Author: Aviva Pinchas

[VIDEO] YOU help Austin families thrive

Our friends and neighbors in particular communities are struggling more – in St. John’s, Manor and Dove Springs, families face unique challenges. To help Greater Austin thrive, we focus on these areas.    [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Dds5ulFns[/youtube]   Learn more about the Salazars, Maldonados or Wynns – and make a gift today to support Austin families.   

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It takes a lot to thrive as a working family

This is the Salazar family – they live in the St. John’s neighborhood in Austin, near the intersection of I-35 and 183. Like many Austin families, they juggle many challenges – tight budgets, long hours and trying to provide the best for their family – so the Salazars need support from their community. Claudia, the mother, decided to stay at home to care for their children and avoid the high costs of child care while her husband provides for the family by fixing cars. Between transportation to get to work on time, food, bills and rent – there’s barely enough left at the end of each paycheck. During the summer especially, as the temperatures rise, so do water and electric bills – so a time that most families enjoy together is a time of stress in the Salazar home as their finances get even tighter. The Salazars have even considered taking out payday loans just to get along – but these can cost thousands in fees and leave them with even more challenges. But the Salazars can turn to United Way to access safer banking options so they can avoid payday lenders – or call our Navigation Center to connect to summer food programs.  In a couple of years, their daughter Kylie will enter middle school where many students begin to fall behind. The Salazar’s know that for Kylie to stay on the path to graduation, she’ll need support from both of them, she’ll need to not worry about food or how she’ll get […]

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Get to know your city

Austin is an amazing city to live and work in. We know because UWATX has been serving this city for 90 years.  We recently compiled a history of this wonderful community in our ‘United for 90 Years’ Timeline to celebrate the culture and growth of Greater Austin. If you’re looking for a fun summer activity, we’ve not turned the timeline into a map to help Austinites plan a scavenger hunt of our city’s history – including the FIRST headquarters of United Way for Greater Austin!      See an iconic Austin spot missing? Let us know in the comments! 

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Partner Profile: Kerbey Lane Cafe

Name: Kerbey Lane Cafe Partner for: 1.5 years Partner for: Employee Campaign, Hands On Central Texas   Our relationship: Giving back in a variety of ways Creating a year-round, focused philanthropic initiative Kerbey Lane Cafe started their philanthropic efforts with UWATX as volunteers – they sponsored Fall Day of Caring and their team participated in volunteer projects. Through these efforts, they were able to get a first-hand look at what UWATX does in the community and who their dollars, advocacy and time could support – our friends and neighbors who struggle to make ends meet. Their efforts were so spectacular, that they won the 2013 Excellence in Volunteerism Award!  Through these efforts, their team identified the Success By 6 Center Project as a key area they wanted to support – and they’ve done it: specific locations adopted centers in the project to support with in-kind efforts and volunteering. Each location also has a philanthropic liaison who works to connect their team to the community during their Employee Campaign but also throughout the rest of the year – an important Best Practice for effectively engaging employees around giving and building a corporate responsibility plan.  Finding ways to give that fit company culture  Mason Ayer, CEO of Kerbey Lane Café, is strongly focused on culture – and creating a philanthropic focus is part of those efforts. Knowing their staff is unique, the team at Kerbey Lane has found special ways to give back that fit their culture, including:  Just eating a yummy brunch and saw this on […]

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9 local businesses making Austin greater

As part of our 90-day celebration of UWATX’s 90th anniversary, we’re working on 10 lists of 9 highlighting influential and impactful people in the Austin community. In the eighth part of our series, we bring you nine local businesses invested in giving back.  We’re a city that prides itself on our weirdness – and a big part of what makes Austin different is how much we love local business and how many businesses come from Austin. We’re a city that nurtures small businesses and attracts entrepreneurs – and we’re also a city that gives back. In that spirit, we are highlighting 9 businesses that are both homegrown in Austin and give back to our community.  1. Alt Creative Alt Creative is an interactive design agency that makes giving back a core part of their work – they blog about the importance of small business being philanthropic and even have a page on their site dedicated to their philanthropic impact. In 2013, they were a finalist for the AustinGives GeneroCity Awards.     2. Kerbey Lane (UWATX Partner) Besides making delicious pancakes, Kerbey Lane also makes our community better. The iconic Austin restaurant was founded in 1980 on the idea that food should be fresh and locally grown, and to this day, they continue to support local farms and producers. They also make time for employee volunteering projects through our Hands On Central Texas program, adopted local child care centers through our Success By 6 Center Project and are active in other community efforts. Kerbey Lane is truly a company committed to make Austin […]

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AJ is spending his summer learning

instead of staying home alone while his mother works, AJ is coming to Decker each day, where he is currently working through interactive lessons about outdoor skills and environmental science – in the second half, he’ll concentrate on visual art and film. AJ Resendez describes himself as a ten-year old boy, born and raised in Austin, TX, who loves swimming, dodgeball, and the color blue. This summer he has joined the ranks of 70+ other middle school students who will learn new skills and make new friends at our Middle School Matters Summer Program at Decker Middle School, part of our Target Graduation program.  “I have always lived in Austin – born and raised,” says AJ.  “It’s really fun, and I like living here because you get to meet people from around the world and learn about them.” This summer, instead of staying home alone while his mother works, AJ is coming to Decker each day, where he is currently working through interactive lessons about outdoor skills and environmental science – in the second half, he’ll concentrate on visual art and film. Because of the program, AJ will have more opportunities to learn, stay active, and get to know the middle school he will attend in the fall. At the same time, Decker benefits from AJ’s cooperation and easy smile.   AJ just graduated from fifth grade at Pioneer Crossing elementary where he served as student council president. When asked if he campaigned for the position, he simply shook his head and said that he was chosen by […]

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75+ students in Manor ISD are getting a quality summer program!

Today, we launched a two-year pilot initiative: a summer program at Decker Middle School designed to provide more than 75 low-income fifth, sixth and seventh grade students in Manor ISD with summer learning opportunities. The 7 week-long initiative includes: UWATX’s Hands On Central Texas —Austin’s largest volunteer network — will conduct weekly volunteer activities where staff lead on-campus volunteer projects aimed to introduce students to philanthropy at an early age and help them improve their own school. This builds on our success leading Volunteer Project Leader classes at Decker MS.  National Summer Learning Day on Friday, June 20, in which students will team up with UWATX’s Young Leader Society members to guide advocacy letter writing about the importance of summer and afterschool programs as part of a larger, nation-wide effort. Texas Association of Minorities in Engineering event on Tuesday, July 22 in which TAME’s “Trailblazer Bus”—the only interactive science and engineering museum-on-wheels in Texas—will be stationed at Decker Middle School to provide STEM-based activities for the students. Creative Action will offer film production classes where students will be able to produce a film based on a social issue they identify in their community. Additionally, Creative Action will offer an art visual program in which students will develop their skills as individual artists. Camp Fire will offer a leadership program aimed to build leadership skills and introduce participants to STEM-based professionals. We’ve been serving Decker Middle School for three years as part of Target Graduation, which focuses services on the critical middle school period […]

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“Working with a creative community to serve the Austin community”

We’ve been growing up alongside Austin for 90 years –  and what it means to struggle financially has changed drastically in that time. To tell that story, we teamed up with local creative forces Alex Hannaford, journalist, and Matt Rainwaters, photographer, to create “Struggle: The Other Faces of the Texas Economic Miracle” – a zine showcasing our friends and neighbors who challenge the expected narrative around the working poor. What made you interested in this project? “These are the people who work full-time, often two jobs, to put food on the table and pay their bills, but who still find themselves unable to sustain this.” Alex Hannaford, journalist Alex: I’ve written a fair bit about the marginalized in society – and so this was a natural fit. I also thought it was interesting that this project didn’t focus on the poorest members of society, but the ‘working poor’ – a segment of the population that is largely ignored. These are the people who work full-time, often two jobs, to put food on the table and pay their bills, but who still find themselves unable to sustain this. Matt: I was also interested in telling the story of the ‘working poor.’ Having just recently learned the joy of fatherhood, I also confronted the high cost of child care, how that affects your quality of life and so on – there was definitely an element of sympathy there. It also interested me because these are stories we don’t hear about poverty – […]

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Middle school students gave 865 hours to low-income neighborhoods

Today, we proudly celebrated the end of another successful school year by watching more than 40 local middle school students graduate from our Volunteer Project Leader (VPL) program. In the past year, these students completed 18 projects and gave 865 hours of service back to their own communities.  The VPL program was adapted from a national model that trains adults on how to lead and manage volunteer projects on their own time, helping transform casual volunteers into active community leaders. Since it launched, we’ve expanded the program to all three campuses served by our Target Graduation program – Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle School – bringing together UWATX’s volunteer management expertise with our efforts to help students stay on the path to graduation.  The program helps students become active in their own communities from a young age. The three schools that currently have the program all serve low-income areas, so students are paying back into a system of supports that they have benefitted from or improving neighborhoods where there are significant needs and barriers.  As part of the VPL program, students conduct community assessments to determine projects that could better their local community. Based on the responses they receive from the assessments, students devote their entire school year to these projects.  Last year at Decker Middle School, one of the key needs they identified was for a safer route to school, since the speed limit on Decker Lane was 50 mph. Students organized their classmates and the community – and received funding from the Texas Department of Transportation to build a […]

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Amy Hammond served our country – now she serves our community

With Memorial Day around the corner, we’ve been thinking a lot about the veterans we work with every day, especially the dedicated men and women who help motivate their fellow government workers to give back to our community.  One of these inspiring figures is Amy Hammond – a San Antonio native, who retired from the Air Force two years ago and currently works as part of the Veterans Benefits Administration. Last year, Amy learned about UWATX’s work, specifically the Navigation Center, and was so impressed, she chose to give back to support our efforts. In the following months, Amy has joined the local committee to help lead the Central Texas Combined Federal Campaign, the Employee Giving Campaign that provides federal employees with the opportunity to support their local communities through payroll deduction donations.    What motivated you to go into the Air Force? What are you most proud of in your Air Force career?  I was born into an Air Force family and I’m sure that had something to do with me following that path; however, at the time I joined the Air Force I was simply looking for a means to pay for my undergraduate degree.  The Air Force paid for four years of my college via a scholarship and then I paid the Air Force back by committing to four years of service.  Somewhere along the way, the Air Force became so much more to me, it became a calling to serve and I ended up staying for 25 years.  The things I’m most proud of in my career […]

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