Category: Hands On Central Texas

12 Ways To Fight Poverty This Holiday

The holidays are full of traditions from baking gingerbread cookies and drinking hot cocoa to curling up on the couch to enjoy a classic holiday movie. This time of year, for most of us, is accompanied by nostalgia and joy.   Unfortunately, many families in Austin are barely able to celebrate the holidays. At United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) we talk a lot about the two very different sides of Austin. Austin is the live music capital of the world, a rapidly expanding tech hub, one of the coolest places to live and yet, it’s also one of the most economically segregated cities in the country. Many parents in our community struggle to put food on the table each day and live paycheck-to-paycheck year round.   The holiday season often puts an undue burden on many Austin families. As you celebrate, we encourage you to spread your joy a little further, to your neighbors in need. Because giving back and is a part of our DNA at United Way, we hope that this blog will provide you with simple and meaningful ways to make fighting poverty easy and enjoyable this holiday season.   1. Donate to UWATX directly: The easiest way to fight to end poverty is by donating to UWATX this holiday season. All gifts are welcome.         2. Host a United Way Seasonal Drive Team up with co-workers or family members to help gather items to help families in need. Click the link for […]

Read More

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and One of our Own

Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) at United Way for Greater Austin coordinates corporate volunteer activities as team-building projects and each year they help hundreds of businesses engage their employees in community-changing volunteerism. On Saturday, Sept. 24., the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation teamed up with HOCT to give back at their annual Coke Scholars Service Summit. The Coke Scholars Service Summit is an opportunity for Scholars to gather from different parts of the country to build strong relationships, adventure in a new city, and continue to be inspired about community change. Austin’s Zavala Elementary School, where Coke Scholar Tim McCallum attended in 1991, was chosen as the volunteer project venue for the 2016 Summit. View photos from the Summit here. In attendance was Madison Springgate, who in addition to being a Coke Scholar, is also one of our very own Campaign Associates. Madison was chosen as a Coke Scholar in high school and said, “I was thrilled to be a part of the project at Zavala, from the Scholar perspective, as well as part of the United Way staff.” To get to know more about the Coke Scholars program and the impact it had on Madison, read the brief Q and A below.   What does it mean for you to be a Coke Scholar? When looking at my personal journey, specifically when it comes to my passion for community impact work, much of it goes back to my experience as a Coke Scholar. Though I was very involved with volunteering and philanthropy in […]

Read More

All Hands on Deck at Fall Day of Caring

Each fall, United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) welcomes corporate volunteer teams and individuals from the community to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism through a one day service extravaganza called Fall Day of Caring (FDOC). This year’s Fall Day of Caring  presented by NXP Semiconductors was held on Sept. 23 and brought close to 800 volunteers to over 30 volunteer projects at nonprofits and schools all over Austin. Volunteers cleaned out gardens, prepped materials for teachers, built play structures and much more. UWATX believes that anyone can be a philanthropist by giving their time to make their community stronger, smarter, safer, and more beautiful for everyone. Through events like Fall Day of Caring, we invite everyone to be a part of making Austin greater! FDOC wouldn’t be possible without our amazing sponsors: Austin Coca-Cola, Broadway Bank, JE Dunn, Kerbey Lane Café and NXP Semiconductors. These companies empower not only their own employees, but hundreds of other Central Texans to give their time to causes they’re passionate about at FDOC projects. In addition to sponsoring the event, each of these companies send their own workers– from executives to entry level employees – out to work together to accomplish huge projects for nonprofits in need of a little help. JE Dunn volunteers utilized their construction expertise to make the playground at Trinity Child Development Center safer by building a raised deck over a frequently flooded area on the playground. Trinity CDC, part of UWATX’s Center Project initiative, provides high quality early child education […]

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight: Beth Tracy, IBM

United Way for Greater Austin (UWATX) and IBM have a deep partnership, and much of this is accredited to Beth Tracy, IBM Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. Beth has been making Austin Greater with UWATX since 2002. She served on the Hands on Central Texas Advisory Board for two years from 2004-06 guiding the team to inspire, mobilize and equip volunteers to create sustainable change in the Austin community. Nikki Krueger, Director of Community Engagement and Youth Development at United Way for Greater Austin, explains,“When I entered the world of community and volunteer engagement, Beth was one of the first people I met through the Hands On Central Texas Advisory Council. She is a model for corporate community engagement and she never shies away from a leadership role. She is an incredible advocate and friend.” Beth also served on the Success By 6 Leadership Council as Vice Chair from 2010-11 and Chair from 2012-14 leading the team towards innovative and sustainable solutions for Austin’s youngest residents. Sue Carpenter, Vice President of Success By 6 adds, “Beth has been a long-time, highly valued SB6 volunteer leader, culminating in a term as chair of the SB6 Leadership Council. Her calm, professional style set the tone for effective and productive meetings and her understanding of appropriate volunteer leadership roles allowed her to mentor experienced and rookie advisory board members. Beth listens carefully and seeks understanding before giving advice or guidance, and her insightful questions often helped me reach better decisions over the years. […]

Read More

Kerbey Lane Café Beautifies Open Door Preschool East

Did you know that the average annual cost of high quality early childhood care is nearly $10,000? Imagine a family that is already struggling to make ends meet faced with an additional expense of $9,734, the average cost of high quality childcare in Austin according to the Texas Workforce Board. Even for a family with two adults working full time at minimum wage, that’s a third of the family’s income for the year going to childcare instead of housing, food, utilities or other necessary expenses. Because of this high cost and the barrier it represents to students starting kindergarten, United Way for Greater Austin supports childcare centers serving low-income families with free or reduced tuition through the Success By 6 Center Project. The initiative currently works with 13 childcare centers, serving over 1,000 children in Austin. The Center Project works with these centers to help them meet state and national standards for quality early childhood education including training for teachers, leveraging in-kind and volunteer resources to improve facilities and providing data collection and analysis to improve individual outcomes for students. On Aug. 19, employees from all seven Kerbey Lane Café (KLC) locations joined Hands On Central Texas (HOCT) to beautify Open Door Preschool East – one of the longest running partner schools of the Center Project. KLC volunteers painted four classrooms, over half of the rooms serving students. While the KLC volunteers were not expert painters, HOCT staff provided a short training and in-depth project coordination to ensure volunteers felt comfortable and completed […]

Read More

Volunteer Spotlight: Jackie Oliver, Broadway Bank

With the start of school less than a month out, UWATX’s volunteer arm, Hands On Central Texas, is already planning the Back to School Volunteer Day at Webb Early College Prep Academy. Volunteers will come together on August 18th to help teachers prepare their classrooms for the year, beautify the campus and distribute donated school supplies to different programs and areas of the school. One of our dedicated partners, Broadway Bank, has been volunteering with our back to school efforts for the past two years. Broadway Bank’s home city of San Antonio hosts a large school supply collection, which inspired Austin Assistant Market Manager, Jackie Oliver, to bring those efforts to Austin when she reached out to UWATX in 2014. That year and the following year, 2015, Broadway Bank successfully collected supplies for more than 50 students in need at a partner middle school by hosting collection events at their downtown Austin branch. Jackie made sure to keep the Broadway Bank group involved and volunteering throughout the year. Employees participated in the H-E-B Feast of Sharing in November, Spring Day of Caring and Fall Day of Caring. Additionally, Broadway Bank donated holiday meal kits to families at the Mendez Boys and Girls Club Thanksgiving Dinner. The meal kits included food to prepare a delicious family meal and an H-E-B gift card to purchase a turkey. We had the opportunity to chat with Jackie and her marketing team about what drives Broadway Bank’s philanthropic involvement:   1. How long have you been involved with […]

Read More

Kerbey Lane Café Makes Huge Community Impact

Pancakes and queso are only some of the few great things that come from the delicious Austin landmark, Kerbey Lane Cafe! Kerbey Lane makes giving back to the community a top priority. Through their 36 years of operating, they have supported the Austin community by contributing their time, resources and energy to local organizations. Kerbey Lane Cafe emphasizes the importance of philanthropy by supporting UWATX by running employee giving campaigns at each location and volunteering year-round at different events, such as our Spring Day of Caring and Fall Day of Caring and one-off projects like beautifying Webb Middle School and childcare centers. Kerbey Lane CEO, Mason Ayer is also a devoted UWATX Board Member who exemplifies giving from the top down is what makes a campaign successful. On May 5th, Kerbey Lane Cafe celebrated their 36th anniversary by generously donating 100 percent of their profits from all seven restaurants to UWATX. Yesterday, Kerbey Lane team members and CEO Mason Ayer, who also serves on the UWATX Board of Directors, spent time volunteering at Webb Middle School’s field day. Volunteers painted signs for the talent show, assisted teachers with cleaning out rooms for the summer and even built a brand new shed to hold supplies for the school’s garden. They also took the opportunity to present a check for $50,037 to UWATX CEO, David C. Smith. The check was made up from donations collected from Kerbey Lane’s employee giving campaign as well as the profits from their 36th anniversary gift. A few years ago, Kerbey Lane […]

Read More

Recognizing Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy: 2015 Campaign Awards

At United Way for Greater Austin, we run more than 200 employee campaigns in nearly 700 locations in the Austin area. Employee campaigns provide an opportunity for businesses to empower employees to be philanthropists by donating a portion of each paycheck back to the community. Last night, we celebrated and recognized companies who excelled in building philanthropy in our community at our 2015 Employee Campaign Awards. Award winners: Best Practices: Superior Health and Texas Gas This award recognizes the company that implements UWATX’s best campaign practices, which include Senior Officer involvement, access to employees and use of UWATX campaign materials among several others. This year we had two winners for this award. Superior Health kept their campaign at one week to give a sense of urgency; they also planned a week of fun, educational experiences for their employees encouraging them to give. Texas Gas established multiple opportunities for UWATX staff to come and speak to their employees about our work, as well as ran a closed campaign where employee donations were matched 1:1 by their foundation. Community Investment Award: H-E-B The Community Investment Award represents a company or companies who exemplify what it really means to wrap arms around a community to make a significant impact. Anyone who shops at H-E-B realizes it’s not your normal grocery store. This year, H-E-B decided to increase corporate giving to match the generosity of their employees and UWATX experienced a 150% increase in corporate giving. They make philanthropy a part of their culture and host […]

Read More

VPL Graduates Celebrate at Kerbey Lane Cafe

The UWATX Volunteer Project Leader (VPL) middle school program aims to transform youth into active community leaders by teaching them leadership skills they need to make lasting change in their communities. This week, 35 middle school VPL students from the three campuses we work on attended a celebration of their accomplishments at Kerbey Lane Cafe. They ordered pancakes and breakfast tacos from a special menu featuring a letter of encouragement and congratulations from Kerbey Lane’s CEO and UWATX Board Member, Mason Ayer. These students from Mendez, Webb and Decker Middle Schools completed 20 volunteer projects this year, ranging from making seed balls and beautifying their neighborhoods, to packing hygiene kits for the homeless and leading a craft station for refugee children. After breakfast, students received special certificates, t-shirts and journals to document their ideas on how to continue making Austin greater. As with any VPL meeting, the event concluded with a peer shoutout exercise we call “brag on your neighbor.” Students and volunteers recognized the contributions of each other that made this year both successful and fun. Below are some messages left by the students on a reflection board from the event: “Thank you for helping me help others”   “Thank you for showing me skills I didn’t know I had”   “Because of VPL, I know that I want to grow up to be a philanthropist”   Want to make a difference in the community? Visit HandsOnCentralTexas.org, the largest volunteer network in Central Texas, and find opportunities that interest you!

Read More

10 Easy Ways To Be Environmentally Friendly

Today is Earth Day. It has always been important, but now more than ever is the time to reflect on how your daily rituals are negatively impacting our world. Being “environmentally friendly” is more than making sure to recycle and throw your trash in the proper receptacles. There are many little things that can add up to a large negative impact on the environment you never realize; but on the flip side, this also means that by being conscious of these little habits, you can make changes to your routine that are easy on you and effective for making Austin a bit greener. 10 easy ways to be more environmentally friendly: Stop using straws Like we promised–easy yet impactful! You may not think about straws because they’re so small, but consider this: Straws are one of the top ten items littered into our oceans. In the last 25 years, over six million straws and stirrers were removed from beaches during annual cleaning events (One Green Planet). While Austin may not touch any oceans, consider this same effect relevant for our beloved lake, greenbelt and other areas. Straws are literally made to only be used once, and do they really make much of a difference when it comes to enjoying your drink or not? Pick up your garage sale, lost pet, for sale, etc. signs It’s great to repurpose your old clothing and furniture–one man’s trash is another’s treasure. But one man’s garage sale signs are simply trash if they’re still sitting […]

Read More