Isn't that catchy? Its catchy AND true. Parents do know their children! We want to support you as parents by connecting you to the many community resources available to your family! The first stop...Help Me Grow's NEW website!
Add it to your book marks. Come back to visit! Look through the community events! Check out the ativity sheets! Find us on social media! SO much is available to help you get the info you need!
“I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted for admission at Duke/Georgetown/George Washington/Michigan Law School for the class of 2016.”
These were the words I thought would never come. After nearly a year in preparation for law school, the door had finally been opened to me. But it also meant something else: another door was closing.
As my time at United Way of Utah County is ending, I reflect upon it with great fondness. From golden pencil awards to princess ponies unicorn power, I smile as I relish in these (giggly but meaningful) memories. The work was plentiful, but there comes a certain satisfaction with doing work that is both the kind you are passionate about and that brings about a heartfelt impact to others.
And the people. The people that work here are precious. Working alongside them, I’ve seen the genuine care and love they have for their community. Their eagerness to become friends, not just co-workers has brought me not only great joy, but great support here in Utah County. Talking with them, I see the passion they have for doing good, and it encourages me to do more myself.
But just because my name no longer hangs on my cubicle, does not mean I’ve stopped in this quest for helping out, lending a hand, raising my voice in advocacy of others. Whether it’s inspiring others through music, teaching English in Chile, advocating in a courtroom or simply volunteering on a Saturday morning, I can continue to kindle the hearts and improve the lives of others, no matter who or where I am.
That’s the beauty of it--the spirit of volunteering, of working for the common good, can be done anywhere. It needs to be done everywhere. It’s the attitude that United Way lives by, that drives it forward. It’s the attitude I live by.
That’s how I LIVE UNITED.
I have written and erased the beginning of probably 7 blog posts. I’ll be honest. I don’t know what to write about. All I can think about is how busy I am and how I can’t wait for a break with my family. So here’s what I’m looking forward to. On Christmas Eve we eat clam chowder. Mom makes a special clamless clam chowder for me. I dislike that the clams bounce back when I try to bite them. So basically she makes me potato soup. Then we open one present. New pajamas! I’m the only single sibling left in my family so I’m the only one who still benefits from this. Bonus! Then we watch a specific version of “A Christmas Carol” while drinking ginger ale and eating chips and dip and vegetables. Then we go to bed.
Christmas morning. We’re not allowed to get out of bed until Dad wakes us up. I may be in my mid-twenties but I still wake up early with excitement. I anxiously wait in my bed trying to sleep because that’s what a person of my age should naturally do. I listen carefully. Around 7:30 I hear the bells. He’s coming! My dad comes up the stairs jingling bells singing Jingle Bells. I wait in my bed acting like he’s waking me up but really, I heard him pick up the bells. Then we line up, youngest to oldest (I always get the front) and walk/run down the stairs. Present time. I like to give gifts to my family members before opening any. It’s my way of remembering that it’s more fun to give than to get. I love seeing the reactions. I try hard to get gifts that mean something.
Then, we make breakfast. Crepes were the tradition when I was younger but we’ve been trying to simplify the day to reduce stress on the Mom. She does a lot of entertaining between November and January. We have some delicious breakfast and my dad and I make freshly squeezed orange juice. Then we clean up the house and ourselves and get ready for Christmas dinner. My dad’s family comes over. It used to be massive but as everyone’s grown it’s shrunk significantly. Now it tends to just be my dad’s siblings, their spouses and me. We eat, chat, they exchange gifts and then they go home to their own families. The rest of the day is spent playing with new toys, watching a new movie and recuperating from the festivities. The rest of the break involves seeing movies, exchanging incorrect sized gifts, and basking in one another’s good company. I cannot wait.
Now, don’t panic, but Christmas is in 15 days. If you haven’t started your traditions get going! That’s what your family remembers and that’s what matters. Make sure your traditions unify your group. Make sure you remember your neighbors. Serve them and give them opportunities to serve you. Don’t know them? Go meet them and include them in the holiday cheer. This is the season of giving. Or so I’m told. I love that helping others is on the forefront of people’s minds. But don’t forget the influence you can have on those nearby you. So here’s my attempt at gathering my scattered thoughts into the final wrap up sentences: Traditions are what we remember and are what bring people together. Never undermine the power it has starting in your own home and neighborhood and realize the ripple effect they have. And most of all, enjoy the moment.
Most people don’t look forward to tax season. But Judy Stoudt, a recent BYU graduate, makes the most of this time by volunteering with the VITA program. During tax season, members of our community who have an income below $50,000 can participate in the VITA program. This program is run locally by United Way of Utah County and offers free tax preparation for those who qualify.
Stoudt went above and beyond her typical duties as a student, single parent and now BYU employee to give back to her community. Volunteering with VITA for three years now, she looks forward volunteering to this coming tax season.
“It’s nice to help people out,” said Stoudt. “I thought, I’ve got to get signed up this year. Giving back is part of what I think I need to do.”
She got involved with the VITA program through Beta Alpha Psi, an honors society for accounting and information systems majors. Still, Stoudt insists that VITA volunteering is something almost anyone can do.
“It’s pretty straightforward, “Stoudt said. “It’s really a matter of putting numbers in the right place.”
Volunteers do not need to be tax professionals; many are simply community members who want to help. However, all volunteers must complete tax training and pass the IRS certification test, free to VITA volunteers. Classes begin October 27, or volunteers can take the class beginning in January.
But more than the extraordinary financial gains that VITA volunteers bring back to Utah County, Stoudt has gained many intrinsic rewards working with VITA as well.
“People will gush with praise,” said Stoudt. “I always enjoyed at the close of a session when we’d look at the numbers and I could say, ‘isn’t that a nice number to get back?’”
She also sees the big picture behind VITA--that it’s part of United Way of Utah’s County’s larger aim to create a stable community.
“Being unstable is an economic drain on the community. If you become stable you can turn around and give to others instead of be given to,” said Stoudt. “Stable families always benefit communities.”
For more information on VITA and building financially stable families, contact Marcus at 801-374-2588 or visit www.unitedwayuc.org.
School was never easy for me. I don’t know what it was but it always took me twice as long to do my homework. Luckily for me, I had adults in my life who were willing to take extra time with me so I could succeed in school.
Here are some examples. Example #1: My Dad would stay up with me late almost every night, helping me with my homework and didn’t seem to mind repeating and re-explaining until I understood. I didn’t know one person could have so much patience.
Example #2: My mom noticed that I needed a quiet place to study and maybe one-on-one help. She also knew Ms. Bowman, an elderly lady who didn’t have family around and was a retired school teacher. I would go to Ms. Bowman’s house after school to get tutoring help and Ms. Bowman would have someone to be with during the day. Perfect!
Example #3: During one summer, I went to my grandma’s house for tutoring for a couple weeks where she helped me with my reading. I noticed a big change. I was able to read aloud fluently and follow along better in class. All this help made all the difference in the world for me.
Instead of feeling helpless, I got the help and support I needed to move forward. My Mom used to tell me, it doesn’t matter when you get it, it just matters that you get it. That helped me work hard to get where I needed to be even if it did take me longer. Because of this early help, I eventually caught up with everybody else and was able to do well the rest of my school years.
When I first started working here, I was so excited to hear of the new EveryDay Learners initiative to have residents of Utah County make education a priority by doing formal volunteering or advocating. That extra help can make a big difference. Sign up today!
Listen, I’m a firm follower of the no-Christmas-before-Thanksgiving rule. I grew up that way. In fact, we were only allowed to watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving until January 1. Some people think this is tragic. I think it’s right. I don’t want to skip Thanksgiving. It brings my family together. We play just as many games and eat just as much food as we do during Christmas. This doesn’t make me a scrooge. I still love Christmas but I like to celebrate all the major holidays separately.
So are you wondering why I’m talking about Christmas in November? It’s because there is one thing about Christmas I’m okay embracing in November: volunteering to help others have a Christmas. I was talking about this with my mom last night. For programs in a community to be successful volunteers are critical. Without volunteers you can only do so much and rarely is it as much as what’s needed. Did you know families are already applying for Christmas assistance? For them to apply or receive that assistance, volunteers are needed. Do you get where I’m going with this?
Let me break it down for you. Celebrate Thanksgiving and don’t forget the beauty of that holiday. While you relish in the wonderful spirit of Thanksgiving, start helping families in your community now by volunteering to help with the Christmas assistance program in Utah County. You can find out about volunteer opportunities by going here or by calling 2-1-1. The get help give help line. Kick off the season with a memory that will last, volunteering.
Today I had the best experience. On the phone. With an 11-year-old.
Two 11-year-olds, actually.
I’m extremely impressed by the parents of these young kids who teach them to be an active member of their community and to contribute their own gifts to help those around them. I’m also impressed with organizations that kids are part of that encourage this type of training.
Story 1: A month or so ago, a little girl - 11 years old – contacts me and says that in the program she’s in, they’re asking the girls to do some service projects. She was looking around and found our opportunity of a book drive. We need books in home with young kids! The earlier the better! Because we know our community needs this, we’ve posted on our volunteer site the opportunity to do a book drive. This young girl saw it, took control and has collected about 150 books for families in Utah County! What initiative!.
Story 2: Today, an 11-year-old boy called in, to say that he had finished collecting diapers for a merit badge he was working on. He and I spoke and settled when he’d bring in the diapers he had collected ($100 worth of diapers = 750ish happy baby bottoms). Later, I called back with a few more details and spoke with his mom. She told me that he had looked through roughly 60 service projects and when he saw this one, told his mom, “Mom. I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have diapers for your baby. I want to do this project.” SO SWEET! He had probably helped to change a diaper or two and because of his own experience wanted to help others.
That’s what it’s about. Don’t be stingy with yourself, be generous! Be like these 11-year-olds!
If you’d like to find some service opportunities for your family or yourself, visit our website!
Not many people enjoy doing taxes. But as the new VITA Regional Coordinator at United Way of Utah County I can truly say I’m looking forward to another year of many tax returns. I am excited to pick things up where Jillian left off. She will be missed from the team here at United Way, but I am looking forward to working with all of you.
A little about me; I recently graduated from BYU with a B.S. degree in public health with an emphasis in health promotion. After interning last summer at United Way working with both 2-1-1 and South Franklin Community Center, I really gained a passion for the work being done in our community. So when the opportunity came to join the team, I took it!
I am a transplant to Utah Valley from West Linn, Oregon which is about 20 minutes south of Portland. I love swimming, photography, the arts, hiking and being outdoors so Utah is a great fit for me. I also speak Spanish (I served an LDS mission to Nicaragua) and love to dance (I was on the BYU Ballroom Dance team). While I was on my mission I served as the finance secretary for eight months. I’m hoping some of these skills will serve me well in this new position.
When I first met with the IRS and was given my training packet, I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed! Did you know that packet contains four separate books and flip charts? To be honest, up until that point the only tax experience I had was filling out my own. But I really believe in VITA and in the concepts that it’s sponsoring entity Earn It, Keep It, $ave It adheres to. So this past Saturday I joined my IRS contact at the United Way office and trained with other volunteers on tax law. I was surprised because it actually made sense. I feel like there are exceptions to the exceptions, but during our training tax law was explained in plain English. In our training session there were two retired CPAs, a girl from New York, a girl from China, a young mother/wife and myself. We all come from different walks of life but when we left we felt a little more comfortable with taxes.
We are always looking for more volunteers to help out with VITA. Last year more than 200 volunteers and for every hour they worked $1,000 came back to our community. There is a place for all volunteers even if you don’t feel comfortable filling out tax forms. We will train you and make sure you have all the tools you need to succeed. If you would like to find out more information about the VITA program, contact me at email@example.com or visit www.utahtaxhelp.org.
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