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Their teachers noticed it first. Anna, aged 6 and Irene, 9, were two sisters who were in danger of slipping through the cracks. The teachers could see the results, but they could not determine the causes for the girls’ issues. Anna and Irene lacked personal hygiene, which is a sure path to being teased, bullied, or ostracized by other children. The girls did not come to school prepared with even basic school supplies. They were struggling, both academically and socially.
It would take a team effort to help these two girls, but that is exactly what United Way does best.
Following a gentle, nonthreatening, nonjudgmental conference with the girls’ mother, United Way identified the local services available to the family. Catholic Charities, with United Way funding, was able to pay down the family’s water bill so they could have running water, allowing the girls to bathe regularly. The mom, who was struggling financially and emotionally, received counseling through another United Way program to help her cope with the challenges of being a single parent.
The girls were offered places at The Lemoyne Center, a United Way partner agency, in “Homework & More” and “Nutrafit”, two after school programs where they ate a nutritious meal, healthy snacks, and were given academic support and enrichment activities in music, dance and art that greatly enhanced their lives. Their school performance and sociability improved immensely. The Lemoyne Center’s food bank helped the family with supplemental food, as needed.
With the help of The United Way of Washington County’s funded programs, Anna and Irene were able to receive dental care at Cornerstone Care.
For the first time, they are reading at grade level and enjoying academic success. They will participate this summer in a nutritional program at The Lemoyne Center. Since access to vegetables is important in their nutritional development, they will learn how to plant, tend to, and harvest a garden. Their mom has enrolled in “Getting Ahead”, a United Way funded program provided by Blueprints that will help to improve her financial stability.
Children living in poverty, often accompanied by hunger, are at risk of experiencing significant academic and life challenges. In Washington County, more than 23 percent of children and teens are struggling at or below the poverty level. United Way wants every child in every school to have a good education, access to healthy food and a safe place to live for a productive, successful future. We strive to provide social and academic support for students in Washington and our communities. Beginning as early as preschool, our youth work focuses on creating a positive influence in student lives, instilling in them a desire to achieve, and preparing them for success after school.
With help from an entire team funded by the United Way, Anna, Irene, and their Mom have positive attitudes toward learning, healthy eating, exercising proper hygiene and, in general, are enjoying a happier, more secure existence.