Blog Home > Archive (August, 2017)

There is nothing that compares to the look that comes over a child’s face when ‘the light bulb comes on.’ I have seen that look of pure joy in the face of a beginning reader when all of the sounds and letters he has been practicing finally come together and comprehension occurs. When a child realizes he or she is reading, the proud moment ranks up there with riding a bike on two wheels! This is a memorable moment for our students, which also brings a lot of joy to our Read to Succeed volunteers.

Read to Succeed and Read to Excel are literacy programs fostered by United Way of Southeast Missouri. Read to Succeed (R2S) has been serving students in kindergarten and 1st grade since it rolled out to all Cape Girardeau public elementary schools in 2012. Data indicate students who were involved in R2S when the program first launched have the highest reading proficiency of any K-6 cohort. All participants average a gain in reading proficiency of one and one-half years.

Read to Excel (R2X) is a new program funded through a DeltaCorps grant from the Delta Regional Authority. R2X serves 2nd, 3rd & 4th grade students at two elementary schools as well as 5th & 6th grade students at Central Middle School. R2X targets a select portion of students reading at roughly one grade level below their current grade to strengthen reading skills and bolster self-confidence. As with R2S, progress will be monitored throughout the program and measured by pre- and post-assessments.

As the R2S Program Manager, I am privileged to get to read with kiddos at all of the schools on a daily basis. There is no better feeling than to witness a child's "ah-hah" moment. It gives you, as a volunteer, such a sense of pride and accomplishment. To be there to help celebrate with that child when they finally get it is like no other feeling. Knowing that you have helped a child further their reading skills, which in turn, will further their educational abilities, is so rewarding!

I highly encourage current volunteers to spread the word of the positive impact the program has, and I encourage those who have not yet worked with the program to volunteer today!

To learn more about volunteer times feel free to email Robin Koetting, Read to Succeed Program Manager, or contact our office at 573-334-9634.

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It’s no secret that the people in Southeast Missouri are generous and want to do all they can to support their community. Earlier this year, we came together to help our neighbors in Perryville affected by an early spring tornado. More than $70,000 was raised by our organization alone to help aid the families impacted. Months later, the community is still rallied together to ensure that those affected have the support they need as students go back to school, holidays approach and building projects begin. This generosity is the reason it came as no surprise to hear local businesses wanted to do their part to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Thousands of individuals living in the Gulf Coast have been forced to leave their flooded homes. They’ve lost everything they own due to days of continued rain. Across the country we’ve seen communities spring into action to help fellow Americans in Texas and Louisiana. Recently, we’ve had a few Southeast Missouri groups contact us about what items they can collect and where donations can be sent.

Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items can do more harm than good. Volunteers are working around the clock to ensure families are evacuated from flood waters and have access to shelter and food. It takes a lot of time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. The best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.

United Way of Southeast Missouri, a local affiliate of United Way Worldwide, understands your desire to help and wants to do our part to support you. United Way Worldwide has launched a national United Way Harvey Relief Fund. According to United Way Worldwide (UWW):

  • The fund was established in response to individual and corporate donors who are looking for one, simplified place to impact the entire affected area.
  • 100% of all money raised will be distributed to the affected United Ways for community needs. No individual donations will go toward administration and overhead at UWW.
  • UWW is working directly with affected United Ways in Texas and Louisiana to distribute the funds in an equitable manner.

If you are interested in volunteering, The American Red Cross is currently recruiting and deploying volunteers. According to a release sent by the organization, The American Red Cross of Eastern Missouri has around 50 volunteers who are in Texas or on their way. At this time, they are focused on deploying registered and trained volunteers. The best way to get involved is to register and start your training so that you’re ready if/when the call comes.

The Red Cross is holding a training this Saturday in their Cape Girardeau office located at 2430 Myra Drive. The training will run from 10:30 am - 11:30 am. Those interested in volunteering may also visit

Hurricane Irma Update - 9/11/2017

From United Way Worldwide: "The U.S. Virgin Islands suffered catastrophic damage, mainly in St. Thomas and St. John. United Way of the U.S. Virgin Islands has set up a disaster fund and is currently accepting donations. The Turks & Caicos Islands also suffered massive damage. We will be assisting them on disaster recovery plans. Both Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic suffered building damage, flooding and power outages in certain parts of the islands. Fondo Unidos de Puerto Rico is supporting the Red Cross on recovery efforts, including providing their 2-1-1 service.

We also wanted to let you know that, similar to Harvey, United Way Worldwide is launching the United Way Irma Recovery Fund. Here are a few quick facts about the Fund:

  • This is a response to individual and corporate donors who are looking for one, simplified place to give and impact the entire affected area.
  • 100% of individual donations given to the United Way Irma Recovery Fund will be used for recovery efforts in the affected areas.
  • The money will be distributed to local United Ways in the affected areas of the Southeast United States, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and trusted partners in other affected areas of the Caribbean.
  • We are working with affected United Ways on distributing funds in an equitable manner.

To give to the Recovery efforts or find more information, please visit You can link to the donation form here. In order to keep it as simple as possible for donors, there is one give page, and they can select to support (1) Harvey, (2) Irma, or (3) the hurricane-affected region where it’s most needed. From there, you can find links to specific information about the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund and the United Way Irma Recovery Fund, with more details on each storm and the individual local United Way funds."

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If you were with us at the Isle, you know that we decided to switch things up a little with our campaign kickoff. We followed the trend of many other organizations and turned our fundraising kickoff into an actual fundraiser.

Knowing we were taking such a different approach from what we normally do meant we really had to come up with an out-of-the-box idea that not only excited our donors for the two-hour event, but also left them feeling excited about the upcoming United Way campaign in their workplace. We needed to capture the attention of our audience while also informing them of the need in our community.

Now, more than ever, we need to continue providing support to our students who may one day lead your workforce. We need to be there for our seniors who have been an integral force in our community and help them to continue to thrive and live independently. Our partner agencies collaborate every day to ensure seniors, children and their families are achieving their full potential. But what if we could do more?

The idea for offering our partner agencies mini-grants came from a United Way Worldwide training I had the pleasure of attending earlier this summer. The focus of the training was on fundraising, and I had the opportunity to learn from other resource development professionals working for United Way chapters across the country. Thanks to a colleague from Michigan, I learned about an event that utilized crowdfunding and the tech-popular start-up platform to help nonprofits begin new initiatives in their communities.

Why did Team United think this would be the perfect program to use for kickoff? We had a couple of reasons. First, it gave our partners an opportunity to share their ideas with our donors. We typically get about 10 minutes on average to update our donors with information during campaign season. Since we invest in over 30 partner agency programs, it’s impossible for us to share details about all of our programs in these short presentations. Sure, we highlight one every month in our newsletter and you can read more about them on our website, but donors are constantly telling us they also enjoy hearing directly from the source.

The second appeal of this new concept is it gave us a platform to demonstrate continuous need right here in Southeast Missouri. I tell people every day that I want to work myself out of a career. If there ever came a day where an organization like United Way and all of our partner agencies were no longer needed – it would be incredible. Unfortunately we aren’t quite there yet, but we’re still motivated to make this community the strongest it possibly can be. We gave three partner organizations the opportunity to share with our donors what would happen to their organization if they had just a little more funding. As it turned out, they could do some pretty incredible things.

The Boy Scouts of America utilize United Way funding to focus on giving “camperships” to students in our area who can’t afford to attend one of their summer camps. They believe in giving everyone the opportunity to have a full scouting experience, which is why they applied for a mini-grant that will pay for a troop in Jefferson Elementary School. The $500 they requested can pay for the materials and uniforms required to train 4 adults to lead 10 students on their scouting journey.

Linda Nash, Executive Director of Voices for Children/CASA, applied for a $1,000 grant to start a support group for foster students who are about to ‘age out’ of the system and graduate from high school. For any student, deciding what to do after high school can be challenging, especially in a day with so many opportunities. For the 20 or so students aging out of foster care, basic survival can be an even greater concern than attending college or trade school. The new support group will help these students become self-sufficient and productive members of the community and develop into individuals who are capable of meeting their own needs. The group will also allow them to gain the resilience and acquire the skills and education necessary to live independently.

Finally, the Community Caring Council (CCC) and Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeast Missouri collaborated to create the “Passport to Summer” initiative that will take place during the Boys and Girls Clubs’ 2018 summer camp. The goal of the program is to encourage students to engage in cultural, artistic, and community-focused events, building on the Key Developmental Assets of responsibility, the arts, and community taught by the CCC. The $1,000 grant will help cover the event and transportation costs for each student participating in the program.

We are extremely grateful to our donors at kickoff who stepped up to meet the need and make it all possible!

All it took was $2,500, the perfect kick-start to our campaign. If you can give just a little, that is just as fantastic. Every dollar invested into our organization goes a long way; we make sure of it. No matter the size of your gift, YOU make a HUGE impact in the lives of our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. If every United Way donor in our region gave just one more dollar every year, it would be more than enough to make all three of these programs a reality every year.

Over the course of the next year, be sure you’re following us on social media and receiving our monthly newsletter so you can stay up to date on these new initiatives in Southeast Missouri.

It’s not just our community. It’s YOUR community. Together, we make it stronger. #LIVEUNITED


If you're interested in supporting these mini-grant initiatives, please click here to submit a donation.

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