Strengthening Relationships and Aligning Resources!

lindsey_edwardsby Lindsey Edwards
Woodrow Wilson Community School Coordinator

Woodrow Wilson Elementary teachers and Hser Ner Moo staff are working together to improve student outcomes! It is fair to say that teachers are heroes in the communities they serve, but the teachers at Woodrow Wilson Elementary truly LIVE UNITED!

All of the kindergarten and first grade teachers volunteered their time, after school hours, to visit the Hser Ner Moo Neighborhood Center, where the majority of Woodrow WIlson refugee students attend an afterschool program. The teachers wanted to visit Hser Ner Moo to speak with parents in order to build relationships and strengthen their ties to the community. It was a great opportunity for the parents to see how committed the teachers are to their students’ academic success, and for the teachers to see where their students live and what type of programming is available to them after school. It was such a great experience that the teachers invited the Hser Ner Moo afterschool program staff to come and observe them in the classroom.

One week later, the afterschool staff spent two hours rotating through the kindergarten and first grade classrooms. They were able to watch the teachers give small group instruction on “blending” and “sentence formation” techniques, both of which help students learn to read. The teachers even gathered supplies and additional lesson plans for the center staff to take back with them. Now the afterschool staff will have access to the same materials used by teachers in the classroom! Both the teachers and center staff are committed to aligning out-of-school time with in-class instruction, as it is important to them that their students have access to high-quality afterschool programming offsite.

The students’ eyes lit up when they saw their afterschool instructors entering their classrooms at school. At first they were so surprised to see the center staff during the school day but it was a great way to show the students that their teachers and afterschool instructors are willing to work together in order to support their academic achievement!

Woodrow Wilson teachers and the Hser Ner Moo staff are genuinely dedicated to changing the odds for kids in South Salt Lake!  Thank you for your commitment to improving academic outcomes for students and for LIVING UNITED!

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Hands on with the CEO of Savage!

by Domoina Voniarisoa
Hser Ner Moo, Project Coordinator

The Hser Ner Moo Community & Welcome Center was very honored with the visit of Allen Alexander, the CEO of Savage, along with the Executive General Counsel. Hser Ner Moo often receives visits from dignitaries of companies and organizations who want to tour the Center, but Mr. Alexander’s visit was unique. He and his colleague came as part of their organization’s daily tutoring services to Hser Ner Moo students.

Since the start of the afterschool program this year, Savage has been consistently sending two of their employees everyday to Hser Ner Moo to run an academic-based enrichment activity for students who have no homework. This was made possible through the Center’s partnership with United Way of Salt Lake. Savage is one of the many organizations who have toured the Hser Ner Moo Center and their employees decided to become more involved in bringing change to the community. Serving in the center’s afterschool program seemed to be a great fit to many Savage’s employees. They all take turns to come to South Salt Lake, where the Hser Ner Moo Center is located, and donate their time to enrich the lives of the Center’s elementary school kids.
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Mr. Alexander and his colleague provided an engaging science activity with the kids. They grew crystals in the shape of snowflakes that deeply captivated this young audience. Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center strongly values this kind of partnership where the passion for changing the odds is made visible even from the CEO of a company.

Thank you Savage, for LIVING UNITED!!

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What LIVING UNITED is all about!

shannon_2010by Shannon Harmon
Leadership Giving Director

Thank you to these amazing companies who took the time and made the effort to makes someone’s holiday a little brighter!

Savage Services: Savage came together to provide holiday gifts to 11 families who live at the South Parc apartments. Employees purchased the gifts and visited the complex to knock on doors and meet families served by the Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center.

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Automated Business Products: Employees provided gifts to 2 families in the South Parc apartment complex. One family mentioned they needed bikes for transportation and ABP worked with the Bicycle Collective to provide bikes.

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jcpenney, Internet Business Solutions, and CHG: jcpenney and CHG gathered gifts provided by their employees and gave them to children as part of the Oquirrh Hills afterschool program. jcpenney and Internet Business Solutions helped to put together a holiday party for the kids that included frosting sugar cookies. The kids were very excited and shouted a big “THANK YOU!” after they simultaneously opened their gifts!

IMG_4765Thank you to each of these companies for LIVING UNITED
over the holiday season!

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Harland Clarke Volunteers at Hser Ner Moo!

by John Davidson
Guest Blogger

I was very glad to be one of the volunteers on United Way of Salt Lake’s Day of Caring! We had the opportunity to go to Hser Ner Moo, one of United Way of Salt Lake’s Community Learning and Welcome Centers, and learn a little bit about what what they do and how they got their start. It was great to see that a Community Learning Center such as this was located right inside a large apartment complex. This facility provided child care, education programs, parenting classes, and ELS courses just to name a few. It was a great opportunity to see what the efforts of United Way of Salt Lake and their donors have built over the years.

One thing that struck me particularly hard was something the director of the location said. She told us that one of the most common things the center helps with is helping people read and respond to their mail. I really thought about that and imagined how hard it would be to live in a place where everything (including your mail/ bills) were in a language you didn’t understand and how difficult that would be. To most of us, reading our mail could be seen as a bother–but to those who may not be able to read in the local language, it can be like being lost and not knowing how to ask for directions.

Our project consisted of entering data from surveys that had been distributed to a few of the local schools in the area. These schools were located in low-income neighborhoods and some of the information that came through on those surveys was very eye-opening. Some households had families of six or more living off of 10-20 thousand a year. I cannot begin to imagine how hard that would be for those families. I couldn’t help but feel extremely fortunate as I looked around the computer lab we were in. Some of us had our headphones in–listening to music on our smart phones, and conversations about family and events from the weekend could be heard. And, we were all lucky enough to have a job that allowed us the opportunity to go and provide service to others. How fortunate we are!

Thank you to United Way of Salt Lake for this great volunteer opportunity!

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There is no existing information for many of the indicators specific to our neighborhoods; places like Kearns, or Park City, or South Salt Lake, or West Valley.  There is no public source for data such as how long parents are able to read to their children per day, or how many hours of physical activity each family member is getting.  This means that United Way of Salt Lake, as a backbone organization to our partners, must take this on.  To do so, we are taking advantage of student registration and other back-to-school events to gather this data from families via an anonymous survey.  As you can imagine, we have been busy over the last few weeks and months collaborating with our Community Learning Center schools, ensuring high rates of return, gathering the filled out surveys, and entering the data.

Here is what Harland Clarke accomplished:

Harland Clarke Hser Ner Moo data entry session
8 people working on Granger Surveys
305 family surveys in 3 ½ hours

7 people working on Kearns Surveys
211 family surveys 3 ½ hours
 
516/15= 34 surveys per person

205/34= 6 minutes per survey for a given volunteer

THANK YOU, HARLAND CLARKE, FOR LIVING UNITED!

Skyline Women’s Soccer Helps at Hser Ner Moo!

by Ann Spencer
Guest Blogger

The Skyline Women’s Soccer team visited, for the third year, the Hser Ner Moo Welcome Center.  These darling sisters stole the hearts of the team during the previous two year’s service project at the Hser Ner Moo Welcome Center on 500 South and 2200 East in Salt Lake and they did it again this year!  The welcome center serves immigrant and refugee families as they settle into their new lives in Utah.

Many of the parents are struggling to learn English and working to support their families.  The center was started in an empty unit to provide the resident children with a safe place to go after school.  The Utah Food Bank donates meals and paid staff and volunteers provide homework assistance and supervise fun activities.  In 2012 the center was expanded and now comfortably accommodates the children as they eat their after school snack, complete homework by hand or use the computers in the upstairs lab.

The soccer team members generously volunteered their time to read to the littlest children,  help the older children with homework and kick the soccer ball around on an adjacent field.  Until recently, the field was an abandoned lot.  Two years ago Community volunteers donated sod and sprinklers to turn it into a soccer field for the complex.

Everyone had a great time speaking the universal language of soccer.  The team members enjoyed their third annual visit on September 5, 2012 and look forward to having the children from the center attend a soccer home game at Skyline High School later this year.

Through collaborative partnership among United Way of Salt Lake, the City of SSL, Granite School District, and numerous other partners, the Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center provides comprehensive supports for families and youth. This includes tutoring, ESL classes, computer training, meals, high quality infant/toddler classes, and enrichment activities. The Center serves as a resource for South Parc apartment residents (where the Center is located), as well as for the broader community. Volunteers, community partners, and intentional collaboration are what make the Hser Ner Moo Community and Welcome Center a vital resource for the South Salt Lake community.

Stars Align for South Salt Lake!

by Shannon Harmon

Resource Development Executive

The Hser Ner Moo Welcome Center recently celebrated their grand re-opening.  Thanks to strong and powerful partnerships, the center was renovated to give residents of South Salt Lake a place to gather that is much bigger than before.  We are all excited to see South Salt Lake residents enjoy their new space!  From classrooms, to a computer lab, to meeting rooms and even an official office for the staff–every square inch has been remodeled and made bigger and more accessible.  But celebrating and telling the story of the remodel wouldn’t be complete without sharing how the center’s shiny ‘new-to-them’ copy machine came to be.

A few weeks before the Welcome Center began construction, the staff mentioned the need for a copy machine.  Although normally a staple to every office, the staff was unable to make copies on site.  This was problematic, not just for a convenience but it also presented yet another barrier to those who frequented the center and needed to make copies for a variety of reasons like applying for jobs or providing documents for their child’s school.  Around the same time Hser Ner Moo mentioned their need, Lee Christensen from Automated Business Products (a company whose employees donate to United Way), called and told me that he has access to old copy machine that still worked and may be of use to programs who work with United Way.  Perfect!! It couldn’t have worked out better!  It seemed like the stars aligned just in time to find a new home for an old copy machine.

The staff at Hser Ner Moo mentioned a need and instantly we had a way to fill it thanks to Automated Business Products.  One big hooray for Collect Impact!  Yet another reminder that it’s not just about nonprofits doing great work in our community but businesses, faith-based organizations, foundations, school districts, cities, and essentially everyone coming together to help change the odds for an entire community.

I had the opportunity to visit the center with Lee just before it re-opened to the public. We met up with Domoina Voniarisoa, the project coordinator at the center.  She was so grateful and excited to see the copy center in their newly remodeled office.  Lee laughed as he said that he doesn’t see very many people so excited about a copy machine but realized Domoina’s excitement was for a good reason.  Although small, one less worry about where to make a photocopy for residents of South Parc apartments means one less barrier to ultimate success!

A BIG thank you to Automated Business Products for their generosity and commitment to the community.  Without such generosity from their employees as well as the corporation, United Way and all of its partners wouldn’t be able to change the odds for thousands of children and families in our community.  Here’s to what it means to LIVE UNITED!

South Salt Lake Updates!

by Chelsea Nelson

Communications Director

There are so many good things going on in the neighborhood of South Salt Lake and we wanted to share them with you!  February and March have proven to be very positive months!  Here are a few updates on some of our Community Learning and Welcome Centers.

PAL Pete Suazo Boxing and Welcome Center

Mr. Hugo Hernandez was honored with an award at the police banquet as PAL student of the year for his improvements in academics, his first boxing win and his overall attitude.  In attendance were his father, sister, along with various city dignitaries.

The center is finally up to full staff with the addition of three new boxing coaches.
The center has begun its ACT Prep classes for 9-12 grade students.  This occurs every Thursday from 5-7pm with different subjects covered each week which culminates in the option to sign up for and take the test on April 14th (Saturday).

Granite Park Jr. High

This year Granite Park Junior High experienced a successful parent teacher conference. There were several students and their parents who stopped by the Grizzly Academy booth. There were also over 150 surveys filled out to help United Way with some baseline data.

The Grizzly indoor soccer league has begun and started out with a great success. Several students are signed up and competing every Tuesday and Thursday. Soccer is one of the biggest sports offered in the program.

Woodrow Wilson Community Learning Center

The tax van, provided by The Beehive, came to Woodrow Wilson and served three people this year, compared to the zero who took advantage of this opportunity last year. Computers were set up in the faculty room and the volunteer tax professional helped guide the online tax filing. The Mobile Health Clinic was extra busy this month with 60 people served. The spots for appointments filled up fast and there were still many walk-ins who came hoping to get a spot.

All staff positions at the Woodrow Wilson CLC are now filled. This has allowed the CLC to take all the students off the waiting list for the Afterschool Program; there are now 116 students enrolled! One of the students who had been on the waiting list would check-in every day to see if there was a spot for him yet.

Hser Ner Moo

The Hser Ner Moo Center has a select number of teenagers who play soccer regularly with the HNM team. They work on developing their skills and knowledge on the game under the direction of Coach Mike Osheku, one of the Center’s Prevention Specialist staff. Recently, a few of the teens decided to try out for the local high school soccer team. Undoubtedly, two of them made the team; one of them is on the Junior Varsity, and the other made the Varsity team. Congratulations to the two teens! The Center and staff wish them good luck on the upcoming soccer season!

Villa Franche

The after school program is filling up with students and volunteers and has come alive with activity and academic endeavors.

One student is now bringing homework to the after school program. Marcel still needs a little extra help because he is still far behind his peers in 7th grade.  He struggles with reading, and does not yet know colors. This information can help the Villa Franche staff find better and more intensive ways of working with him, the goal is to find someone to work with him 4 days a week.

Another boy’s academic and English skills continues to improve every day, and he enjoys helping others with homework or reading. He doesn’t always bring homework, but the Villa Franche staff are honored that he prefers to be at the Center and not running around on the streets or watching television.

One young girl is a beautifully spirited individual and intuitively knows when people need help.

she is always there to help with clean-up projects, to help carry boxes, or to motivate the others to help.  However, she continues to struggle with her alphabet, both with recall and writing. One of the biggest fears is that she will become frustrated and stop trying to learn; The Villa Franche program staff will continue to work with her and not forget to include other activities that she enjoys.

We are so happy to hear about all the great success happening in South Salt Lake–and this is just a snap shot!  Please be sure to click on the names of the Centers to find out more about where they are located and what services they provide.