act as an advocate if faced with barriers to service.

The partnership employs staff in the Toledo area to harness local expertise, but utilizes the infrastructure in place at Cleveland’s 2-1-1. The partnership highlights the ability to deliver services locally, retaining 2-1-1’s distinct community-based approach, while taking advantage of the efficiencies of a shared infrastructure.

United Way of Greater Toledo’s Board of Directors determined that contracting 2-1-1 services to United Way of Greater Cleveland would be the most effective use of monetary and staffing resources.

“United Way of Greater Toledo Board of Directors determined that contracting the 2-1-1 services to United Way of Greater Cleveland is the most effective utilization of the organization’s resources, in terms of donor dollars and staff,” said Karen Mathison, United Way of Greater Toledo president and CEO. “By dialing 2-1-1, local callers will continue to be immediately referred to resources that connect them to food, housing, utility assistance and more. United Way 2-1-1 service is available 24/7, 365 days-a-year to residents of Lucas, Wood and Ottawa counties.”

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Carver Summer Learning builds relationships while providing education http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/carver-summer-learning-builds-relationships-while-providing-education/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/carver-summer-learning-builds-relationships-while-providing-education/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 17:50:09 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5330 EDITOR’S NOTE: United Way of Greater Cleveland is emphasizing its strategy to combat summer learning slide among area students. This is the first in a series of stories profiling Summer Learning efforts in local schools.

By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

“Having the Community Wraparound Strategy and the summer program brings in partners that can expose them to other programs that you won’t find in our neighborhood, things that our kids would have never imagined.”
— Tiffany Allen, site coordinator at George Washington Carver School

Tiffany Allen“A mom asked me, ‘What’s my baby going to do over the summer?’” said Tiffany Allen, site coordinator at George Washington Carver School. “I told her about Camp Carver and she said, ‘Everybody needs to know about this,’ and took about 50 of my flyers and literally took it upon herself to go door to door and drop them off.”

Providing Summer Learning for the second year in a row, George Washington Carver’s Camp Carver has students coming from other CMSD schools to take part in its afterschool activities.

Camp Carver provides students with the opportunity to participate in sports, arts and other electives after mandatory summer school, which has increased attendance while providing students a safe place to be while their parents are at work.

Increased attendance

Camp Carver, runs Monday through Friday, after mandated summer school ends. Students from all grade levels have signed up to take part in classes taught by instructors in the community, including tap and hip-hop dance, bucket drumming and yoga.

Summer Learning at CarverSince its introduction, Carver has seen attendance in its mandated summer school go up. While Summer Learning works to prevent summer slide —learning loss that takes place during the summer months — Carver has seen summer gain. Students have caught up to and exceeded their academic level since the end of the school year, rather than falling farther behind, Allen said.

Many of the students are returning to Camp Carver for its second year, Allen said. More than 20 schools are represented across the 96 students enrolled.

Average attendance is 75 students, with children grouped by age for Summer Learning activities. Younger students are escorted to each 30-minute activity. There is also a Girls in STEM program for older students, meant to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Providing this opportunity after summer school allows those kids to have somewhere safe to be,” she said. “Sure, there’s a library, yes there’s community centers, but why not have more? It allows our kids to have more opportunities to be exposed to things and have more safe spaces where they can be in our community.”

Community Wraparound schools

Carver is part of United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Community Wraparound Strategy , which is part of a national movement toward community-centered schools.

“A Community Wraparoud school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources,” according to Coalition for Community Schools, a national alliance of education, development and support agencies. “Its integrated focus on academics, services, supports and opportunities leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.”

George Washington Carver School

Cleveland’s Community Wraparound Strategy places site coordinators in 25 of CMSD’s lowest performing schools to address outside factors that could affect a students’ academic performance or attendance. These factors include housing instability, hunger and health care needs.

United Way of Greater Cleveland supports a site coordinator in each school through a grant provided to the lead agencies. In Carver’s case, Allen was hired by Burton, Bell, Carr Development Inc. — the community development corporation for the Central neighborhood and Carver’s lead agency.

Part of the site coordinator’s job is to broker services for the school and community they serve. Since the strategy’s induction in 2013, the value of services leveraged for wraparound schools has gone from more than $800,000 to $7.1 million in 2015-16, according to United Way of Greater Cleveland and CMSD’s presentation to the Board of Directors June 15.

Summer Learning extends wraparound services for students and the community beyond the academic school year.

“One of the things we know about our community is that it’s very difficult for families to come up with opportunities for their children to be exposed to things that are outside of their community,” Allen, said. “Having the community Wraparound program and the summer program brings in partners that can expose them to other programs that you won’t find in our neighborhood, things that our kids would have never imagined.”

Beyond test scores

Summer Learning goes beyond just raising students test scores and attendance. Allen said they are trying to build relationships where kids and parents are not afraid to ask for help and feel they can depend on one another.

“We’re trying to build relationships with our families where the can reach out when they’re in need,” she said. “We’re not just a school that’s trying to educate your child, we’re trying to build a community environment where we can all lean and depend on each other.”

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Staff Profile: Danielle Wright creates engagement opportunities in communities http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/staff-profile-danielle-wright-creates-engagement-opportunities-in-communities/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/staff-profile-danielle-wright-creates-engagement-opportunities-in-communities/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:07:12 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5324 By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: While we focus on our work in the community and rarely shine a spotlight on ourselves, this series is designed to put faces and names to the great and challenging work United Way does every day.

Danielle Wright photoAn avid high school athlete, Danielle Wright played basketball, softball and field hockey through her senior year of high school. Focusing on academics in college, she got involved in athletic communications, sometimes called sports information. Her office kept statistics on every game, as well as handling public relations, social media and web presence.

She still follows sports, but her role with United Way of Greater Cleveland focuses on much higher stakes.

Starting as a fundraising associate in resource development in August 2015, Wright transitioned to the engagement center in December 2015. Since then, she has worked to coordinate the Day of Action program at United Way of Greater Cleveland.

“I really enjoyed being a [fundraising associate] and doing the fundraising for the workplace campaigns,” she said. “But I really wanted to stay at United Way and I felt that working in the Engagement Center would offer me a better opportunity to stay long-term.”

Companies that run workplace campaigns, or other organizations or companies, that want to do a group volunteering event — be it at a Boys and Girls Club or Wraparound school — come to Wright. She works to coordinate the number of volunteers needed, the time they will be there, and the awareness campaigns that will promote volunteerism at the organizations she works with.

She also works with external volunteers to coordinate opportunities for them, from individuals to groups. She maintains and manages Get Connected, United Way of Greater Cleveland’s volunteer engagement website, which allows volunteers to log their own hours and search for other agencies’ volunteer opportunities.

Residential life

Outside of United Way of Greater Cleveland, Wright works at Gilmour Academy as a residential hall proctor, monitoring resident activities and organizing events.

“I help maintain the building, keep an eye on the kids and run programming in the dorms,” she said. “Part of what I do there is I help run the student leadership council within the dorm.”

The student leadership council sets up community service and engagement activities for residents.

During the school year, Wright works more shifts as a proctor, because there are more residents in the building. During the summer, Gilmour Academy hosts a summer camp with some participants living in the dorm, which Wright helps monitor. Currently, she is proctoring a music camp for high schoolers and young adults.

Musically inclined herself, Wright played the flute from second to ninth grade, a skill she wishes she would have continued to practice.

“I used to play the flute years and years ago,” she said. “But I can’t play by ear and I can’t sing, or anything like that.”

Personal experience

After graduating college, Wright worked at Indiana University in graduate school, before moving on to Clark Atlanta University, Kentucky State University and the University of Cincinnati.

As her career progressed, transitioning to nonprofits fit her interests, melding a background of social services with a passion for coordinating opportunities.

“I was drawn to counseling because of my work in different schools and colleges,” she said. “I started to transition away from collegiate athletics into student services. Once I got into student services, I saw a greater need for different educational programming but also experiential programming — more service learning.”

Having personal experience with nonprofits while living in Kentucky, she gravitated further toward nonprofit work.

“I kind of naturally got involved in nonprofit management,” she said. “My family’s always supported nonprofits; we’ve always given to charity. So I’ve seen a lot of the work [they do], like Ronald McDonald House, and I was familiar with what United Way did as well. Just from personal experience, I was kind of drawn to what nonprofits do for the community.”

Seeing a need

After moving between several states, Wright finalized her transition from athletics to social services while at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky. Always interested in volunteerism, she was responsible for setting up volunteering opportunities for student athletes, but wanted to focus more on nonprofit work.

“Kentucky State offered the opportunity for me to transition [to student services], which made the career change easier,” she said. “After being at Kentucky State for a little bit, I moved back to Ohio and started working at a private school in Akron. The opportunity to work at United Way came and I was familiar with United Way, so I knew what they were about and I knew that I ultimately wanted to do more nonprofit management, student services, education, things like that.

“My closest friends are all counselors, they’re teachers,” she said. “So I really saw and continue to see the need for more community based programming, that answers the issues involved with education, with someone’s socioeconomic status, and that stuff has always interested me. I wanted to do more to get back to focusing on that.”

Behind the scenes

An’Tuan Williams has worked at United Way of Greater Cleveland for one year. A community conversation associate, Williams helps bridge the gap between grassroots and faith-based organizations goals and a community’s needs.

Williams began working with Wright in the winter on a “Warm Hearts, Warm Coats” drive and has continued to work with her for the past six months. They worked together to coordinate donation locations on the city’s east and west sides, as well as work with individual organizations like Cleveland Public Library and the Cleveland Fire Department to engage volunteers and donors.

Because it was Williams’ and Wright’s first time working together, he described her as quiet, but a good team member to work with. Since then, they have continued to collaborate on another Day of Action.

“Danielle is really the type of coworker who you can rely on,” he said. “So let’s say you’re out in the field and you need to get something done, she’ll say ‘Oh, I can do that for you.’ [She’s] doing the work behind the scenes and that accounts for so much and that’s something that doesn’t get measured. And that’s something important. Work behind the scenes is huge.”

Shenise Johnson-Thomas, director of Community Engagement, has been working with Wright for the past six months as well. Recommended for her current position by Human Resources, Johnson-Thomas hired Wright for her background in event and volunteer coordinating and organization.

“Danielle is excellent to work with,” Johnson-Thomas said. “She possesses a can-do attitude and great charisma. She goes above and beyond what is required of her job which is definitely a sign of a solid employee. She’s charismatic, friendly, diligent and committed.”

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Young Leaders and the power of Millennials http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/young-leaders-and-the-power-of-millennials/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/young-leaders-and-the-power-of-millennials/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 14:04:39 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5317 By Megan Shadrach, Associate, Affinity & Engagement, United Way of Greater Cleveland

Megan ShadrachBeing a young professional and working with a large network of young professionals across Cleveland can be an empowering experience. Young professionals have the curiosity to create positive change and think innovatively to help advance the work place and their community. Millennials are often thought to be know-it-alls, but I beg to differ. From my experience, Millennials are the exact opposite. We know that we don’t know everything, but we aren’t afraid to try something new and switch things up to make improvements.

Like many growing cities, Cleveland is overflowing with young professionals who are eager to make their community a better, stronger, well-rounded community to live in. The United Way Young Leaders affinity group focuses its work on minimizing the low-income achievement gap in Greater Cleveland. This group of young professionals works to identify and create opportunities for other emerging leaders to get their hands dirty, raise funds for the community and meet other likeminded individuals.

Being a young professional in this group has taught me quite a bit. Here are six key things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Young professionals want to make a difference, but they want to do it quickly. Provide resources to help make this happen.
  2. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be – simplicity is bliss. Simplifying processes will help make a large impact. Less truly is more.
  3. Provide your audience choice, but not too much. A constructive menu of options will help guide your vision and goals.
  4. Fail fast and fail often; mistakes aren’t bad if you recognize and learn from them. If you aren’t afraid to fail, the sooner you will succeed and reach your goals.
  5. Create a meaningful and impactful experience by listening to your audience and giving them opportunities to do what they want.
  6. Don’t let the Millennial stereotypes stand in your way – Complete a volunteer project with your friends or co-workers and meet up for happy hour afterwards because –  well, you deserve it

As the city continues to develop in 2016, we have many generations to thank. The young professionals in Cleveland cannot be overlooked as contributing to the impact our city and community is experiencing. Cleveland is lucky to have such passionate, energetic and innovative individuals working to make a difference here each day and I’m happy to be one of them!

Our Young Leaders group is in full swing with a packed calendar of volunteer opportunities and special events. Interested in learning more or stepping up for the community? Sign up here.

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Broadway-Slavic Village program recognized for efforts to stabilize low-income families http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/broadway-slavic-village-program-recognized-for-efforts-to-stabilize-low-income-families/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/broadway-slavic-village-program-recognized-for-efforts-to-stabilize-low-income-families/#respond Thu, 21 Jul 2016 18:50:43 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5292 By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

The Broadway P-16 program in the Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood was recognized for its efforts to provide families with financial stability to boost academic performance. It is a collaborative effort between several organizations, which convene under the guidance of the Third Federal Foundation, and intersect with several United Way of Greater Cleveland programs.
Slavic Village Development

Playing a part in Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) “Plan for Transforming Schools,” organizations such as Cleveland Housing Network collaborate to lower student mobility.

It is based on an effort organized by the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, which collects school ratings and provides resources for parents to choose the best schools for their children, as well as measuring CMSD’s progress. P-16 also connects with United Way of Greater Cleveland’s wraparound strategy, as it supports two schools implementing the strategy – Fullerton School of Academics and Mound.

The wraparound strategy places an on-site resource coordinator at 25 CMSD schools. This coordinator works to address social problems impacting a student’s academic performance and connect families to community resources.


P-16 connects several support agencies together, including the Literacy Cooperative, Slavic Village Development Corp., Boys & Girls Club and Cleveland Housing Network’s Family Stability Initiative.

Recognition comes for the Broadway P-16 Program, now in its fifth year, boosting student success from kindergarten to college. At Fullerton, a wraparound kindergarten-through-eighth school, an article recognized the steps that Cleveland Housing Network’s Family Stability Initiative took to keep a family in their home, from helping with rent to providing resources towards stable employment.

The Family Stability Initiative is designed to reduce student mobility by providing families with support towards financial stability. This program is supported in part by United Way’s Community Impact income strategy – designed to help families break the poverty cycle and attain financial stability by securing stable employment and managing and saving money.

The Family Stability Initiative provides resources to struggling families including help with rent payment, employment opportunities and connecting them to wider support networks.

The P-16 program is specific to the Broadway-Slavic Village neighborhood, but combines organizations and efforts across the city to stabilize families.


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UCP allocation funds empowerment opportunities for disabled adults, children http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/ucp-allocation-funds-empowerment-opportunities-for-disabled-adults-children/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/ucp-allocation-funds-empowerment-opportunities-for-disabled-adults-children/#respond Wed, 20 Jul 2016 13:23:56 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5284 By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Greater Cleveland recently received funding allocations from United Way of Greater Cleveland to support its family-based case management and employment services for individuals with disabilities.

Operating for more than 65 years, UCP of Greater Cleveland provides services to individuals with a wide range of disabilities, not limited to cerebral palsy. The agency serves more than 1,000 children and adults throughout Northeast Ohio each year.


Services are divided into two parts, Leafbridge, which provides services for children, newborn to age 22, and Oakleaf, which is dedicated to improving the lives of adults with disabilities through maximizing function, independence and quality of life.

United Way of Greater Cleveland allocated $127,616 to the agency for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which will support LeafBridge case management services and OakLeaf Partners employment services.

LeafBridge is the agency’s founding department and has remained at the heart of its mission since its inception serving over 500 children annually. Working as a team, licensed physical, and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and social workers collaborate with parents to design treatment programs that will promote their child’s development in all areas of health and wellness.

“As a part of children’s services we offer — thanks to United Way — case management services that support all of the therapies children are given,” said Trish Otter, president and CEO of UCP of Greater Cleveland. “So that sets us apart from [a] therapy unit of a hospital or other organizations. When a family of a child with a disability walks into UCP, we serve the family very holistically.”
“Our approach [is] ‘Yes, your child needs occupational or speech therapy, but what do you need as a family in order to overcome all of the other obstacles that you’re dealing with?’” she said.

Oakleaf provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including an in-house job training center and community-based employment opportunities.

UCP of Greater Cleveland has contracts with several companies, providing work opportunities at their main building for individuals who need higher levels of assistance. Those working in the workshop are paid piece-rate, and can perform jobs including sorting plastic parts for the Ford plant, shredding secure documents or packaging Christmas mailings.

UCP Employee's Working with Child

United Way of Greater Cleveland funds support the community-based employment programs at UCP of Greater Cleveland. This service helps individuals find and retain jobs in the community through job readiness, coaching and placement. Participating employers include Cleveland Clinic, Heart to Heart Pet Grooming, Oatey Company, Forest City, and PNC Bank.

“We are serving more people every year,” Otter said. “And that leads to more becoming employed and becoming self-sufficient, not having to be dependent on their families, government funding or both.”

While these are separate departments at UCP of Greater Cleveland, Oakleaf and Leafbridge do share some staff and work together to make sure major transitions for clients go smoothly, such as transitioning from school to work. The departments also offer assistive technology services, which provide assistive technology assessments and training to help children and adult clients access the world around them.

Paul Clark, who serves on United Way of Greater Cleveland and UCP of Greater Cleveland’s boards, commends the relationship the two organizations have.

“As a board member of both United Way of Greater Cleveland and UCP of Greater Cleveland, I have personally witnessed the tremendous impact of United Way dollars on those served in the community,” Clark said. “Families with children with developmental disabilities benefit greatly from LeafBridge’s case management services, thanks to United Way.  Oakleaf’s adult clients seeking job training and placement receive the necessary and very individualized services they require in order to obtain employment and to find their place in the community.  These unique services offered by UCP’s Centers of Excellence make a tremendous difference in the lives of those served and would not be possible without the support of United Way.”

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Now is the time, do your part. http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/now-is-the-time-do-your-part/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/now-is-the-time-do-your-part/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 17:56:32 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5279 By Martina Pace, Relationship Manager, United Way of Greater Cleveland

Martina Pace, Relationship ManagerI write this with various emotions that range from heartbreak, anger, sadness and eagerness.

Heartbreak for the officers killed in Dallas and most recently in Baton Rouge.

Heartbreak for the unbearable videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

And heartbreak thinking of others such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown and our community’s own Tamir Rice.

Anger at the issues such as poverty and violence that disproportionately plague communities of color. Sadness for the families who have lost their fathers and bothers. And eagerness to break down barriers, dismantle issues of generational poverty. And a desire to shake those who somehow feel they are not a part of the problem.

Many of us chose to work at nonprofits in part because we want to make a difference, we believe in opportunities for all and we believe in the pursuit of social justice. With all the emotions we are feeling, we must not lose hope. We must be change agents and lead the bridge to garner communication and understanding which has been the cause of so much strife and violence we have witnessed in our country.

It’s time for us to stop pointing the finger outwardly and point it inward. We must ask ourselves what are we doing to help! I urge us all to turn our fear, anger and heartbreak into a powerful-positive action, understanding and collaboration. It’s time for us to get off the sideline and get in the game. It’s time for us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change.

Live United: It’s the slogan United Way’s across the country use. It is the core of our mission and needs to be engrained in the hearts and actions of all at a time like this. To Live United means coming together to improve our community. To Live United is as simple as becoming a part of the efforts to improve our community and working together to create a better life for ALL.

Without question, United Way’s investments have helped thousands of our community members, but my question today is what are you doing personally to Live United? It is time that we ALL do our part and be a part of the solution.

It’s time that we turn our heartbreak into action. The hope for our community and our nation lies within us. So do something! We must all figure out what we can do to effect change and DO IT!

Use this as a call to action. Change is uncomfortable. Talking about race can be difficult and awkward. But we need to start talking about it without fear. Only then can we get to the society we aspire to live in. A community where we all Live United.

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Young Leaders provide workforce insights at LEAP course http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/young-leaders-provide-workforce-insights-at-leap-course/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/young-leaders-provide-workforce-insights-at-leap-course/#respond Tue, 19 Jul 2016 16:45:14 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5270 By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

United Way of Greater Cleveland Young Leaders (YL) is expanding volunteer opportunities, with cabinet members sharing their insight at LEAP, July 5 and 11.

Linking Employment, Abilities, Potential (LEAP) is a social service and advocacy organization that connects disabled individuals with jobs, training and benefit programs. As a federally recognized center for independent living, LEAP provides resources allowing those with physical and mental handicaps to live independently. The service has four concentrations: independence, employment, youth transition and community.

“It’s possible, regardless of your disability, to live in the community, and work in above minimum-wage jobs,” said Melanie Hogan, executive director of LEAP.
The YL presentations are part of a required workforce readiness course for 15-to-19-year-olds. Participants must take this course before they can start their 20 hour-per-week summer job placements.

“The purpose is to have guest speakers from [various professions] help students realize skills needed on the job,” said Megan Shadrach, United Way’s associate of affinity and engagement.

Shadrach and YL cabinet members Allison Taller Reich, a construction law attorney at Frantz Ward LLP, and Yasmeen Muhammad, a portfolio management associate and co-chair for KeyBank’s YL chapter, shared their insight on social media and networking July 5.

Topics included appropriate profile pictures, an introduction to LinkedIn and how to network. Of the 12 students in attendance, many were seniors or recent graduates from local high schools. LEAP’s summer program will place approximately 80 youth workers in more than 15 job sites, Hogan said.

Reich and Muhammad chose networking as their topic because it was something they were comfortable talking about, Muhammad said. “[Networking] is something that me and Allison both do a lot of, so I felt like that might be a good opportunity to let [the students] know some things that I would have wanted to know when I was their age.”

Reich organized the presentation that accompanied the talk, including its focus on social media.

“I wanted to give positive and negative examples and how to do social media the right way for networking,” Reich said. “Networking is a totally different animal and you have to learn it by doing. With social media, I think there are pretty clear guidelines about what’s appropriate and what’s not. It’s more about awareness and what they’re putting out there in the universe that could negatively affect their status later for employment, school or scholarships and awards.”

While this is LEAP’s first time working with members of the YL program, it has an ongoing collaboration with United Way which funds programs within LEAP’s employment and youth transition concentrations.

The Young Leaders returned to LEAP Monday, July 11 with a presentation and activity on teamwork.

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Staff Profile: Cheryl Parzych transitions to nonprofit sector with United Way of Medina County http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/staff-profile-cheryl-parzych-transitions-to-nonprofit-sector-with-united-way-of-medina-county/ http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/blog/staff-profile-cheryl-parzych-transitions-to-nonprofit-sector-with-united-way-of-medina-county/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 18:30:02 +0000 http://www.unitedwaycleveland.org/?p=5262 By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: While we focus on our work in the community and rarely shine a spotlight on ourselves, this series is designed to put faces and names to the great and challenging work United Way does every day.

Lifelong banker Cheryl Parzych has been director of United Way of Medina County for less than a year.

From arts and preservation boards to working on a foundation to serve women, girls and people with disabilities, she continually kept one foot in philanthropy as her professional career progressed.

A lot to learn

Cheryl Parzych CEO of Media United WayThrough her volunteer work, Parzych said she learned of the issues communities face, and is now able to make informed decisions because of that experience.

“As an individual who is involved, it changes your perspective,” she said. “There’s a lot to learn, and you grow as a person. The more you do, the more valuable you are to your community because you become more informed and can contribute with an experienced perspective.”

She said she has learned the state of Medina County and the people she serves, including what services it needs. For Medina, early childhood and youth services are a large part of United Way’s Community Impact strategy.

In her leadership position, she said she has learned the importance of having of organized staff when trying to reach a goal, and the need to bring resources together to make the greatest impact in the community.

“I learned the importance of shooting for a target … What’s reasonable, how do we approach it and how do we address things in an organized way?” she said. “Who are the other people in the community that are interested in a particular issue and how can you collaborate rather than having to invent everything that’s already happening?”

Passion for connections

As a senior vice president and chief fiduciary officer of Key Bank for seven years, Parzych just recently made a professional shift to the nonprofit world.

Working in wealth management, her job included building relationships and making families successful in achieving their future goals. Her position at United Way of Medina is similar, but now she is working to help a whole community succeed.

“It was just a point in my career when I could make a transition,” she said. “And I began to think about it seriously and network in the nonprofit community to see where my skills could transfer. United Way seemed to be a good place to do that — very broad reach across the community, a wide array of interests.”

Making a home

Describing herself as a “homebody,” Parzych said she and her husband, Brian, enjoy spending time working on their home in Medina.

Growing up in a Victorian-style house in New York, she credits it with her passion for Redecorating and “revamping” her current home.

Outside her home and work, Parzych enjoys traveling. She and her husband hold dual citizenship with Ireland, where they visit regularly.

Working relationship

Drew Hall, director of Resource Development at United Way of Medina County, has worked with Parzych since she started there. He credits her with reaching outside of Medina County, into Wadsworth and Brunswick.

“She’s a very perceptive person,” he said. “She understands the relationships that we need to be nurturing, to move our work forward and she’s not hesitant to reach out to folks here … and have conversations with people that we’ve struggled traditionally to get in front of.”

Ryan Carlson, United Way of Medina County Board of Trustees chairman, said Parzych was hired for her years of leadership in the public and private sectors.

“Cheryl has an emotional intelligence about her that few individuals have,” he said. “She’s very organized, she understands that sometimes things need to be a process, she understands when things need to be set up and it’s been a really good working relationship.

“I have always respected Cheryl’s ability to have her pulse on a number of things at the same time, yet somehow know what we need to do first in order to start moving things in the right direction.”

Having moved to the Community Impact agenda before Parzych started at United Way of Medina County, Carlson said the board looks to her to continue focusing resources to move the organization to the forefront of Medina’s service sector.

“We want her to position United Way as Medina County’s premier resource to solve problems and have impactful change,” he said. “And she gets that, we have tasked her with trying to best understand what the county truly needs from us.”

Parzych said United Way of Medina County’s Community Impact agendas for income, health and education are making a change in the community.

“I believe that one person definitely can make a difference,” she said. “The more you do, the more valuable you are to your community, as you become more informed.”

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