The START UNITED partnership delivered a dynamic learning experience for nearly 1,000 children through the generous support of the community. “United Way is in the business of helping kids,” said Darren Bickel, President of the United Way of Kosciusko County. “This summer, kids needed the community to provide a space of learning, healing and safety. START UNITED delivered all of those things; a great learning environment, engagement with volunteers and the supplies needed to start the school year.
“We took the traditional summer school plan and threw it away,” said JoElla Hauselman, Warsaw Community Schools Summer Program Coordinator. “This year required new ideas – smaller class sizes, grab & go lunches and a deeper focus on one-on-one learning
For START UNITED to be a success, volunteers had to be involved. United Way decided to reimagine its Read United initiative. Nearly sixty community members stepped forward to read stories to classrooms via Zoom. “It’s not the usual way our volunteers connect with students, but our motto this year is Find a Way to Make It Work” said Bickel
Finally, United Way was committed to helping the children leave START UNITED ready for school – that mean school supplies. Over 1,000 Ready-to-Go bags were handed out to children. “We issued a challenge to the community – fill one thousand bags in three weeks and wow- did they respond.” Businesses, churches, hospitals and individuals all helped with the project. Warsaw Community Church provided water bottles and facemasks. Goshen Hospital provided hand sanitizer. Everyone one did something. Volunteers sorted all the donations last week and now Ready-to-Go bags have been distributed to students in Warsaw, Wawasee and Tippecanoe Valley Schools.
START UNITED was built on a simple premise – our children need a community that passionately cares. The past few months have been tough. It has challenged our community to rise to the occasion. As a result, there will now be hundreds and hundreds of children that are excited and ready for the first day of school, because the community reached out with compassion.
Join with us
United Way works all year long to support children and families in
our community through projects like START UNITED. You can do something right
now to help those most in need.
· Become a United Way Champion by making
a recurring monthly donation.