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United Way Holds Semester Kick-off Event

By Linda Abel
University Communications

FEB. 23, 2009- The University of Wisconsin-River Falls Student United Way held its spring semester kick off seminar Feb. 12 in the University Center.

Campus founder and UWRF alumna Kate Smith, along with United Way St. Croix Valley Executive Director John Coughlin, and Brad Caskey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and local board chair, spoke at the event addressing the mission of the Student United Way and some projects it has been working on.  

The purpose of the Student United Way is to “get students involved in the community and work together with other agencies to help those in need,” said Smith.  

According to Coughlin, many people confuse the United Way as an annual charity fundraiser, however the United Way offers a variety of other services as well. It was the intent of the speakers to educate interested students on the partnerships, projects and services United Way has to offer.

Partnering with the Salvation Army and other local charity groups, the United Way SCV has been able to purchase a warehouse that has been converted into a food shelf, which is supplied by donations and local grocery stores, including Supervalu.  

Along with providing food for the people who can't afford it, United Way, along with the Salvation Army, has also converted a convent in Somerset into a temporary homeless shelter, called Grace Place, offering a home for 24 people at a time.

“The people who come here are not the typical inner-city homeless people, but they are people like you and I who have fallen victim to unfortunate circumstances,” says Coughlin.  

Success by Six is another program developed by the United Way to assist new mothers with childcare education and skills and to enhance children's literacy, interpersonal and intellectual skills. The service is provided in and out of the child's home from birth to age six.  

“Community is the heart and soul of the United Way,” explains Caskey. Caskey said he believes that the Student United Way is a way to help students reach their full potential in not only life but in school, building communication and critical thinking skills.   Linda Alvarez, interim advisor in the UWRF global connections and advisor of the Student United Way, hopes the organization will keep growing. “Everyone who is involved in the United Way is an asset,” she said.            

Student United Way meetings will be held March 5, April 9, and May 7 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the Red Cedar Room of the University Center. For more information, contact Kate Smith, United Way St. Croix Valley, at 715-377-0774.


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