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  11. <title>United Way of Berks County</title>
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  14. <description>Providing Help, Hope and Opportunity</description>
  15. <lastBuildDate>Wed, 20 Dec 2023 17:54:08 +0000</lastBuildDate>
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  29. <item>
  30. <title>ELU Bettering Berks in 2023</title>
  31. <link></link>
  32. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  33. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Dec 2023 21:11:47 +0000</pubDate>
  34. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  35. <category><![CDATA[News and Events]]></category>
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  43. <div class="header-content">
  44. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">ELU Bettering Berks in 2023</h1>
  45. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  46. </div>
  47. </div>
  48. </div>
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  56. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>ELU members participated in unique opportunities in December to spread holiday cheer to Berks County.</p>
  57. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  58. <h6>In December ELU members:</h6>
  59. <ul>
  60. <li>Collected gifts benefitting students who work with United Way Agency Partner <a href="">Communities in Schools (CIS)</a>.</li>
  61. <li>Partnered with <a href="">Youth Volunteer Corps</a> to host a holiday fun evening for the residents of<a href=""> Dayspring Homes</a>.</li>
  62. <li>Put on our ugliest holiday sweaters to wrap the collected gifts from CIS for a fun social at 3rd and Spruce Drafthaus.</li>
  63. <li>Hosted our annual holiday party for the Oakbrook <a href="">Olivet Boys and Girls Club</a> kiddos with Reading Truck.</li>
  64. </ul>
  65. <h6>Throughout the year YOU have:</h6>
  66. <ul>
  67. <li>Participated in close to 40 opportunities, with more than half of them being volunteer-focused initiatives.</li>
  68. <li>Partnered with Olivet Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hope Rescue Mission, FREE (Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved), Tri-Valley YMCA, Claire House, Literacy Council, Lighthouse, Oakbrook Community Gardens, Rock Hollow Woods, and many more.</li>
  69. <li>Collected over 1,100 personal care items for individuals and families impacted by domestic violence.</li>
  70. <li>Raised over $1,000 for <a href="">Ready.Set.READ!</a> by participating in our inaugural Kickball Tournament.</li>
  71. </ul>
  72. <p><strong>Additional highlights from the year were:</strong></p>
  73. <ul>
  74. <li>Partnering with ELU Cabinet Member Amanda Funk, Director of the Widoktadwen Center for Native Knowledge, to forage for food with Big Brothers Big Sisters COUL Club.</li>
  75. <li>Hosting a Taco Tuesday-themed meal for the families at Safe Berks.</li>
  76. <li>Providing lunch to ELU members while learning about the work of Cafe Esperanza and the impact they are having in our community.</li>
  77. <li>Hosting virtual sessions educating about the work of New Journey Community Outreach, Barrio Alegria, and the work of United Way of Berks County in the area of ALICE.</li>
  78. </ul>
  79. <p>Thank you for the impact YOU made in 2023 ELU! We cannot wait to see what you will do in 2024.</p>
  80. <p>&nbsp;</p></div>
  81. </div>
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  99. </div>
  100. </div></p>The post <a href="">ELU Bettering Berks in 2023</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  101. </item>
  102. <item>
  103. <title>A Message from Sidney Purnell</title>
  104. <link></link>
  105. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  106. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Dec 2023 21:10:10 +0000</pubDate>
  107. <category><![CDATA[ELU Member Spotlight]]></category>
  108. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  110. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  111. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_5 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  112. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_1 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
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  115. <div class="header-content">
  116. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">A Message from Sidney Purnell</h1>
  117. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  118. </div>
  119. </div>
  120. </div>
  121. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_overlay"></div>
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  123. </section>
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  128. <span class="et_pb_image_wrap "><img fetchpriority="high" decoding="async" width="800" height="800" src="" alt="Woman looking at camera and smiling" title="Sidney Purnell" srcset=" 800w, 480w" sizes="(min-width: 0px) and (max-width: 480px) 480px, (min-width: 481px) 800px, 100vw" class="wp-image-9292" /></span>
  129. </div>
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  131. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_1  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  132. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>Sidney Purnell has served as an ELU Cabinet member since 2019 and assumed the role of ELU Cabinet Chair in 2021, after serving as ELU Vice Chair. As Sidney’s tenure comes to an end, we express our gratitude for her leadership and the positive impact she has had in Berks County. Sidney has generously shared her insights and enthusiasm for ELU in 2024. </p>
  133. <p>&#8220;It’s been an honor and privilege to lead the ELU Cabinet these past years. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to have served our community through a variety of service projects and initiatives that benefited so many members of Berks County. I’m particularly proud of our work in Nolde Forest during the pandemic years, where we spent many hours maintaining trails while enjoying the many benefits of working in nature. I’m also thankful for our work with youth mentoring events with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berks County and Olivet’s Boys &amp; Girls Club.</p>
  134. <p>I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work alongside so many amazing individuals who share the goal of serving our Berks County community and building a brighter future for all. It’s been a true privilege getting to know so many wonderful ELU members throughout my term as Cabinet Chair and I look forward to continuing to volunteer with ELU in this next chapter under Cassandra and Anna’s leadership.&#8221;</p>
  135. <p data-pm-slice="1 1 &#091;&#093;">We thank you again Sidney for your leadership! Additionally, we are thrilled to welcome Cassandra Weidner as the new ELU Cabinet Chair and Anna Spangler as our Cabinet Vice Chair. We eagerly anticipate continuing our collaborative efforts in the coming year!</p>
  136. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  137. <p>&nbsp;</p></div>
  138. </div>
  139. </div>
  140. </div>
  141. </div></p>The post <a href="">A Message from Sidney Purnell</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  142. </item>
  143. <item>
  144. <title>United Way Surpasses $11 Million in 2023 Campaign</title>
  145. <link></link>
  146. <dc:creator><![CDATA[uwbcadmin]]></dc:creator>
  147. <pubDate>Wed, 15 Nov 2023 23:54:18 +0000</pubDate>
  148. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  149. <category><![CDATA[News and Events]]></category>
  150. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  152. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  153. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_7 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  154. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_2 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
  155. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_container center">
  156. </div>
  157. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_overlay"></div>
  158. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_scroll"></div>
  159. </section>
  160. </div><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_8 et_section_regular" >
  161. <div class="et_pb_row et_pb_row_5">
  162. <div class="et_pb_column et_pb_column_4_4 et_pb_column_7  et_pb_css_mix_blend_mode_passthrough et-last-child">
  163. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_2  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  164. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><h2>THANK YOU, BERKS COUNTY!</h2>
  165. <p>In an outstanding show of support, Berks Countians surpassed our $11 million goal to contribute <strong>$11,113,813</strong> to the 2023 Campaign.</p>
  166. <p>John and Karen Arnold, who co-chaired this year&#8217;s campaign, shared their appreciation at our Victory Celebration. &#8220;When we work together, we can do meaningful and impactful things. It takes businesses, donors, volunteers and partners  – all of us working together. When we do that well, we all benefit,&#8221; they said. &#8220;We share our gratitude with each one of you who care deeply about this community and are part of the United Way family.  Together, we make good go further.&#8221;</p>
  167. <p>&#8220;Each one of our donors is a source of inspiration,&#8221; said Tammy White, United Way President. &#8220;By supporting United Way, they turn their compassion into action, and we are so grateful.&#8221;</p>
  168. <p>All dollars raised in the 2023 Campaign will support health and human service needs in the coming year, impacting 190,000 local people.</div>
  169. </div><div class="et_pb_module et_pb_code et_pb_code_0">
  170. <div class="et_pb_code_inner"><h5>Incentive Winners</h5>
  171. <p>In addition to learning the results of this year's campaign, some lucky donors also learned that they are winners of the 2023 Campaign incentives. The winners are:</p>
  172. <ul>
  173. <li><strong>Brand new Corolla Cross, courtesy of Kelly Auto Group, the Live United Partners and the Premier Sponsors:</strong> Anna Ismond-McFarlane</li>
  174.  <li><strong>$2,000 Travel Voucher, courtesy of AAA Travel:</strong> Christopher Schlegel</li>
  175.  <li><strong>One of two $500 Boscov's Gift Cards, courtesy of Boscov's Department Stores:</strong> Susan Belfer and Richard J. Schlamowitz</li>
  176.  <li><strong>$1,500 Gas Card, courtesy of Rhoads Energy:</strong> Kevin Moran</li>
  177.  <li><strong>3-Minute Shopping Spree, courtesy of Redner's Fresh Market:</strong> Stephanie Godek</li>
  178.  <li><strong>Lifestyle Item valued at $575, courtesy of Lasting Image, a TSC Company:</strong> Jesse Ryan Weaver</li>
  179.  <li><strong>$500 Visa Gift Card, courtesy of Visions Federal Credit Union:</strong> Troy Loeb</li>
  180.  <li><strong>One of five Godiva Gift Baskets, courtesy of Godiva Chocolatiers:</strong> Clayton Mitchell, Dora Smith, David Muentes, Ioana Pancu and Michael Unger </li>
  181. </ul></div>
  182. </div>
  183. </div>
  184. </div>
  185. </div></p>The post <a href="">United Way Surpasses $11 Million in 2023 Campaign</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  186. </item>
  187. <item>
  188. <title>A Gift Collection for Communities in Schools Students</title>
  189. <link></link>
  190. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  191. <pubDate>Thu, 26 Oct 2023 18:56:07 +0000</pubDate>
  192. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  193. <category><![CDATA[News and Events]]></category>
  194. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  196. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  197. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_9 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
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  202. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">A Gift Collection for Communities in Schools Students</h1>
  203. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  204. </div>
  205. </div>
  206. </div>
  207. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_overlay"></div>
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  209. </section>
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  213. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_3  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  214. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>Join us in spreading holiday cheer to students at <a href="">Communities in Schools of Eastern PA</a> (CIS), a United Way <a href="">Agency Partner</a>. CIS offers integrated student support and services to enhance attendance, behavior, and academic performance for Reading School District students. We&#8217;re gathering gifts suitable for various age groups, using the gift list below. Gifts can be purchased for kids of all ages (elementary through high school) and all genders.</p>
  215. <ul>
  216. <li>Water bottles</li>
  217. <li>Gift cards</li>
  218. <li>Winter Gloves, hats, scarves</li>
  219. <li>Socks</li>
  220. <li>Journals and pens</li>
  221. <li>Small electronics (earbuds or room lights)</li>
  222. <li>Grooming kits</li>
  223. <li>Games</li>
  224. <li>Arts and craft kits</li>
  225. </ul></div>
  226. </div>
  227. </div>
  228. </div>
  229. </div></p>The post <a href="">A Gift Collection for Communities in Schools Students</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  230. </item>
  231. <item>
  232. <title>ELU Member Spotlight: Alissa Ott</title>
  233. <link></link>
  234. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  235. <pubDate>Tue, 05 Sep 2023 16:02:06 +0000</pubDate>
  236. <category><![CDATA[ELU Member Spotlight]]></category>
  237. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  239. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  240. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_11 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
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  245. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">ELU Member Spotlight: Alissa Ott</h1>
  246. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  247. </div>
  248. </div>
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  257. <span class="et_pb_image_wrap "><img decoding="async" width="278" height="226" src="" alt="woman smiling at camera&lt;br /&gt;
  258. " title="Alissa Ott-for website" class="wp-image-8962" /></span>
  259. </div>
  260. </div><div class="et_pb_column et_pb_column_2_3 et_pb_column_10  et_pb_css_mix_blend_mode_passthrough et-last-child">
  261. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_4  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  262. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>As a dedicated member of ELU and also a Cabinet member, Alissa&#8217;s journey extends beyond ELU. Join us in taking a closer look at Alissa&#8217;s roles as a volunteer leader, what drives her, and the wisdom she&#8217;s shares with fellow ELU members looking to get more involved in the community.</p>
  263. <p>Alissa&#8217;s commitment to her community extends to various organizations. When asked about her involvements, she mentioned, &#8220;I’m on the Marketing Committee for the <a href="">Reading Area Firefighter’s Museum</a>, as well as a member of the <a href="">Greater Reading Young Professionals (GRYP)</a>.&#8221; Alissa joined GRYP after graduating from college to reconnect with her local area. Her involvement with the Reading Area Firefighter’s Museum began through her involvement with the<a href=""> Leadership Berks</a> program.</p>
  264. <p>Community involvement holds a special place in Alissa&#8217;s heart. She emphasized its significance, stating, &#8220;If we didn’t have generation after generation who care enough to give back, our community would not be what it is today. I have worked with so many leaders in my life who really care about our community, and that has been passed down to me.&#8221; Alissa emphasized the positive influence of ELU on her community leadership roles. She stated, &#8220;ELU has kept the needs of our community top of mind, which, in turn, encourages me to always be giving back in some way.&#8221;</p>
  265. <p>For ELU members aspiring to expand their community involvement, Alissa offered valuable advice. &#8220;I would advise ELU members to go through the Leadership Berks program. It’s a great way to get exposed to organizations who need help. Also – just ask! ELU members are always willing to share the great work they are doing in the community.&#8221;</p>
  266. <p>Alissa&#8217;s path from ELU to community leadership shares the importance of giving back and creating a positive impact. Alissa&#8217;s insights remind us that when it comes to volunteer leadership, the benefits are limitless.</p></div>
  267. </div>
  268. </div>
  269. </div>
  270. </div></p>The post <a href="">ELU Member Spotlight: Alissa Ott</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  271. </item>
  272. <item>
  273. <title>ELU Bettering Berks in October and November</title>
  274. <link></link>
  275. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  276. <pubDate>Tue, 29 Aug 2023 19:30:45 +0000</pubDate>
  277. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  278. <category><![CDATA[News and Events]]></category>
  279. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  281. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  282. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_13 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  283. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_5 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
  284. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_container center">
  285. <div class="header-content-container center">
  286. <div class="header-content">
  287. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">ELU Bettering Berks in October and November</h1>
  288. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  289. </div>
  290. </div>
  291. </div>
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  298. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_5  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  299. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>ELU members participated in unique opportunities in October and we are excited for what is to come in November.</p>
  300. <h6>In October ELU members:</h6>
  301. <ul>
  302. <li>Established multiple collection points across Berks County in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, resulting in the collection of nearly 450 hygiene products valued at $1,800 to date.</li>
  303. <li>Served a <a href=";igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==">Taco Tuesday-themed dinner</a> to the families at Safe Berks and also participated in a sorting project.</li>
  304. <li>Will participate in our inaugural Kick Out Learning Loss kickball tournament in support of United Way&#8217;s <a href="">Ready.Set.READ!</a> education initiative.</li>
  305. </ul>
  306. <h6>In November ELU members will have the opportunity to:</h6>
  307. <ul>
  308. <li>Enjoy a unique opportunity where United Way of Berks County has partnered with<a href=""> Reading Area Community College</a>, <a href="">NAACP</a>, and <a href="">The Wyomissing Foundation</a> to present a new one-act play, &#8220;Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect,&#8221; exploring the relationship between these historical figures. The play invites reflection on connecting and communicating despite differences in our current times and offers a free community performance on <strong>Wednesday, November 8th at 7:00 PM </strong>at the Miller Center for the Arts, underwritten by The Patterson Foundation. <a href="">Register Here</a></li>
  309. <li>Learn about the partnership between United Way and New Journey Community Outreach aimed at addressing food insecurity in Berks County and also hear an inspiring story during a virtual session on <strong>Thursday, November 9th at 12:00 PM</strong>. <a href="">Register here</a></li>
  310. <li>Prepare Oakbrook Community Garden for winter to ensure continued food support for residents in need on <strong>Saturday, November 11th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM</strong>; kids ages 9 and up are welcome. <a href="">Register Here</a></li>
  311. </ul>
  312. <p>&nbsp;</p></div>
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  331. </div>
  332. </div></p>The post <a href="">ELU Bettering Berks in October and November</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  333. </item>
  334. <item>
  335. <title>The White House Day Care 2 Achieves Star 4 Rating</title>
  336. <link></link>
  337. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  338. <pubDate>Tue, 08 Aug 2023 18:00:23 +0000</pubDate>
  339. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  340. <category><![CDATA[Success Stories]]></category>
  341. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  343. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  344. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_18 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  345. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_6 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
  346. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_container center">
  347. <div class="header-content-container center">
  348. <div class="header-content">
  349. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">The White House Day Care 2 Achieves 4 Star Rating</h1>
  350. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  351. </div>
  352. </div>
  353. </div>
  354. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_overlay"></div>
  355. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_scroll"></div>
  356. </section>
  357. </div><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_19 et_section_regular" >
  358. <div class="et_pb_row et_pb_row_12">
  359. <div class="et_pb_column et_pb_column_4_4 et_pb_column_16  et_pb_css_mix_blend_mode_passthrough et-last-child">
  360. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_6  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  361. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p><a href="">Growing Readers</a>, a program of<a href=""> United Way’s</a> <a href="">Ready.Set.READ!</a>, focuses on kindergarten readiness by providing support and resources through high quality childcare centers located in the City of Reading. By increasing the skills and retaining Early Childhood Educators, childcare centers are better positioned to provide improved curriculum and a stable environment for the children and families they serve. Through this program, United Way supports centers with 17 weeks of personalized teacher assistance, including coaching and modeling for effective implementation, ultimately resulting in achieving <a href="">Keystone Stars Quality Assurance</a>, the state’s quality rating system for early care learning centers.</p>
  362. <p>The recent success of <a href="">The White House Day Care 2</a> exemplifies the program&#8217;s impact and the success that can come to a childcare provider when they are committed to the Keystone Stars program. White House Day Care 2 achieved a Star 4 in July 2023, just a few months after attaining a Star 3. This distinctive growth is a testament to the commitment of the White House 2 team and its leadership.</p>
  363. <p>White House Day Care was established in 2006 when Maribel Rodriguez began caring for children in a group home with just 12 children. Since then, they have expanded into two large locations. The name &#8220;White House&#8221; originates from the center&#8217;s beginnings in a beautiful old white house in Reading. They first relocated to the White House 2 center in 2016, which is located on the corner of Court and Washington Streets. This move allowed Maribel and her team to grow and serve more children in the City of Reading. This facility has a current capacity of 69 students ages, birth to 13 years old.</p>
  364. <p>Leaders within the community are inspired by the passion and dedication of the center and its staff. Senator Judy Schwank recently visited the center and praised the facility, saying, &#8220;I have been to a lot of daycares, and this one is so beautiful.&#8221; She continued to express how important this center is to the community: “This place is right in Center City and is serving parents who are confident their children are being well taken care of.” Mayor Eddie Moran also expressed his gratitude, stating, &#8220;It takes a village to raise children, and I am so grateful that you are part of this village for the families in Reading.&#8221;</p>
  365. <p>United Way&#8217;s contribution is valued for providing resources, curriculum, and essential business understanding crucial for organizational growth. General Manager, Steven Lara, who is also Maribel’s son, acknowledged Mary Jimenez, United Way’s Early Childhood and Community Engagement Program Manager, for helping them &#8220;kick off this journey”. White House has made remarkable strides in staff education, with six members completing their Childhood Development Associate (CDA) through the Growing Readers program, and another candidate currently in the process of obtaining the credential. Mary emphasized the significance of educating staff for achieving a Star 4 rating. She praised Maribel and her team, stating, “Maribel is an example to all childcare centers, and to her employees, by showing them how to get to the next level, since she began her career in the same role and has now achieved growth and success to her leadership role.”</p>
  366. <p>Parents of children enrolled at the childcare center are grateful for the dedication of White House 2 leadership and their staff. A mother of an autistic child felt encouraged by the growth she has seen in her son by sharing his story. “When my son started here in 2021, he barely spoke and didn’t follow directions; he is now doing all of that and even speaks a little bit of Spanish.” Another mother shared her appreciation with the team by sharing, “My three kids have been coming here since 2017, and they feel at home here.”</p>
  367. <p>Visit our <a href="">website</a> to learn more about Ready.Set.READ! and the Growing Readers program.</p>
  368. <p>&nbsp;</p></div>
  369. </div>
  370. </div>
  371. </div>
  372. </div></p>The post <a href="">The White House Day Care 2 Achieves Star 4 Rating</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  373. </item>
  374. <item>
  375. <title>Katherine Muñoz- CDA to Associate Degree</title>
  376. <link></link>
  377. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  378. <pubDate>Wed, 02 Aug 2023 17:20:21 +0000</pubDate>
  379. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  380. <category><![CDATA[Success Stories]]></category>
  381. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  383. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  384. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_20 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  385. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_7 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
  386. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_container center">
  387. <div class="header-content-container center">
  388. <div class="header-content">
  389. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">Katherine Muñoz- CDA to Associate Degree</h1>
  390. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  391. </div>
  392. </div>
  393. </div>
  394. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_overlay"></div>
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  396. </section>
  397. </div><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_21 et_section_regular" >
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  400. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_7  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  401. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p><img loading="lazy" decoding="async" class="wp-image-8799 size-medium aligncenter" src="" alt="Women smiling at camera wearing a graduation cap and gown" width="257" height="300" srcset=" 257w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 257px) 100vw, 257px" /></p>
  402. <p><a href="">Growing Readers</a>, which is managed by United Way as part of our <a href="">Ready.Set.READ!</a> initiative, is making a difference in Berks County. The impact has also been seen in the City of Reading,especially when it comes to getting kids ready for kindergarten and improving childcare centers.</p>
  403. <p>Katherine Muñoz’s story is a testament to the Growing Readers program. She found herself drawn to this program back in 2017. She had her heart set on getting her Childhood Development Associate (CDA) credential, but knew she needed help to make it happen. Thankfully, her supervisor at <a href="">Opportunity House&#8217;s Second Street Learning Center</a> saw her potential and encouraged her to join Growing Readers.</p>
  404. <p>The path to CDA wasn&#8217;t easy for Katherine, though. As a single mom taking care of two kids with special needs, she had a lot on her plate. But she never gave up on her dream of furthering her education. Even with long hours at the learning center and late-night shifts at the Opportunity House shelter, she stayed motivated. She realized that what she was learning through the CDA program wasn&#8217;t just making her a better mom; it was also helping her support her students in amazing ways. She said, &#8220;Now, I understand why children react the way they do in certain situations. I know how to handle those situations better.&#8221;</p>
  405. <p>Katherine didn&#8217;t stop at just at attaining her CDA. She had big dreams and set her sights on getting an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Program Management from <a href="">Reading Area Community College (RACC)</a>. It was tough, with late-night study sessions and early mornings at work, but she pushed through. She is still astonished by how far she has come because “there were days I was studying until two in the morning and had to be at work at five in the morning, but when I heard my name called to get my degree it was all worth it.&#8221; When asked how she felt walking across that stage she shared, “I had no words, it was just amazing.”</p>
  406. <p>Katherine&#8217;s not done yet. She&#8217;s aiming for a bachelor&#8217;s degree in the future. But for right now, she is passionately sharing her story of transformation with anyone who will listen. “My coworkers are always asking me how I got to where I am and I just tell them the only reason I am here is because of United Way,” she shared excitingly. She&#8217;s grateful to United Way, Mary Jimenez, her leaders at Second Street Learning Center, RACC, and her friends and family for supporting her along the way.</p>
  407. <p>Growing Readers has been life changing for 44 Early Childhood Educators (ECEs), including Katherine. And there are 23 more ECEs on their way to success! The program partners with Reading Area Community College (RACC) and gets support from Brad and Barbara Hall. Together, they&#8217;re strengthening childcare centers and making sure kids have access to high-quality early education programming.</p>
  408. <p>Katherine&#8217;s journey is living proof of how powerful United Way&#8217;s Growing Readers program can be. It&#8217;s all about dedication, collaboration, and support. With this program going strong, we&#8217;re looking forward to a future where more kids have access to high-quality early education, setting them up for lifelong success.</p></div>
  409. </div>
  410. </div>
  411. </div>
  412. </div></p>The post <a href="">Katherine Muñoz- CDA to Associate Degree</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  413. </item>
  414. <item>
  415. <title>ELU Member Spotlight: Matt Martin</title>
  416. <link></link>
  417. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  418. <pubDate>Mon, 03 Jul 2023 14:38:18 +0000</pubDate>
  419. <category><![CDATA[ELU Member Spotlight]]></category>
  420. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  422. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  423. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_22 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  424. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_8 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
  425. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_container center">
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  427. <div class="header-content">
  428. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">ELU Member Spotlight: Matt Martin</h1>
  429. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  430. </div>
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  440. <span class="et_pb_image_wrap "><img loading="lazy" decoding="async" width="456" height="345" src="" alt="Man and daughter smiling at camera in hair nets" title="Matt Martin with Daughter for Website" srcset=" 456w, 300w" sizes="(max-width: 456px) 100vw, 456px" class="wp-image-8649" /></span>
  441. </div>
  442. </div><div class="et_pb_column et_pb_column_2_3 et_pb_column_19  et_pb_css_mix_blend_mode_passthrough et-last-child">
  443. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_8  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  444. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>Matt Martin is an ELU Cabinet member who actively contributes to various organizations in his community. Matt shares, “I have always liked helping people and volunteering has always been near and dear in my heart.”  In addition to being an active volunteer with ELU, Matt serves as an Interior Firefighter and Treasurer for the Relief side of his local fire company. Prior to this, Matt had already gained experience as a Junior Firefighter in Pottsville, PA. He is also a hospice volunteer with Promedica, an opportunity he discovered thanks to Darby Wiekrykas, United Way’s Volunteer Engagement Program Manager. When asked where Matt’s passion for volunteering stems from, he responded by saying, “I like seeing people happy and that happiness goes a long way.”</p>
  445. <p>Reflecting on his involvement with ELU, Matt believes that being part of the ELU cabinet has significantly improved his volunteer leadership skills. Matt believes there is excitement in servant leadership and is grateful for the personal and professional growth that volunteer leadership has offered him and can offer his fellow ELU members. He encourages ELU members seeking to expand their community involvement to, “Just get out there and try a few volunteering opportunities.&#8221; Matt believes getting involved with ELU can be beneficial to members because, “It could open the door to many other fun ways to be more involved!”</p>
  446. <p>Visit our <a href="">website</a> to learn more about ELU.</p>
  447. <p>&nbsp;</p></div>
  448. </div>
  449. </div>
  450. </div>
  451. </div></p>The post <a href="">ELU Member Spotlight: Matt Martin</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
  452. </item>
  453. <item>
  454. <title>2023 Blueprint for Leadership and Leadership Berks Graduation</title>
  455. <link></link>
  456. <dc:creator><![CDATA[Shirley Chapin]]></dc:creator>
  457. <pubDate>Thu, 15 Jun 2023 16:23:57 +0000</pubDate>
  458. <category><![CDATA[Blog]]></category>
  459. <category><![CDATA[News and Events]]></category>
  460. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  462. <description><![CDATA[]]></description>
  463. <content:encoded><![CDATA[<p><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_24 text-banner et_pb_with_background et_pb_fullwidth_section et_section_regular" >
  464. <section class="et_pb_module et_pb_fullwidth_header et_pb_fullwidth_header_9 inner-banner et_animated et_hover_enabled et_pb_text_align_center et_pb_bg_layout_dark et_pb_fullscreen">
  465. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_container center">
  466. <div class="header-content-container center">
  467. <div class="header-content">
  468. <h1 class="et_pb_module_header">Blueprint for Leadership and Leadership Berks Graduation</h1>
  469. <div class="et_pb_header_content_wrapper"></div>
  470. </div>
  471. </div>
  472. </div>
  473. <div class="et_pb_fullwidth_header_overlay"></div>
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  475. </section>
  476. </div><div class="et_pb_section et_pb_section_25 et_section_regular" >
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  478. <div class="et_pb_column et_pb_column_4_4 et_pb_column_20  et_pb_css_mix_blend_mode_passthrough et-last-child">
  479. <div class="et_pb_module et_pb_text et_pb_text_9  et_pb_text_align_left et_pb_bg_layout_light">
  480. <div class="et_pb_text_inner"><p>Earlier this month, we celebrated the participants of two of our leadership development programs, <a href="">Blueprint for Leadership (BFL)</a> and <a href="">Leadership Berks (LB)</a>, by hosting the second joint graduation with nearly 200 individuals in attendance at the DoubleTree ballroom. The unofficial theme of the event was <em>hope</em>. Cassandra Weidner, a participant of Leadership Berks, shared, &#8220;One thing I learned from my participation in Leadership Berks is hope. I see hope through the agencies and the hope they provide to our community, and the hope that my voice is going to be heard through the skills I have learned.&#8221;</p>
  481. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  482. <p><img loading="lazy" decoding="async" class="wp-image-8600 size-medium alignleft" src="" alt="Man sharing at graduation with 2 women on stage with him" width="300" height="229" />The ceremony began with a welcome from Scott Rehr, the Board Chair of United Way of Berks County, followed by words of gratitude from Jean Morrow and Mary Jimenez. They thanked the individuals, organizations, and businesses that supported both programs by hosting sessions, serving on panels, or providing tours of their facilities. They also extended thanks to Sharon Mast for her involvement with both programs.</p>
  483. <p>Roberto Sanchez, the BFL class of 2018 President and the current BFL Committee Chair, offered his congratulations for all the amazing work the BFL class has done. As the final graduate crossed the stage, Adonis Fleming, this year&#8217;s BFL Class President, shared his favorite quote from BFL, &#8220;If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.&#8221; He then challenged the community by saying, &#8220;Get ready to pass the plates and the butter, because we are ready to sit at the table.&#8221; Adonis concluded his speech by calling out each of his classmates and challenging them individually to &#8220;be the change they want to see.&#8221;</p>
  484. <p>&nbsp;</p>
  485. <p>Once the final Leadership Berks graduate crossed the stage, Cassandra Weidner and Ann Marie Haus, both LB graduates, provided<img loading="lazy" decoding="async" class="wp-image-8588 size-medium alignright" src="" alt="woman in pink dress reading from podium at graduation" width="300" height="300" /> comments about the impact this program has had on them. Along with Weidner being inspired by her experiences of hope, Haus shared, ”Leadership Berks has been everything I hoped it would be and has prepared me to be a changemaker.” She continued, ”Being a part of this program has opened my eyes and my heart.”</p>
  486. <p>The event left a sense of hope in the hearts of those in attendance as they heard about the participants&#8217; plans to serve on local nonprofit boards and committees. It was evident that each graduate is deeply committed to making a positive difference in Berks County.</p>
  487. <p>Blueprint for Leadership is a half day program, that meets for six weeks, and is designed to prepare individuals from under-represented groups for leadership on diverse nonprofit boards. Recruitment for BFL begins in the fall. Learn more on the <a href="">website</a>.</p>
  488. <p>Leadership Berks is an all-day nine-month program that meets monthly and is dedicated to giving local professionals the tools they need to serve in key volunteer leadership positions with local nonprofits. Recruitment for the LB program is currently underway. Learn more on the <a href="">website</a>.</p>
  489. <p>&nbsp;</p></div>
  490. </div>
  491. </div>
  492. </div>
  493. </div></p>The post <a href="">2023 Blueprint for Leadership and Leadership Berks Graduation</a> first appeared on <a href="">United Way of Berks County</a>.]]></content:encoded>
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