HANOVER TWP. — Bill Jones, president and CEO at the United Way of Wyoming Valley, scheduled three presentations Friday to thank supporters for their help and to convince others to join the campaign.
The three rallies Jones was doing — the first at Navient in the Hanover Industrial Park — are part of 160 to 180 he will do to educate the community on the United Way’s initiatives and to solicit support.
“We always welcome the opportunity to do more,” Jones said.
In the past month alone, Jones said he and his campaign team have presented 56 United Way rallies, sharing the latest on the “Poverty to Possibility” movement with employees of 37 companies.
On Friday, it was Navient’s turn to turn up the volume.
About 75 of Navient’s nearly 1,000 workers gathered in the cafeteria to hear what Jones had to say. Navient is the largest company with a United Way employee campaign, Jones said. The goal is to raise $100,000 at Navient, with another $50,000 through corporate-supported gifts.
“The partnership between United Way of Wyoming Valley and regional business and industry is vital to our fight to reduce childhood poverty, abuse and neglect in the Wyoming Valley,” Jones said. “The United Way has significantly changed how we serve the community. We have narrowed our focus to increase our impact.”
Jones said one in every four children in the Wyoming Valley are living in poverty. He said there is not a single school building in all of the Wyoming Valley that doesn’t know these issues.
“As an organization, our agenda to help children and families has never been fuller,” said Jones. “We are pursuing this work as aggressively and passionately as we can and I am proud of the partnerships we are forming to advance our mission.”
Troy Standish, senior vice president at Navient, and Lisa Stashik, vice president, are coordinating the company’s 2017 campaign. Standish is a United Way board member and incoming chairman of that board. He said the Hanover Township facility is one of the largest customer service centers for Navient.
“Customer service and community service go hand in hand,” Standish said. “The United Way’s mission of eradicating childhood poverty really resonates with our team.”
Stashik said about 60 to 70 percent of Navient’s staff will participate in the campaign.
“A lot of small gifts can add up to a large donation,” she said.
Poverty rate doubles for kids
According to the United Way, since 2000, the childhood poverty rate in the Wyoming Valley has doubled, with one out of every three children under the age of 5 now in poverty. Three years ago, the United Way began to focus on root causes of social service need, by investing in programs which can help improve the odds for children and families.
Here are some other interesting notes about the United Way’s work:
• More than 42,000 children, parents and individuals were served by United Way of Wyoming Valley over the last year.
• Currently, United Way is supporting 36 programs across 21 organizations in the community.
• United Way is passionate about its work and proud of the progress being made. The community-wide efforts being made are not about Band-Aid approaches or quick fixes. Instead, it is looking to create sustainable and lasting change.
• Some of the plans in progress include building on the Grade Level Reading and educational programs started last year; initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect; partnering with Geisinger Health Plan to address opioid abuse; and creating a workforce development program.