Thousand Volunteers Needed for United Way’s Day of Caring

One thousand local residents are needed to spend a day caring for the community Sept. 21-22 by signing up for more than a dozen volunteer projects happening at nonprofits and schools across the region during United Way’s annual Day of Caring, sponsored by Nationwide. As part of Day of Caring, United Way and Robla School District will host the Robla I Care Fair for families on Sept. 22 at Robla Community Park, 625 Bell Avenue in Sacramento. The event will include family activities and resources for United Way’s Square One Project that is working to increase the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for college or career. To sign up to volunteer for a Day of Caring project or become a sponsor: http://www.yourlocalunitedway.org/day-caring.

Since United Way California Capital Region held its inaugural Day of Caring in 2013, 3,692 volunteers have donated 18,054 hours of service for 182 projects benefiting nonprofits and schools across the region.

“This is the single largest volunteer day in our region,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This is our opportunity to volunteer our time and energy as we dig our hands in to help the nonprofits and schools that do so much for our community every day.”

Day of Caring is part of United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $15K from Wells Fargo

Society for the Blind in Sacramento recently received a $15,000 grant from Wells Fargo to provide education, training and assistive devices to Sacramento-area seniors who are blind or have low vision. The funding will support Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform daily tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase independence.

“As the senior population in Sacramento continues to expand, so does the need for services like our Senior IMPACT Project that help seniors not only cope with vision loss, but also regain their independence,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We are so thankful that Wells Fargo has invested in active aging and vitality of older adults in our region.”

Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly at Society for the Blind that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, can join discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss, participate in community activities, attend monthly peer support groups in English and Spanish, and attend workshops throughout the year. For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources.

“Wells Fargo understands the importance of empowering individuals who are in need of critical community resources,” said Kären Woodruff, community affairs senior consultant. “Our investment in this program builds confidence and independent living skills for these seniors and goes a long way to strengthen and reinforce the efforts of Society for the Blind’s overall programming.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Wells Fargo provides monetary support, expertise and volunteers to national and local nonprofit organizations and causes that align with their business priorities, values, business expertise and geographies. The company focuses its philanthropic activities on creating long-term strategic relationships with nonprofits and other organizations to create innovative, sustainable solutions to meet local needs. Wells Fargo supports thousands of national and community-based nonprofits annually to help revitalize and strengthen communities. The company is among the top corporate cash donors among U.S. companies, donating $286.5 million to 14,500 nonprofits in 2017 to support critical social, economic and environmental challenges. To learn more, visit WellsFargo.com.

Free Tax Help Across Sacramento Region Through United Way

VITA volunteer helps a local resident file her taxes through United Way-led programs

Local households throughout the Sacramento region that earned $54,000 or less in 2017 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) effort led by United Way California Capital Region with support from Citi Community Development. The program will kick off at the first Super Saturday event on Jan. 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. For more Super Saturday events and weekday sites available during tax season, call (916) 498-1000 or visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/FreeTaxPrep. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1.

“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.

Through VITA, the national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns, local IRS-certified volunteers will help Sacramento-region households claim tax credits, including federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This year, more households are eligible to earn up to $6,500 in federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, however if they do file, they can claim the state and federal credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until Feb. 27.

“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of using refund advance products that can end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free VITA services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”

Local households that made $66,000 or less in 2017 can file state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides households with free tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. As with VITA, the site helps people save an average of $200 in preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address, income forms and Adjusted Gross Income from 2017.

Funding support from Citi Community Development will enable United Way California Capital Region to increase capacity and reach of the local VITA program to meet additional need and demand over the next two years. The funding will help expand the number of sites offering free tax preparation and increase the number of volunteer tax preparers.

“Nearly 20 percent of households in the Sacramento region are living on low incomes, and nearly half lack the savings to sustain an unexpected shock to income,” said Vicki Joseph, Northern California market manager for Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation services, United Way is enabling more families in need to benefit from this vital tax credit and help build their financial resiliency.”

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2018 free tax preparation programs include U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union and SMUD. For a list of collaborating partners, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/VITA.

United Way California Capital Region is leading these free tax preparation programs as part of its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, the group harnesses Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all. For more information: CitiCommunityDevelopment.com, @Citi on Twitter, YouTube.com/Citi, http://Blog.Citi.com, Facebook.com/Citi and LinkedIn.com/company/citi.

 

 

Society for the Blind Wraps Up National Fitness Challenge, Finishes 7th

More than 30 kids and adults with vision loss across the Sacramento region came together in November to learn Paralympic sports at Society for the Blind in Sacramento. The all-day event was the grand finale to Society for the Blind’s participation in the National Fitness Challenge sponsored by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and Anthem Foundation. The Paralympic event included clinics in rowing, golf, judo and goalball, as well as lunch and presentations by athletes leading the clinics.

“This was a really exciting day as we had kids as young as 10 and seniors up to age 85 learning favorite Paralympic sports and discovering ways to stay active and competitive with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “This was such a fun way to wrap up our hard work in the National Fitness Challenge.”

Society for the Blind finished seventh in the challenge out of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that competed in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors provided more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants were Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this past spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind worked with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants became more aware of opportunities in their community.

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation: www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information: www.usaba.org, www.twitter.com/USABA or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes.

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.

®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. For more information: www.twitter.com/AskAnthem, www.twitter.com/AnthemBC_News or www.facebook.com/AskAnthem.

Holiday Stockings Needed for Formerly Homeless Women and Kids

Bring smiles to formerly homeless women and children this holiday season by contributing to Women’s Empowerment’s annual Holiday Stocking Drive. The group is seeking 250 unstuffed stockings and specific fillers for local infants and toddlers, children, teens and adult women.

“The women and children in our program have known the coldest, loneliest holiday seasons. The community’s simple gift of stockings brings immeasurable joy along with warm winter accessories as they celebrate their first holiday season in a home they can call their own,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment.

For the list of items needed, visit www.womens-empowerment.org. Those interested also can donate $35 to have a volunteer elf fill a stocking or donate $15 Target gift cards. Items are needed by Dec. 6 and can be dropped off at 1590 North A Street, Sacramento.

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,457 homeless women and their 3,500 children. Last year, 92 percent of graduates found homes and 81 percent found jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes and support services to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and receives no government funding except for in-kind rent from the County of Sacramento. To make a donation, visit www.womens-empowerment.org.

United Way Receives $31K from U.S. Bank

United Way California Capital Region recently received a $31,000 grant from U.S. Bank Foundation’s Community Possible program to help fund United Way’s Square One Project. The project is the local United Way’s 20-year promise to end poverty by significantly increasing the number of students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.

“Our Square One Project is about bringing the community together to make it possible for kids to succeed in adulthood,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We are honored that U.S. Bank Foundation has recognized this important work through its Community Possible program and provided the funds to make it happen.”

Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

“At U.S. Bank, we are focused on being a good corporate citizen and closing the gap between people and opportunity in local communities across the country,” said Pamela Maxwell, vice president of corporate social responsibility at U.S. Bank. “We invest our time, resources and passion in economic development by supporting efforts to create stable jobs, better homes and vibrant communities. On behalf of all of our employees in the region, we are so proud to partner with United Way California Capital Region to help fund the Square One Project.”

Community Possible is the corporate giving and volunteer program at U.S. Bank, focused on the areas of Work, Home and Play. The company invests in programs that provide stable employment, a safe place to call home and a community connected through arts, culture, recreation and play. Philanthropic support through the U.S. Bank Foundation and corporate giving program reached $54.2 million in 2016. Visit www.usbank.com/community.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp, with $464 billion in assets as of June 30, 2017, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States. The company operates 3,088 banking offices in 25 states and 4,826 ATMs and provides a comprehensive line of banking, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at www.usbank.com

United Way Celebrates 5th Anniversary of Day of Caring

Since United Way California Capital Region held its inaugural 2013 Day of Caring, 3,692 volunteers have spent one day caring for their community over the last five years. Volunteers donated 18,054 hours of service, valued at $366,572, for 182 projects with nonprofits, parks and schools across the region, including on United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring that took place Sept. 22-23.

“In just five years, Day of Caring has become the single largest volunteer day in our region,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Thousands of volunteers have dug their hands in to help hardworking nonprofits, parks and schools that do so much for our community every day.”

Hundreds of volunteers donated time for United Way’s 2017 Day of Caring at dozens of volunteer projects, including building garden beds at schools, painting nonprofit program facilities and cleaning up parks. The event began with a kickoff breakfast and rally at Cal Expo that included an appearance by Mayor Darrell Steinberg. As part of this year’s Day of Caring, United Way held its inaugural Stuff the Bus campaign, which raised more than $11,000 in school supplies for Robla School District in Sacramento.

Nationwide has been the presenting sponsor for Day of Caring since it began in 2013. Project sponsors for 2017 included Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, ESM Prep, KPMG, Law Offices of Deon R. Stein, Nelson Staffing, SAFE Credit Union, SMUD, Social Interest Solutions, Sutter Health, Syzmanowski Orthodontics, TaxAudit.com and Zurich. Media partners included Entercom Radio’s ESPN Radio 1320 AM, 98 Rock, Eagle 96.9 FM and 106.5 The End.

Day of Caring is part of United Way California Capital Region’s Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

Society for the Blind Launches Mobile Low-Vision Services and Vision 2020 Campaign

Society for the Blind is launching mobile low-vision services as part of its effort to meet the growing need for low-vision care in outlying counties throughout Northern California. The mobile clinic was donated by VSP Global, whose mission is to increase access to eye care. The mobile clinic services officially launched today at an event where VSP Global handed over keys to the donated van that will carry the donated mobile eye equipment across the region. Guests at the event heard from Society for the Blind optometrists and other representatives and had the opportunity to view the mobile equipment up close. Patient exams took place all morning.

The launch also kicked off the public phase of Society for the Blind’s Vision 2020 campaign that aims to raise $5 million by 2020 to expand services across the region as the need for low-vision eye care continues to rise. The campaign has raised $3 million toward its efforts to build capacity to reach more rural areas, expand services within the onsite Low Vision Clinic, update infrastructure and launch an endowment.

“There are 100,000 people with low vision living in the Sacramento area, but Society for the Blind is working at capacity serving 6,000 children, adults and seniors each year,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Through this donation of the mobile clinic and equipment, we can bring our Low Vision Clinc to people in some of the most rural communities in Northern California who would not otherwise be able to travel to Sacramento. This is an example of partnerships we need to make Vision 2020 a reality.”

The van will transport the equipment and the Society for the Blind eye care professionals across the region. VSP Global also donated the mobile low-vision eye exam equipment that will make it possible to expand access to eye care. The mobile clinic will begin services in Sacramento to meet the needs of a long waitlist of patients in the city, and by end of the year will begin traveling up the Highway 99 corridor to bring care to the Redding and Yuba areas. Through the clinic, patients will have access to a Society for the Blind optometrist providing low-vision exams, an occupational therapist and an instructor for in-home trainings. Staff also will conduct outreach to optometrists in the areas where the van is serving.

“VSP Global is honored to support Society for the Blind and their optometrists in increasing access to eye care for those with low vision throughout Northern California,” said Les Passuello, senior vice president at VSP Global and Society for the Blind board member. “We look forward to seeing the new opportunities that Society for the Blind is able to create for individuals living with low vision or blindness.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation to the Vision 2020 campaign, visit www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

As a doctor-governed company, VSP Global® exists to create value for members and opportunities for VSP network doctors. VSP Global’s complementary businesses include VSP® Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eye care for its 84 million members around the world through a network of 40,000 eye doctors; Marchon® Eyewear, Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services, providing custom lens solutions for the vision and lifestyle needs of patients; Eyefinity®, the eye care industry’s largest electronic health records and practice management software company, and VSP Omni-Channel Solutions, which creates connected consumer experiences designed to strengthen the relationship between VSP members and their eye doctors. To date, VSP network doctors have provided eye exams and eyewear at no-cost to over a million people in need through a partnership with VSP Global’s Eyes of Hope®.

One More Week of Free Summer Meals for Sac Area Kids Through United Way

Local kids through age 18 have been enjoying free lunches this summer at locations across Sacramento County, thanks to United Way California Capital Region’s summer meals program. Several Sacramento-area sites will continue to serve free summer meals through Aug. 11:

  • Washington Square Apartments, 4018 10th Street, Sacramento
  • Glen Ellen Mutual Housing Community, 2394 Glen Ellen Circle, Sacramento
  • Mutual Housing on the Greenway, 6311 Sampson Boulevard, Sacramento
  • Mutual Housing at Lemon Hill, 6000 Lemon Hill Avenue, Sacramento
  • Fruitridge Community Collaborative, 4625 44th Street, Sacramento
  • West Sacramento Recreation Center, 2801, Jefferson Boulevard, West Sacramento
  • Arthur F. Turner Community Library, 1212 Merkley Avenue, West Sacramento (through Aug. 10)

“We already have too many kids struggling with food insecurity in our region, and that number gets even higher during summertime when kids don’t have after-school meals as an option,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We’re encouraging all families to take advantage of this great opportunity to make sure kids have enough to eat this summer.”

United Way and its partners are providing summer literacy activities at the meal sites to ensure kids do not experience what Bray refers to as “summer slide.”

“Kids who don’t read during the summer can go back to school in the fall up to three grade levels behind where they were when they left for summer break,” Bray said. “So we’re working with our summer meals sites to also provide educational activities while kids are already there for food. With bellies full of healthy food, and brains full of fun learning activities, kids will return to school in the fall ready to keep learning.”

In the capital region, one in five children struggles with food insecurity. United Way’s healthy meals program increases local children’s consumption of well-balanced, nutritious meals after school and throughout the summer. Meals are made with high-quality, minimally processed ingredients that are nutrient dense, low-sodium, have minimal preservatives and no high fructose corn syrup. The focus on local produce helps expose kids to a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. For more information about United Way’s summer meals program: www.yourlocalunitedway.org/summermeals.

United Way’s healthy meals program is part of its Square One Project, United Way California Capital Region’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career. To learn more or make a donation: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

United Way Receives Tech Grant from IBM

United Way California Capital Region has received a SafetyNet technology grant from IBM valued at $300,000 that will help improve services to the people of the greater Sacramento area. The local United Way was one of only a handful of organizations selected in 2017 by IBM for its new SafetyNet grant program. IBM SafetyNet provides customizable software, pro bono consulting and training services, and hosting in the digital cloud to store information securely, conveniently and reliably.

“As a United Way board member, I know the value that donors place on demonstrable outcomes in choosing where to give. SafetyNet is a foundational tool for evaluating the progress of United Way’s work toward achieving desired outcomes,” said Kim Hewitt, IBM executive in Sacramento. “As an IBMer, I am proud that we are making assets such as SafetyNet available to support the essential work of nonprofits in the communities where we live and work.”

United Way California Capital Region will use IBM SafetyNet to measure outcomes of the Square One Project, United Way’s 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones to prepare for success in college or career. To learn more or make a donation: www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

IBM SafetyNet is helping nonprofits document and evaluate the success of their programs more quickly and effectively – a prerequisite for receiving essential funding from the public and private sectors. Collecting and analyzing client, program and funding contract data can be a time-consuming and arduous task for many organizations. Data analysis offered by IBM SafetyNet enables social service providers to pinpoint and address possible gaps in services, and lead to better programming in support of their clients. To learn more about IBM SafetyNet: www.ibmsafetynet.org.