Oct 04, 2011
Humboldt State University will start groundwork Friday, Oct. 14 for the campus share of the 2011 fundraising drive of United Way of the Wine Country for the Humboldt/Del Norte region.
President Rollin Richmond will announce the effort online to the university community, a United Way flier will provide details campus-wide and HSU department volunteers will issue campaign materials Oct. 14. The department volunteers also will assist with completing pledge forms and returning them to Mary Stuart at Y.E.S. House by Nov. 4.
United Way of the Wine Country comprises five northern counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma. Their combined fundraising goal this fall is $3 million versus last year’s $2.7 million.
United Way programs center on three “building blocks”—education, income and health.
Humboldt State’s drive will spotlight Schools of Hope, a one-on-one early literacy program to meet the needs of kindergarten through second grade students. Through the HSU Teacher Preparation Program link with Schools of Hope, HSU student volunteers read to children on a weekly schedule to bolster their literacy.
Under the Decade of Difference: 2020 Initiative of the Humboldt County Office of Education and United Way, Schools of Hope was launched in 2010 at 14 schools in kindergarten and first grade classes in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. Children meet with trained volunteer tutors to build their critical reading skills.
The need is great. The latest research shows that 55 percent of third grade students in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties scored below proficient in English/Language Arts.
HSU joins in United Way’s coordinated effort to close the reading gap in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, in partnership with
Offices of Education, school districts, literacy specialists, community volunteers and local businesses.
“Schools of Hope has quickly begun to raise test scores for lagging students,” says Steve Smith, Dean of HSU’s College of Natural Resources and Sciences and chair of Humboldt State’s United Way fund drive. “Better reading skills improve youngsters’ confidence in all their studies. Strong reading ability also greatly increases the likelihood our youngsters will graduate from high school and lead productive lives.”
On the income front, United Way provides trained call specialists through the Community Switchboard to connect those in need to resources that help families stabilize their finances. Through this free, confidential information and referral center, callers learn how they can save money, use key information services and get support in times of crisis. Income assistance is provided through such programs as VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program, Women and Children’s Fund, the Cal Fresh Program and the Humboldt Housing Now Program. Information and referral numbers are available at 1-877/460-6000.
In the health sector, United Way helps with the FamilyWize program, a free service that provides prescription drug discounts.
Gabrielle Parkinson, United Way’s Humboldt/Del Norte regional manager, notes, “United Way offers all of us an opportunity to ‘live united’ and find positive ways to come together to support and strengthen our north coast communities. A good example was this year’s recent Day of Caring Event, co-sponsored by Humboldt State and United Way. It mobilized more than 400 HSU and community volunteers to offer work services via 33 participating community agencies, with two Kiwanis Clubs hosting their annual barbeque.”
Information about Schools of Hope and other United Way sponsored programs will be distributed on campus when campaign materials are issued Oct. 14. Details are posted at www.unitedwaywinecountry.org/schoolsofhope.