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When volunteering in your community, we understand that you want to find ways to have the biggest impact. With so many worthy causes and volunteer opportunities available, knowing where your efforts are the most worthwhile can help you decide where to put your time and effort. Read on as we explain some ways you can personally impact your community and causes that are worth your while.

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Finding ways to make a difference helps bring about positive changes for individuals, families, communities, and future generations. Helping women and girls obtain an education is a seemingly small issue that has staggering effects. Education volunteer programs in Rockford facilitate learning, school readiness, development of life skills, and much more. Read on as we explain the poverty cycle and lack of education, how it impacts women, and what we at the United Way of Rock River Valley are trying to do about it.

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A quality education of daily learning is important for all children. The thing is, children can't learn if they are not at school. Class sizes, curriculum, and teacher training are factors, but often a root cause for failing to meet education standards is student absenteeism. We at the United Way of Rock River Valley would like to explain just why empty desks are a problem and also how education volunteer programs in Rockford are trying to be part of the solution to this and many other challenges facing school districts.   

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Plain and simple: these cold winter months are rough on the body. But spring is on the horizon. As a way to motivate you through the harsh winter, set a goal to complete your first 5K. Don't think you can? If you can walk 20 minutes, we have a plan that will get you running in no time.

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Families at Lewis Lemon Elementary kicked off the year right with an evening of healthy eats and fun dance moves last week during their first Family Fitness Night event. United Way of Rock River Valley worked alongside Lewis Lemon PTO leaders to incorporate family health and fitness programming into their monthly family night events. Last week's event featured a hands-on demonstration on preparing low-cost healthy foods by Carol Erickson, Visiting Extension Educator, SNAP-Ed with University of Illinois Extension – Rockford. Families then participated in a Zumba dance workout lead by Vivian Keuter, Assistant Principal with Lewis Lemon School.

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In all societies since the world began, there has been the need for the more fortunate to take care of the less fortunate. Taking care of the needy is one of the most noble and selfless activities in which we can engage. Those who donate their time and money make it possible for needy adults and children to have food, shelter, and hope for a brighter future. None of this could happen, however, without those who take it upon themselves to raise funds and organize help for countless individuals and families suffering in this modern economy. We at the United Way of Rock River Valley would like to offer some advice for those looking to take part of this very worthy endeavor. 

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Diane Stout, former executive director of Circles of Learning in Rockford who suddenly passed away in 2013, dedicated her life to children. In 2015, Early Learning Council of the Rockford Area created the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship through Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. The scholarship is awarded in memory of Diane's advocacy for children and families throughout Rockford and the State of Illinois.

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As technology continues to be enhanced, we are able to experience more of what the world has to offer. We come against diverse situations more often than ever before, and it is important that we prepare our children to understand the beauty of diversity instead of being afraid of what they do not understand. We offer many education volunteer programs in Rockford to help families become more involved in the community and feel comfortable with the people around them. We also want to help everyone understand why it is so important for our children to experience diversity in their classrooms. 

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When you volunteer at United Way of Rock River Valley or a similar charity to help young children prepare to enter school, you are doing more than simply giving your time. Kids that prepare to enter kindergarten ready to learn are more likely to have greater social, emotional, and cognitive development since most brain development occurs before the age of five. 

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If you are looking for Rockford youth development programs, we at United Way of Rock River Valley offer many ways you can get involved. Effectively reaching the youth in your community is essential for their success in school and at home. 

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Traveling the world has always been a dream in the back of most people's minds. In the distant past, traveling was far cheaper and a much more realistic goal for anyone wishing to temporarily leave their lives behind and devote a chunk of time to moving from place to place for an adventure of a lifetime.

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Many people enjoy volunteering. Many more would like to try but don’t quite know where to start. It is especially hard for teens, who don’t usually have a lot of money to give to charities and who haven’t accumulated specialized skills, to figure out where to start. This really is a shame, since teens who accumulate volunteer hours have something valuable to add to a college or job résumé. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.

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When it comes to being involved in the community, today's youth have a reputation for being more involved with their phones than with making the world a better place. At the United Way of Rock River Valley in Rockford, IL, we understand that it is important for people, especially youth, to connect with a real person somewhere that is not online. However it can be difficult to motivate the youth to put down their electronics and work together with someone else. Here are a couple of things that we do to help the youth be more involved.

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Few things have the power to change individuals, society, and the future like education. While it can seem like such a simple thing, educating children opens up doors for their futures, their families, and the impact they will have on those around them. At United Way, we want to help you understand the importance of investing in education, so read on to learn about the impact you can have.

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There are many families who struggle daily in every community, wondering how they will have enough money to put food on the table and cover all other expenses. At United Way of Rock River Valley, we have many programs of assistance for low income families in Rockford. Find out how you can help!

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With 1 in 5 children in the U.S. living below the poverty line, heading back to school after break can reveal just how stressful home life really is for young students. In How To Help Kids In Poverty Adjust To The Stability Of School After Break, NPR blogger Meg Anderson writes that for those students, being away from school can be a crippling time of insecurity when it comes to food and shelter. By leveraging community resources available and training teachers on how to recognize these signs and where to direct students and families, we can help to create a better learning environment for students.

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Last week, Congress passed legislation that makes permanent the expiring provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), two credits that help working families keep more of what they earn to pay for things like child care, food, and reliable transportation to get to work, and the IRA Charitable Rollover. The President is expected to sign the bill.

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This year, on Tuesday, December 1, United Way of Rock River Valley is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving smarter and greater. Similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days synonymous with holiday shopping, #GivingTuesday, held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, harnesses the power of social media to inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

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Instead of simply waving a flag on Veteran's Day and telling others to "support the troops," we can actually advocate for something that makes their lives better.

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Many have asked why we, here at United Way of Rock River Valley choose to spend so much time and resources helping low income families. We have a lot of reasons for our dedication to this cause. It strengthens families, improves the local economy, and raises property values to not have as many low income families in the area. All of that aside, however, the most compelling reason we have to continue this work is to help children. We are proud to be one of the main Rockford charities for children. Children born into these circumstances have some strong disadvantages in life. By helping these families, we can and have drastically changed the lives of children for the better. The following is a list of other agencies in league with us who are dedicated to helping children:

  • School districts: We have the support and help from many school districts. They offer after school programs, free lunches, and after-hours tutoring in some locations.
  • Local banks: Nothing we do is possible without the help of funding. Many local banks like BMO Harris Bank have generously offered to sponsor money to help us run these programs.
  • Winnebego County: The local government here truly understands the importance of helping people who can't help themselves. The children in these less than fortunate families definitely fit this description. Many community programs, food offerings, and housing assistance programs have been put in place because of the funding and man-hours offered by the county.
  • News stations: Many of the local new broadcasting stations have allowed us to run stories and messages about what we do and how we help. Through these news spots, we have been able to shed valuable awareness to the issue. Much of our local support and sponsorship from private citizens has come from these news spots.
  • Private sponsors: Every little bit helps. We can't stress that enough. If you have any extra money to spare or time to donate, then we would be happy to have you contact us so we can let you know how you can help us help the children.
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For thousands of area youth, middle school is the defining moment in their lives. See how United Way and its partners are creating a movement to help middle school students achieve success. Visit www.movethemiddlenow.org.

Parents or guardians of children ages birth to five who are residents of Meridian CUSD #223 can register for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library today!

Don't wait another day. Call 2-1-1 to connect with information on counseling programs and support groups to help you reestablish safety and independence.

This free, easy-to-use tool connects your time and talent with volunteer opportunities from local nonprofit organizations. Search by interests and time availability.

Secure the lowest price on your prescription with this free drug lookup tool from our partners at FamilyWize.

We fight for the health, education and financial stability of every family in every neighborhood

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