Author Archive for United Way SWCO

TEAM UP: RESULTS STATEMENTS

During the inception of Team UP, 8 desired results statements were decided upon by the community to guide their work. These results statements are:

  1. Every child is born healthy and thriving*
  2. Every child enters school ready to learn*
  3. Every child progresses to high school graduation at or above grade level
  4. Every youth reaches adulthood able to pursue his or her full potential
  5. Every child is living in a safe and supportive home and school environment*
  6. Families have access to affordable health and behavioral health services*
  7. The community celebrates diversity
  8. Families are able to support themselves on a living wage
Montezuma and Dolores Counties voted on which statements they wanted to prioritize for their first Action Teams. Those statements have an asterisk above. Each of our seven Action Teams falls under the guidance of one of these, and at times, like with the Family Engagement Action Team, they are guided by more than one. These statements help to focus and inspire each team’s work. It is a long term goal of Team UP to address all of these statements.

Contact:
​Jessica Randell
Team UP Coordinator
919.414.4860
jessicar@unitedway-swco.org

Team UP is a Collective Impact Initiative in Montezuma and Dolores Counties, bringing together a wide range of individuals and organizations, all working towards a common goal – improving outcomes for kids from cradle to career. Since this is a broad goal, Team UP Action Teams focus on more specific topics, such as Family Engagement, Child Maltreatment Prevention, Behavioral Health, Food Security, Youth Mental Health, the importance of Early Childhood development, and Early Childhood Education Expansion. United Way of Southwest Colorado serves as the backbone organization for Team UP.

Help us continue our work. DONATE

AmeriCorps Spotlight: Drew LaPlaca

Member: Drew LaPlaca
Position: Youth Empowerment Champion
Host Site: Piñon Project Family Resource Center
Hometown: Mansfield, CT

What do you do with Team UP AmeriCorps? I am the Youth Empowerment Champion serving at the Piñon Project in Cortez. I expanded all of Piñon Project’s youth programs, including Open Gym, After-School Program, Boys to Men (a weekly circle for supporting teen boys at South West Open School that also does monthly adventures), Sources of Strength (a suicide prevention program), and Extended School Year days. I will also be working on our summer program, which will include everything from doing community service and volunteering with local businesses to water balloon fights and Fortnite tournaments.

What is the best part about your service? A new project that I’m currently working on is creating a library for the youth who attend Piñon Project Programming. I hope to create a culture of reading among Cortez youth, which will nourish their already strong imagination, empathy, and intelligence. I hope my Term of Service is providing a trusted young adult in the lives of local kids. The most rewarding thing so far has been spending time with the kind, hilarious, and inspiring children of Montezuma County.

Why did you join Team UP AmeriCorps? I wanted to do AmeriCorps because of a presentation they had at my high school. It seemed like AmeriCorps was a great way to improve the world and travel on a budget. Team UP AmeriCorps appealed to me specifically because my mother spent a lot of time in Colorado. Actually, my first and only dog was named after the town of Mancos, but we pronounced it Mane-kos; I immediately found it funny that they liked the area so much that they named their dog after it without even knowing how to pronounce the town’s name correctly! What really sealed the deal though was the opportunity to work with kids in elementary school and middle school.

What do you wish others knew about serving with AmeriCorps? AmeriCorps does a great job of providing novel experiences. From the top down, people are looking to support you. I moved across the country as a seventeen year old without a car and the transition was quite easy due to the compassionate and trusting leaders in AmeriCorps and at my Host Site.

What is your plan after your Term of Service? My plan after this year is to join the Pacific Region of AmeriCorps NCCC. I got accepted last week, and look forward to continuing my AmeriCorps experience, this time with more of a focus on learning technical skills and spending more time with people my own age. Team UP AmeriCorps has been one of the best things to ever happen to me, and I hope my next term of service will be too!


If you are interested in helping with similar projects, check out our positions for our upcoming program year, starting in September 2020. You can view all position descriptions here.

If you are interested in learning more about how to become an AmeriCorps member with Team UP AmeriCorps, please contact Team UP AmeriCorps Program Director Al Huckins @ alh@unitedway-swco.org

CAN YOU HELP? A full-time AC member costs about $32,000 per year.
United Way secures grants and contributions to cover approximately $18,000. We ask host sites to raise/obtain the other $14,000 (which is a bargain for a full-time person with benefits). Donors can contribute to further reduce the cost for a non-profit to obtain this wonderful support. Recommended contribution to offset the AC cost = $500 or more. DONATE

Spotlight: Rose Jergens

Rose Jergens, Executive Director of Four Corners Child Advocacy Center has been involved with Team UP’s Collective Impact Initiative since its start. She is an active member of the Montezuma Steering Committee and the Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Team. She is so supportive of Team UP that she did the following interview twice, when a tech error deleted the first recording.

Jessica: How did you become involved with Team UP?

Rose: Originally, the whole reason why I wanted to be there was to integrate trauma informed processes into the work that we were doing. I wanted to make sure that whatever we were doing in our community, we were thinking about traumatic events that children and family have experienced – Adverse Childhood Experiences, and all of those pieces – that we understood that those things really impact the way people live their lives. I wanted to make sure that those were core values of the Collective Impact work. 

Jessica: What excites you and brings you joy about the Team UP work?

Rose: We’re all capturing that spirit of what Collective Impact is. Originally even when we came together to collaborate, we were collaborating from our silos and not letting other people fill in the gaps. I think that what we’re doing is trying to figure out how to clean up gaps in service. That’s what I’m seeing with Team UP: bringing all those ideas about ways we can serve families to the table. And we’re getting better and better at it all the time!

There’s a piece about the work we do that forces us into a silo, and we are experimenting now with letting that go. Within Team UP, we are building trust, and we are building relationships. We’re learning how to rely on other organizations. It’s more than just sharing our resources – it’s sharing our families’ experiences. I get a lot of joy out of the trust that I’ve built with all of the other agencies. 

Jessica: What are your goals for Team UP?

Rose: I am excited about how we’re learning to utilize AmeriCorps members. A lot of Action Teams come up with these really great ideas, identifying and addressing gaps. We come together as a group and we’re passionate about this issue, but then we have to figure out how to meet those needs. A lot of times, we can’t stretch ourselves or our staff any further. Being able to bring on an AmeriCorps member to run those projects and help realize our vision is so valuable. My hope for the future is that we can continue to utilize their strengths and meet many, many more needs. 

I’ve been really impressed with how the Food Security Action Team has utilized their AmeriCorps member. I hope that the Child Maltreatment Prevention Action Team (CMPAT) will be able to utilize ours to that great of an extent. I feel like when I come together with the CMPAT, we are one – we are not our organizations. That’s the beauty of putting together our action plan: to see that this isn’t a Four Corners Child Advocacy Center function – this is a CMPAT function. This is something that we have all agreed upon and know needs to be done. We are figuring out the answer to, “But how do we do it?” and then we can bring on our AmeriCorps member to work with each of our agencies. I’m eager to see how it will be for that person to be serving for multiple agencies, but with one goal in mind. To me that’s super exciting, and I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to continue to do this.  

Jessica: What Team UP work do you feel proud of?

Rose: Our Food Security Action Team really demonstrates what it looks like to collectively work together. I think that their AmeriCorps member probably helped a lot because that individual is bringing all of their visions together to promote a unified action. For me, just seeing their work and how they’ve grown gives me a clearer vision of what Collective Impact is, and the ability to actually visualize it. WOW – I can’t stop bragging about how awesome the work that they’re doing is. 

Jessica: Is there anything else about your work with Team UP that you’d like to share? 

Rose: Being part of the Montezuma County Steering Committee has been really valuable. A lot of it has to do with being able to feel like, within my organization, I can have a bigger vision because I have Team UP to take my ideas to. It might feel impossible for just me, but I have all those partners there, and we can make sure we are working together. And it’s more than that – I don’t have to feel like I have to do all the heavy lifting! Having this group of folks who potentially have pieces of that puzzle helps lighten the load for me. 

Right now I’m thinking about some new programming, and in order to do it there has to be a lot of pieces and resources in the community that already exist. I can try to create those services or I can trust that, when I’m ready, I can go to Team UP and I can say, “OK we’re ready to launch this program to serve this population and there are pieces that I can’t do.” And I don’t really need to, because another agency might be better suited to do that. 

Sometimes it takes a while for you to really understand what you are getting out of your participation and to get what this Collective Impact spirit is. I am a part of this community, I serve these same populations of folks, I see that I’m learning a lot and I see what we can create together.


Jessica Randell
Team UP Coordinator
919.414.4860
jessicar@unitedway-swco.org

Team UP is a Collective Impact Initiative in Montezuma and Dolores Counties, bringing together a wide range of individuals and organizations, all working towards a common goal – improving outcomes for kids from cradle to career. Since this is a broad goal, Team UP Action Teams focus on more specific topics, such as Family Engagement, Child Maltreatment Prevention, Behavioral Health, Food Security, Youth Mental Health, the importance of Early Childhood development, and Early Childhood Education Expansion. United Way of Southwest Colorado serves as the backbone organization for Team UP.

Help us continue our work. DONATE

Team UP AmeriCorps and Food Security

Awareness of food insecurity in our communities has been on the rise as the impacts of COVID-19 continue to affect so many individuals and families. Montezuma County’s local food pantry, The Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry, has been working overtime to meet community member’s food needs during this crisis.

One of the initiatives that has been started in part by Team UP AmeriCorps member Leah Smith, based at The Good Samaritan Center & The Good Food Collective, is the creation of garden boxes for community members to start growing some of their own fresh produce.

This past week, Leah and other community volunteers worked hard to build garden boxes out of old bee hive boxes. Thanks to so many folks pitching in, the Good Samaritan Center will be distributing boxes and donated starters to some of their clients! The Good Samaritan Center is still on the hunt for more gardening supplies. If you have additional supplies to donate, please contact Leah at montezumacounty@goodfoodcollective.org!

If you are interested in helping with similar projects, check out our Food Security Coordinator and Food Systems Coordinator positions for our upcoming program year, starting in September 2020. You can view all position descriptions here.

If you are interested in learning more about how to become an AmeriCorps member with Team UP AmeriCorps, please contact Team UP AmeriCorps Program Director Al Huckins @ alh@unitedway-swco.org

CAN YOU HELP? A full-time AC member costs about $32,000 per year.
United Way secures grants and contributions to cover approximately $18,000. We ask host sites to raise/obtain the other $14,000 (which is a bargain for a full-time person with benefits). Donors can contribute to further reduce the cost for a non-profit to obtain this wonderful support. Recommended contribution to offset the AC cost = $500 or more. DONATE

Join Team UP AmeriCorps

Team UP AmeriCorps members serve to improve the well-being of children & families in Southwest Colorado. Our members provide direct service to improve outcomes in Education, Economic Opportunity, & Healthy Futures.

We are currently searching for our next cohort of 15 members to join our team, starting in September 2020. These members will serve at various locations throughout Southwest Colorado for 1 year. Members receive a monthly living allowance, insurance (F/T), child care assistance (F/T), mileage reimbursement, countless training and professional development opportunities, and an education award upon successful completion of their term.

Who: Anyone with a passion for service between the ages of 18-99
What: A one-year commitment to community and service (view full list of open positions here)
When: Positions start on September 3, 2020 (but apply today)
Where: Various non-profit organizations & schools throughout southwest Colorado, including:

  • San Juan Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES)
  • Montelores Early Childhood Council (MECC)
  • Pagosa Peak Open School
  • Battlerock Charter School
  • Children’s Kiva Montessori School
  • Piñon Project Resource Center
  • Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County
  • Housing Solutions for the Southwest
  • Four Corners Child Advocacy Center
  • Reaching Our Community & Kids (ROCK)
  • STUDents tackling UNhealthy Decisions (STUD)
  • Dove’s Nest Childcare Center
  • The Good Samaritan Center Food Pantry

Why: Because now, more than ever, our communities need you!

How: To apply to be an AmeriCorps member, you will need to create an account with the AmeriCorps Recruitment System. You can find all live Team UP positions on the AmeriCorps website here by typing “Team UP” into the Program Name search bar and clicking “Search”. Once on the listing page, click “Apply Now” and you will be prompted to create an account with the AmeriCorps Recruitment System. Please also email your resume and cover letter to Team UP AmeriCorps Program Director Al Huckins @ alh@unitedway-swco.org.

Note: United Way values the diversity of our community. In principle and in practice the diverse nature of our board, staff, and volunteers is recognized as one of our best assets. We respect each individual’s unique gifts and prohibit unfair or discriminatory practices against anyone because of age, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and any other protected category.

A Mother’s Day Tribute

United Way of Southwest Colorado’s Most Active Volunteer

Meet Christine, though she’ll tell you that you can call her Chris.

Although her first job was working for the telephone company, she worked many volunteer hours before that in the thrift store that my grandma owned. In her early 20’s, she gave birth to me and by her late 20’s she had become a single mother. In looking for work, she applied to both the Police Academy in Denver and to the local Air Force recruiter at the same time. The Air Force called her back first and so we spent the next 15 years of her Air Force career in San Antonio, Texas. Determined to keep me in the same high school during this period, she successfully changed fields in the Air Force multiple times: supply, recruiter, and contracting. Her time in service also helped pay for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, all while working part-time as a waitress and nightclub singer to help make ends meet. I never knew we were poor until I looked back and realized the dark apartment with the tiny black and white television on a plastic table were not ideal. For instance, though I had a bed, my mom slept on an inflatable mattress on the floor. After retiring from the Air Force, she went to work for the Federal government, retiring for a second time just a few years ago. After a month-long visit to the area, I helped convince her to relocate from Aurora to Cortez, where she has now resided for nearly two years as she hones her skills as a leadership and life coach.

In this past year, by my calculation, she has worked well over 300 volunteer hours for United Way of Southwest Colorado: picking up items for our Radiothon, working a full day for the Bloomers Chocolate event, helping with registration and photos for our Archuleta golf tournament (as well as taking photos for our Prohibition party), repeatedly loading and unloading event materials, stuffing hundreds of envelopes and folding piles of letters. Although I’m sure her first motivation was to simply hang out with me and be my encouraging sounding board, she also gave her hard-earned money for every donation request I made to support a cause she believes in. She also offers her life coaching skills for free to veterans and has recently completed domestic abuse training so she can volunteer as an advocate. I know how extremely blessed I am to have her in my life after my recent stroke. Not only did she drop everything, hop on my emergency transport flight, and spend every day with me for a month at a hospital in Grand Junction, she also cared for me herself for an additional month in her home while I recovered.

Chris is about service to her country, her family and her community. I call her Momma.

Jodi Jahrling
Marketing, Events, and Digital Initiatives Manager
United Way of Southwest Colorado

On this Mother’s Day United Way of Southwest Colorado pays tribute to all mothers who make daily sacrifices for their family and still find time to give back.

FEAT on Facebook Live

The Team UP Southwest Colorado Family Engagement Action Team (affectionately known as FEAT), in Dolores County, has had great success over the past year hosting Facebook Live events on a wide range of topics that are beneficial to families. Some of the topics covered have been:

Each event is hosted by Kay Daves, long-time Dove Creek resident and active community member, and features a community member expert on the topic at hand.

The most recent event was “How to Manage Stress Without Losing Your Mind,” with Annie Stiasny, Dove Creek School Counselor. While this was recorded pre-COVID-19, the tips and information are very pertinent to the current time.

Check this video out, or any of the other past topics at: https://www.facebook.com/TeamUPSWCO/videos/

Contact:
​Jessica Randell
Team UP Coordinator
919.414.4860
jessicar@unitedway-swco.org

Team UP is a Collective Impact Initiative in Montezuma and Dolores Counties, bringing together a wide range of individuals and organizations, all working towards a common goal – improving outcomes for kids from cradle to career. Since this is a broad goal, Team UP Action Teams focus on more specific topics, such as Family Engagement, Child Maltreatment Prevention, Behavioral Health, Food Security, Youth Mental Health, the importance of Early Childhood development, and Early Childhood Education Expansion. United Way of Southwest Colorado serves as the backbone organization for Team UP.

Help us continue our work. DONATE

AmeriCorps: Turning Service into Education

Did you know that, in addition to receiving a living allowance throughout their Term of Service, AmeriCorps members also receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of their term? The Segal Ed Award amount is tied to the U.S. Department of Education’s Pell Grant, so the exact amount changes but last year it was just over $6,000 for full-time members. That’s $6,000 that members get to put towards past and/or future educational expenses!

    • Members have up to seven years from the end of their service to use their Segal Ed Award.
    • Members aged 55+ may transfer their award to a child or grandchild.
    • Members may use their funds to repay student loans or pay current expenses at eligible higher-ed institutions or training programs.
    • Many institutions offer a match award to AmeriCorps members.
    • During their Term of Service, members are eligible to have the repayment of their qualified students loans postponed while serving (loan forbearance).
At Team UP AmeriCorps, we understand that education can look different for everyone, so we encourage our members to get creative using their funds. While our members still have four months left of their Term of Service, they’re already starting to brainstorm how to use their Segal Ed Award.
Leah, our Food Security Champion in Cortez, plans to use the funds to support her goal of traveling to Spain to get her Master’s Degree in a Global Innovative Management Program. Leah plans to use her degree to continue in Food Security by working on agriculture and food security projects in Spanish-speaking communities.
Jamie, our Early Learning Champion in Cortez, has been going to school to earn her degree in Early Childhood Education while serving as an AmeriCorps member. (She’s been one busy gal, and we can’t thank her enough!) She plans to use her funds to pay off school loans so she can join the Early Childhood Education workforce after her term.
Lexi, our Food Security Champion in Pagosa Springs, is thinking about using her funds get her Wilderness EMT certification so she can combine her love of the wilderness with her commitment to helping people.
There are so many ways that AmeriCorps members choose to use their Segal Education Award. Just as the service that AmeriCorps members perform during their Term of Service affects our community for years to come, we also believe that the benefits AmeriCorps members receive (both tangible and intangible) also affect their lives for many more years!


If you are interested in learning more about how to become an AmeriCorps member with Team UP AmeriCorps, please contact Team UP AmeriCorps Program Director Al Huckins @ alh@unitedway-swco.org.
OPEN POSITIONS

CAN YOU HELP? A full-time AC member costs about $32,000 per year.
United Way secures grants and contributions to cover approximately $18,000. We ask host sites to raise/obtain the other $14,000 (which is a bargain for a full-time person with benefits). Donors can contribute to further reduce the cost for a non-profit to obtain this wonderful support. Recommended contribution to offset the AC cost = $500 or more. DONATE

Team UP’s Food Security Action Team

Food Efforts Update

In response to Covid-19, Team UP’s Food Security Action Team has joined forces with The Montezuma Food Coalition to address the community’s food needs through multi-agency collaboration. The Coalition has expanded its network and breadth of work to include Montezuma and Dolores Counties and Tribal and Indigenous Communities in The Four Corners region. Through weekly team meetings, and bi-weekly regional calls, emergent needs are discussed, resources combined, and food distributed. The Coalition strives to be attentive to the current and ever-changing needs of our community during this crisis and to provide support to individuals and organizations as efficiently as possible. If you would like to support these efforts, please feel free to join one of our calls, which are open to the public.

Contact:
​Jessica Randell
Team UP Coordinator
919.414.4860
jessicar@unitedway-swco.org

Team UP is a Collective Impact Initiative in Montezuma and Dolores Counties, bringing together a wide range of individuals and organizations, all working towards a common goal – improving outcomes for kids from cradle to career. Since this is a broad goal, Team UP Action Teams focus on more specific topics, such as Family Engagement, Child Maltreatment Prevention, Behavioral Health, Food Security, Youth Mental Health, the importance of Early Childhood development, and Early Childhood Education Expansion. United Way of Southwest Colorado serves as the backbone organization for Team UP.

Help us continue our work. DONATE

Team UP AmeriCorps

What is AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs committed to addressing critical community needs. Approximately 75,000 people across the country commit to AmeriCorps each year. When someone decides to commit their time to the greater good by becoming an AmeriCorps member, they take the following oath:

I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy, I will take action.
Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity, I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.

AmeriCorps Member Update

United Way of SWCO currently hosts eight AmeriCorps members, all of whom took this oath on their very first day of service. The current pandemic has brought challenges and adversity to every community, and our members have served as beacons of light in these difficult times as they have continued to persevere. They have found ways to adapt their service to respond to needs arising from COVID-19. One member, serving in Food Security in Pagosa Springs, sent take-home garden kits to her students to share with their families during the stay-at-home order. Many AmeriCorps members in Cortez have come together to collect and distribute food and resources to community members in need. Through all of this, members are also adapting their original programming to be done virtually in order to continue to be able to support their clients while maintaining distance. As we all continue to adapt our lives to the changing times, our AmeriCorps members continue to serve as an example to our community.

Learn more about UWSWC’s current Team UP AmeriCorps members here. These members will continue to serve their communities through the end of August, and a new cohort of members will take their oath and start their year of service in September 2020. If you are interested in serving with Team UP AmeriCorps, contact Team UP AmeriCorps Program Director Al Huckins @ alh@unitedway-swco.org.

CAN YOU HELP? A full-time AC member costs about $32,000 per year.
United Way secures grants and contributions to cover approximately $18,000. We ask host sites to raise/obtain the other $14,000 (which is a bargain for a full-time person with benefits). Donors can contribute to further reduce the cost for a non-profit to obtain this wonderful support. Recommended contribution to offset the AC cost = $500 or more. DONATE