The following are true stories of how agencies in the local area have been impacted by United Way dollars.
Groceries to Go
Groceries to Go volunteer T. Smith was subdued, even shy in nature while bringing him to meet his first client… a kindly gentleman in his late 90’s. The two men took to each other almost instantly, recalling people and places in common. After Mr. Smith and I left the volunteer’s home, he told me, “I was very apprehensive about this. But I think it’s going to work out.” And work out it did! For nearly three years, the two men regularly met, with Mr. Smith driving, helping in the grocery aisles and unloading/hauling bags for the elderly man
Sadly, Mr. Smith had to end his volunteer assignment due to health reasons and was genuinely concerned that we find another volunteer to help his client, and now friend. Upon visiting with the elderly man, he said the match was “meant to be.” Both men’s wives had died a few short months prior to their G2G meeting and two became a valuable support system to one another. Food or personal care items may be the primary reason for G2G, but the support and friendship made along the way, is as nurturing to the spirit as food is to the body… for RSVP volunteer and client!
The Summer Food Service Program
The Summer Food Service Program is a nationally funded program as part of the National School Lunch Program that was designed to fill the hunger gap and provide healthy, nutritious meals to all children in the community when school is out. This program encourages non-profit organizations in under-served areas to provide free meals to all children age 0-18 on a first come, first serve basis. The Crookston Public School District began the Eat United Summer Food Service Program in June of 2015 with the financial aid of the USDA and the United Way of Crookston. Eat United has continued to expand within the last four summers to provide tasteful, nutrient-dense food to an increasing number of children at two separate open locations in Crookston. From summer 2015-2018, the Eat United Summer Food Service Program has served 16,623 free meals to children in the Crookston community as well as 462 meals to paying adults. Summer of 2018 was the programs best summer to date, serving on average over 140 free meals to children each day. The success of this program is due to a number of organizations working together for the betterment of the community.
Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons’
Overcoming a fear is one of the most challenging tasks a child can face, especially when your fear has big brown eyes, four legs and is a lot taller than you! At Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons’ Giddy-Up Camp this summer, one girl in particular was determined she could ONLY ride a pony – not a horse towering over her. Knowing this is a common reaction, the staff at the UMN Crookston Stable began the day in the horse barn, where the Girl Scouts from the Crookston area had the chance to meet the horses up close and learn about their habits and behaviors. Ask any good horseback rider her secret to success and she’ll say that understanding a horse is as important as learning to ride one. As the girls became more familiar with the horses, UMN Crookston staff then helped each one get ready to ride – many for the first time. “It’s heartwarming to see how this girl overcame her fear of horses through this experience today,’’ stated Girl Scout staff, watching her and other girls gain courage and confidence. Giddy Up Camp was made possible through the Girl Scout agency’s partnership with United Way. Funding received from the United Way provides out-of-school time learning experiences for girls in kindergarten through 12th grades. Because of the funds received from the United Way, Girl Scouts in the Crookston area are exploring new opportunities, building life skills and exhibiting their leadership as they make the world a better place. Like the girl riding a horse for the first time, girls develop skills they will use a lifetime, preparing them for future success.
Villa St. Vincent
The cloud of grey surrounding those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s can be unrelenting. It can feel like another world with unknown faces speaking confusing messages, surroundings that are not the family home… strangers seem to abound. Sometimes the only solution is to get up, go, and quickly attempt to find the familiar. At times those journeys are precarious, unexpected and can lead to a fall for the senior, which may have a devastating impact on the health and wellness of the most vulnerable. Yet our inner beings seem to never forget the love felt by a special pet from years gone by, the wonder of an animal who loves unconditionally. United Way of Crookston supported a myriad of tools to help prevent falls at Villa St. Vincent. The robotic dogs and cats have provided many moments of calming peace. As kitten’s “purr and breath” on a still lap, or a puppy “turns to look towards a voice or gentle petting hand”…resident memories awaken with joyful reminisce.