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Why Giving Matters

Why does giving to the United Way matter? Read these stories from people who benefit from your gift to see how you are helping in your community.

You help connect people in need with job opportunities.

Hi, I’m Tanesha! Last summer I moved my three young children—ages nine, four, and three—to Ithaca from Milwaukee to escape an abusive environment. I always had a strong work ethic—I’m used to working two jobs at a time—but starting over in a brand new place meant that I needed some help connecting with local employment opportunities. The Department of Social Services referred me to Challenge Workforce Solutions to participate in Job Club—a six-week program of career exploration and job search assistance. At the end of the program, I landed a hosting position at Monk’s, a cocktail bar on the Commons. I love my job and my coworkers, and my kids are settling in great, too. Challenge Workforce Solutions and United Way of Tompkins County helped make this transition a success.

Hi, I’m Rachel! Two years ago, I came to Challenge Workforce Solutions to participate in a program called Pathway to Employment, a program that helps people with disabilities to get ready to work a job in the community. I got training in all kinds of important skills like transportation, workplace communication, and stress management. But the best thing was that I got to do work trials at a bunch of different job sites. I did packaging at the Food Hub and worked as a dining attendant at Ithaca College—but what I liked best was working with seniors at Cayuga Nursing and Longview. I learned how to socialize with the residents, have a big smile, and help them out. Then, this summer, I was offered a permanent job at Longview! I really like it—and I like knowing that Challenge is still there to support me.

You help provide nutritious meals to the elderly.

My name is Betty.  I am 70 years old. I want to buy my own food, but I can’t drive to the grocery store and I can’t stand long enough to prepare a meal. I was hospitalized because I broke my hip and then I developed pneumonia. My recovery has taken a long time and when I returned to my home, I found that I needed help. I was able to walk around with a walker and do simple household tasks, but I couldn’t drive and I wasn’t up to cooking for myself. Since my fall, I found that I worried all the time that it will happen again and that no one would be here to help me. My doctor told me that eating nutritious meals is one of the keys to my recovery and suggested Foodnet Meals on Wheels.  Each day my Foodnet driver delivers my meal right to my door with a smile and makes sure that I’m doing alright. The hot meal and friendly visit with the driver is something to look forward to each day. The weekend meals are easy to reheat in my microwave and the sandwiches make a great snack later in the evening. I also get to meet with Foodnet’s dietitian.  She suggested a personal emergency response system because of my recent fall and made the phone calls to get it set up.  I don’t know if I will always need these services, but for now, I know that I am not alone.

My name is Charles.  Next month, I will be 85 years old. I’ve lived alone for the past few years since my wife of 55 years passed. For the most part, I do alright on my own, but I sure do miss my wife…she was the love of my life. The house doesn’t feel the same without her. My daughter wants me to move to be closer to her, but I can’t leave my home; everything I know is here. The last time I visited my physician, the staff said I looked thinner. I had lost 35 pounds since my last doctor visit! The doctor said I needed to eat more and try to gain weight.  His nurse called Foodnet Meals on Wheels and the next day, a registered dietitian came to see me in my home.  She discussed my food preferences and helped me come up with a plan to eat more calories and high protein foods. I also told her I was concerned about the approaching winter months and being able to heat my house.  She contacted the Office for Aging, who signed me up for the heating assistance program. For the first time in a long time, it feels like I’m going to be able to stay in my home, which is where I want to be.

You help provide essential support services and programs to youth.

I was living on my own after my Mom died when I was a junior in high school. I didn’t have a dad— he left us when I was young. I was graduating high school last January and didn’t know that as soon as I graduated my Mom’s social security benefits would end because I wasn’t in school. That money paid my rent. My Aunt didn’t have room for me and didn’t have the money to help. I found The Learning Web and they helped me with food pantries, applying for food stamps, and talking to Social Security. I want to be a bookkeeper and I was able to do an apprenticeship with an accountant where I learned about bookkeeping. I also was very depressed and anxious and The Learning Web helped me connect with a support group with other teens. It turned out I was wrong about my Social security and I have enough money to pay rent.  My mentor is a close adult friend that gives me support and The Learning Web connected me with WorkForce NY Joblink youth program so that I could continue working and making money. Learning Web also helped me visit TC3 to learn about college. I am now a freshman at TC3 and live in the dorms.  Maybe one day I can work for my mentor!

My name is Kayla.  I was 13 when I was in The Learning Web and I hated school. I’m currently a Ph.D. student in neuroscience in the process of applying for an NIH grant. While listing my previous research experience, I got to thinking about the wonderful apprenticeships I had with the Learning Web. I helped out Rick Kline at the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility at Cornell, and then I helped out Dr. Raphael Littauer at the Wilson Synchrotron. Both of my mentors were extraordinarily kind, helpful and patient with me, and Dr. Littauer even helped me get into college at MIT by writing a letter of recommendation. Rick Kline invited me to the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility to see live footage of a spacecraft launch in the middle of the night — just about the coolest thing I ever did as a 13-year-old. And among the many amazing things I was able to experience at the Synchrotron is writing a program to control the particle beam, and being allowed to accompany Dr. Littauer into the beam tunnel to investigate a problem with the equipment— very exciting! Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful program.

Starting out in The Learning Web’s housing program I had a couple of bags that belonged to me, but now I am graduating with a whole house full of belongings. This is amazing to see what I have built over a year’s time! I never really had a home like other kids and I never had my own stuff. My Dad has never been in the picture. I love my Mom but not some of the people she sees. I’ve lived in a bunch of foster homes and group homes. I ended up in the shelter and learned about The Learning Web. I was able to get a spot in their Housing Scholarship Program.  I got an apartment that had furniture and all of the kitchen stuff and sheets and everything I needed. It was the first place I could really call a home. They helped me make money with an apprenticeship at a garage. I liked it a lot and have been able to find a job fixing cars. I was able to save money for a security deposit for a place of my own. They helped me find an apartment that I can afford on my own and I was able to take all of the furniture and stuff to my new place.  I learned a lot over my time in The Learning Web and I still get help when I need them. I have a better relationship with my Mom, and I don’t live out of a couple of bags!

I am Marty’s mental health caseworker and I wanted to let you know how I appreciate your work with Marty. His experience made him feel like he was something. At age 14, it’s not easy for any teen, but Marty had trouble with academics and pretty serious mental health issues. His family struggles to make ends meet and really doesn’t have the skills to help Marty. It was so great that you really “got” Marty: keying into his love of farming, and being willing to approach the farm he wanted to work at to see if Marty could apprentice with them was incredible. Marty did so well at his apprenticeship and he has such a great relationship with his mentors—they’ve become friends! I’m so impressed that they hired him a couple of hours a week after the apprenticeship ended. They offer him much needed role modeling and support. He has gained much-needed confidence, self-esteem, and new skills through that apprenticeship and it is invaluable going forward as Marty deals with all of the issues in his life.