Tis the season to help one another...and we're doing a great job in Utah County! We'd love to find out what you're doing to serve. Take a second to do this quiz:
This post was written by Whitney C. our guest blogger and PR intern.
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it's easy to get caught up in the stress of the season. Sometimes I find myself worrying more about what Christmas ISN'T than what it IS - encouraging peace on earth and good will toward men. In my previous entry, I mentioned how my husband and I were discussing traditions we would like to have. I mentioned a couple of them, but we have since decided on a few more.
We really want to be sure that we are remembering the true meaning of Christmas and offering our help and service to those in need. This is especially important to us as we begin our family and hope to set an example of charity and service for our children. There are plenty of things that can be done to touch the lives of those around us. My husband and I want to go to a nursing home and visit the residents there. Dropping off a plate of cookies or a thoughtful card is another easy way to help people feel loved and appreciated.
If you or someone you know is looking to make a financial contribution this holiday season, you can also become a sponsor for United Way of Utah County's Sub for Santa program. More than 280 families with about 700 kids still need sponsors. Sub for Santa not only helps provide children with Christmas presents, but it helps fosters financial stability through workshops where applicants learn about low-cost Christmas traditions, budgeting and other community resources that are available. For more information about becoming a Sub for Santa sponsor, visit www.unitedwayuc.org/subforsanta or call 801-356-6300.
My family has quite a unique tradition for New Year's Day. Every year after we've gone to bed on New Year's Eve, Baby New Year brings each of us a new book. I don't exactly know where this tradition originated from or how a new book ties into the New Year's holiday. All the same, I have loved the tradition and plan to continue it in my family. As a child, it was exciting to have one more thing to look forward to after all the presents at Christmas. And the book, being the only gift given that day, didn't get lost among the many other gifts from Santa Claus.
As part of our Sub For Santa program here at United Way of Utah County, every child who is sponsored always receives a book as one of their Christmas gifts. Our hope is that this book won't get lost among the other gifts, but will help foster a love of reading in these children and encourage parents, if they don't already do so, to read to them. In Utah County, 32% of 3rd grade students are below their reading level. By simply reading to their children from the beginning of their lives, parents can have a dramatic effect on their reading ability. And children who are at or above their appropriate reading level are more likely to stay in high school and be successful in adulthood.
So start a new tradition of giving the children in your lives a book for Christmas or the New Year. And make a New Year's resolution to read to your child every night. If your not sure what book to start with, check out these reading lists from Provo City Library, http://www.provolibrary.com/booklists, or ask your child's teacher for personal recommendations. Not only will you be helping your child succeed, you might just enjoy an adventure or two yourself.
Each month, we spotlight someone from our community who is LIVING UNITED by choosing to Give, Advocate or Volunteer.
How I LIVE UNITED - Maurine Miles, Welcome Baby Volunteer Nearly three years ago, Maurine Miles began as a volunteer for United Way of Utah County's Welcome Baby program; now, Miles serves as a mentor and supervisor for program volunteers. Welcome Baby is a home visitation program that pairs new mothers with a once-a-month visitor who teaches them about their child's development, community resources for parenting and activities to encourage proper development. The program is designed to promote a healthy, secure and enjoyable beginning for parents, new babies and their families.
"It's too bad that all new moms don't join the program because there's so much they can learn about interacting with their babies," Miles said. Miles has worked with about 15 different families since she began volunteering as a visitor in January 2008. "It makes me happy to think that I might be helping somebody when I see a mom learn or become more comfortable with something," Miles said. "I remember how scary it was to be a new mom, and I want to help others who are there. I also love the babies, and its fun to interact with the mothers."
Miles visited a mother and father from India after the birth of their first child. She said it was especially fun to meet with the mother because she was so excited about the things she was learning. The father was also so excited about the information provided that he would try to be there for the visits as well.
Through the course of her volunteer work with Welcome Baby, Miles has had as many as six families she was visiting at a time. Miles has greatly appreciated her experiences with Welcome Baby, as well as the training she has received. "It's a wonderful opportunity, and you get training that you can share with friends, neighbors and family," Miles said. "It's a great way to stay in touch with families and what's going on in the community. It's good to learn, and anybody who's volunteered knows that it's a neat experience. Money can't pay you for what you feel."
If you are interested in becoming a Welcome Baby volunteer, contact Barbara at 801-691-5304 or visit www.unitedwayuc.org/welcomebaby for more information. For additional volunteer opportunities, dial 2-1-1 or visit www.unitedwayuc.org.
Announcing: One of United Way of Utah County’s newest early childhood initiatives, Help Me Grow, was selected to receive funding from the NATIONAL Help Me Grow team!! The national team received a grant from Kellogg to replicate the original Help Me Grow program in 10 new sites across the country over the course of three years and we were chosen to be one of three sites to be implemented in the next year! It’s so exciting! With this funding and approval from the national team, we plan on expanding Help Me Grow statewide and help families all over Utah.
One great success story from Help Me Grow was about a family who had a 2-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. The daughter was very bright and very verbal. The son didn’t talk very much because his sister often talked for him. The mom was concerned so she called Help Me Grow, expressed her concern and filled out a developmental screening questionnaire. The questionnaire showed that he was developing well in all areas, except for in communication where he showed signs of an expressive speech delay. Help Me Grow referred him to an agency where he received weekly speech therapy and also gave the mother activities to reinforce his speech in the home. After eight months Help Me Grow re-administered the developmental questionnaire and found that his communication test results were normal. He began attending preschool continues to be progressing well.
So often there are cases where developmental delays go unnoticed, causing greater problems in the future. In my time working with Help Me Grow, I’ve seen how each family situation is unique and has unique needs. Help Me Grow tries to help these families and get them connected to needed resources. It’s been very fulfilling for me to see how just a little extra support in families can go such a long way. So, support families! Support us!
This post is written by Whitney C. our guest blogger and PR intern.
I have had the opportunity to go to a couple Sub for Santa applicant workshops this year. The workshops are held at the Provo City Library in both Spanish and English (though I've stuck to the English workshops ... my Spanish is far too rusty). I went to one workshop to help out and better understand the Sub for Santa application process, and I went to another to take pictures of the process. For those of you who don't know, all applicants to the Sub for Santa program are required to attend a workshop.
The workshops are intended to teach the applicants about budgeting ideas, resources in the community and low-cost Christmas gifts and traditions. I've been especially impressed by the discussions on traditions. At each workshop, the presenter asks what traditions people have and what they remember most about Christmas. Each time the question is asked, people enthusiastically provide answers - but it's never about the gifts. People remember the family dinners they had all together. They remember acting out the Nativity Scene with their siblings and other relatives. They remember decorating the tree as a family the day after Thanksgiving. They remember opening pajamas from Grandma on Christmas Eve.
Since I've attended the workshops, my husband and I have been talking about what traditions we would like to have in our family. I'm a personal fan of the Christmas pajamas, since that's what my family has always done, and he likes the idea of a family meal. We've decided that these are both things we'd like to start in our little family. What are your Christmas traditions? What traditions would you like to have in your family? They're a lot of fun to think about and they'll be the lasting memories of Christmas.
With a severe weather alert and blizzard coming our way, we had our emergency preparedness VISTA George V. put together some things we can do to keep our families and homes safe in the extreme cold. We know there is a lot to read through, but it is all valuable information that everyone should know. So here are a few winter preparedness safety tips. BEFORE SEVERE WEATHER ARRIVES
- Store drinking water, first aid kit, canned/no-cook food, non-electric can opener, radio, flashlight and extra batteries where you can get them easily, even in the dark. Have questions about kits? Check out Ready Utah for some great checklists and tips!
- Keep cars and other vehicles fueled and in good repair, with a winter emergency kit in each.
- Get a NOAA Weather Radio to monitor severe weather.
- Know how the public is warned (siren, radio, TV, etc.) and the warning terms for each kind of disaster in your community; e.g.:
- "winter storm watch" --- Be alert, a storm is likely
- "winter storm warning" --- Take action, the storm is in or entering the area
- "blizzard warning" --- Snow and strong winds combined will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts, and life-threatening wind chill--seek refuge immediately!
- "winter weather advisory" --- Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists
- "frost/freeze warning" --- Below freezing temperatures are expected and may cause damage to plants, crops, or fruit trees
- Keep plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, sandbags and hand tools on hand and accessible.
- Winterize your house and any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors or equipment. Install storm shutters, doors and windows; clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks; and check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow--or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
If you think you might want to volunteer in case of a disaster, now is the time to let voluntary organizations or the emergency services office know--beforehand.
DURING A SEVERE WINTER STORM
- Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio or keep a local radio and/or TV station on for information and emergency instructions.
- Have your emergency survival kit ready to go if told to evacuate.
- If you go outside for any reason, dress for the season and expected conditions:
- For cold weather, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extremely cold air. Wear sturdy, waterproof boots in snow or flooding conditions.
- Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your house cooler than normal. Temporarily shut off heat to less-used rooms.
- Avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, do so during daylight.
- Don't travel alone. Stay on main roads, and keep others informed of your schedule.
IF A BLIZZARD TRAPS YOU IN YOUR CAR
- Pull off the road, set hazard lights to flashing, and hang a distress flag from the radio aerial or window. Remain in your vehicle; rescuers are most likely to find you there.
- Conserve fuel, but run the engine and heater about ten minutes each hour to keep warm, cracking a downwind window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Exercise to maintain body heat but don't overexert. Huddle with other passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
- In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering--anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
- Turn on the inside dome light so rescue teams can see you at night, but be careful not to run the battery down. In remote areas, spread a large cloth over the snow to attract the attention of rescue planes.
- Do not set out on foot unless you see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
- Once the blizzard is over, you may need to leave the car and proceed on foot. Follow the road if possible. If you need to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain your sense of direction.
AFTER THE STORM
- Report downed power lines and broken gas lines immediately.
- After blizzards, heavy snows or extreme cold, check to see that no physical damage has occurred and that water pipes are functioning. If there are no other problems, wait for streets and roads to be opened before you attempt to drive anywhere.
- Check on neighbors, especially any who might need help.
- Beware of overexertion and exhaustion. Shoveling snow in extreme cold causes may heart attacks. Set your priorities and pace yourself after any disaster that leaves you with a mess to clean up. The natural tendency is to do too much too soon
Make sure your Saturday morning is clear for a little seasonal service! Family Volunteer Day is a national service day that happens to be this Saturday, November 20. This year, Family Volunteer Day has expanded all over Utah County - you'll find us in Eagle Mountain, Provo, and Genola! Projects will last from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Here's where to go:
Spring Creek Elementary
1740 Nevada Ave. in Provo
Friends in Need
5194 N. Lake Mountain Rd. in Eagle Mountain
Migrant Head Start
352 E. 800 South in Genola
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