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While April showers may bring May flowers, finding ways to pass the time can be difficult. However, you can make great use of your time while the rain falls by exploring volunteer opportunities in Rock River Valley. In fact, think about giving back to the community through these easy and rewarding ways to volunteer during the rainy season.

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Deciding to volunteer and signing up to volunteer are two different things. You may have the best of intentions, but finding volunteer opportunities in Rock River Valleys is not always easy. While you can keep an eye out for such opportunities as you go about your day, use these tips to find new, exciting and heart-warming opportunities in your community.

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United Way's Black Male Initiative (BMI) is a pilot program that launched about a year ago. We partnered with Goodwill of Northern Illinois and the Workforce Connection to focus on empowering Black males between the ages of 18 - 24 to overcome challenges related to education and employment. Over the last year, we have connected 16 young men with mentors that provide additional guidance and motivation as they pursue their goals. These are some of the accomplishments to date:

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Volunteering is an excellent way to give back to your community. You can encourage others to persevere through troubling hardship and more, but community service can also have major health and psychological benefits for you as well.

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Yes, we "officially" celebrate Black History Month in February, but it's never too late to shine a light on the important figures that make our community great! Working in the Ellis Heights Neighborhood, I drive by Lewis Lemon Elementary School often. I'd like to share a little history related to the school's name!

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Unemployment in the Rockford, Illinois area is almost twice the National average, which makes finding a job that more difficult. It's especially a major issue for young black men. In fact, nearly 70 percent of young black males between the ages of 18-24 years old are without a job. That's more than four times higher than the rate for young white men.

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With spring’s arrival, the time is perfect to refocus your efforts on attaining and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Rather than spending thousands on diets and exercise equipment, follow these seven life-hacks for healthy living Rockford residents can rely on.

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Everyone experiences financial stress, whether you’re new to the workforce, trying to make big life decisions or looking towards retirement. Here in Rockford, IL region, we’re certainly not immune to that.

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The income gap has been a part of mainstream media for years, but how it impacts communities is often overlooked. On the surface, it means the wealthiest people continue to growth their wealth, and those in the lower and middle classes face shrinking ability to live on their incomes. However, understanding how this topic hurts communities can help change income inequality Rockford residents have come to see.

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Parenth.o.o.d Promise (PHP), works with families to ensure that their children will graduate from high school. Parenth.o.o.d Promise has four components:

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The arrival of tax season represents a major challenge for many people without the funds to file their income tax returns. Meanwhile, messages of financial hope get lost amid advertisements and promotions offered by retailers. The IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program gives those who cannot afford to file opportunity, but many do not understand what the program is and how it works. So, you can help those in your community by knowing a few things about it.

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I had the pleasure to watch Anita Fricks, Parent Liaison at Kishwaukee Elementary, in all her altruistic glory yesterday. It was amazing to watch how joyful she was to simply help people. Ms. Fricks invited the Kishwaukee School community to a clothes closet that she had conceived, constructed, and cared for; the turnout was as positive as the spirit that created it.

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"If you give a pig a pancake, she'll want some syrup to go with it. You'll give her some of your favorite maple syrup, and she'll probably get all sticky, so she'll want to take a bath. She'll ask you for some bubbles. When you give her the bubbles..."

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When you finally land that job you've been hoping for, you don't let anything get in your way—not even being homeless. Things had finally turned around for Jesse and he was grateful to be working at a production warehouse, but he still wasn't able to afford an apartment. But when Jesse had his taxes prepared at United Way's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site, he found out that he'd be getting the Earned Income Tax Credit. He and his wife Juana used their return to move out of their car and into a home.

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United Way is known for working to improve community health, bring neighborhoods together for a common good and make a difference in the lives of those in need. Thus, more businesses and organizations are turning to United Way to plan, host or participate in community service opportunities, and successful workplace campaigns can be a major stepping stone toward giving back to your community. However, planning a workplace campaign or hosting a company volunteer day, known as Day of Caring, can be complicated, so use this guide to ensure nothing is overlooked or forgotten.

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From third-party educational institutions to government resources, a mountain of evidence indicates job training plays a major role in achieving financial stability. As explained by the Federal Reserve Board, people with more job training and education in their field tend to have a higher level of financial stability, but financial stability is much more than simply having money in the bank. Consequently, you need to understand how job training leads to community empowerment Rockford residents in need can use for better job placement and attain financial stability.

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One of the biggest excuses people give for not working out during the winter is that it is too cold. Even if you do not love exercising, you should still work towards staying active and staying healthy. Here is a list of simple ways to stay active during the cold winter months:

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United Way does all kinds of wonderful things to help our neighborhoods and families in need. This does not just happen, though. It takes a lot of help from individual donors in the community as well as community grants/community development. There are many different community grants and corporate gifts that help United Way do great things in communities such as provide financial classes, literacy classes, and other types of helpful education that people need to be successful. These are just a few examples of grants received and what United Way has done with them.

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The first years of childhood build the foundation upon which a lifetime of learning is established. Early childhood education programs in Rockford supported by United Way are designed to make this foundation strong and stable. Time and again, studies have shown that quality early childhood education sets children up for success not only in kindergarten and grade school, but in later life as well. Early education has such a profound impact, in part, because the majority of brain development occurs by the time a child is five years old. Additionally, early childhood education sets children up for academic success by encouraging school readiness.

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MoveTheMiddleNow dolly-parton United Way 211 Make a difference in our community: Volunteer FamilyWize Drug Lookup Tool
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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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