Wishing you health and happiness this Holiday Season and prosperity in the New Year.
Even at this busy holiday season I think it is important to look back at the past year and spend a little time celebrating successes and dreaming about new goals for 2014. I am proud of the partnerships with schools, nonprofits, government agencies, for profit organizations, and funders that our program has been able to develop in furthering our mission of strengthening communities through lifelong civic engagement. The staff of Partnerships for Strong Communities and the students who work with us have done a wonderful job of collaborating with community members and organizations in areas of literacy, education, healthy behaviors, volunteer engagement, nonprofit capacity building, and the promotion of civic engagement.
We concluded a long-term project called Seniors and Volunteers for Childhood Immunization this year but began a new program called Coming of Age: North Texas that focuses on baby boomers, both as individuals and as volunteers. If you are or know a boomer that is transitioning from full-time work check out our "Explore Your Future" workshops that use powerful activities to help determine "what's next." To find out more, join us for a free Lunch and Learn Mixer at Dogwood Estates in Denton on January 16th.
From helping preschoolers and elementary children develop reading and other skills to training nonprofit professionals to create and promote purposeful volunteer opportunities for boomers and seniors, and promoting wellness across the generations and throughout the lifespan, it's been a good year at Partnerships.
I wish you a wonderful holiday season, and look forward to working together to strengthen our communities in 2014!
Pamela J. Sybert, Director
Partnerships for Strong Communities
Clockwise from left: Mary Harris volunteering at Tiny Tykes, children doing activities, children getting a brand new copy of "Giraffes Can't Dance" and making their own pet giraffes.
This year, our volunteer and service learning program Success for Life through Reading (SLR) donated 10,445 books to local preschool children. This was made possible with grants of $6,875 from State Farm Insurance, $4,609 from Denton Benefit League, $3,000 from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, and $2,000 from the Target Foundation. Over 160 amazing volunteers contributed more than 1,185 hours to write curriculum for Spanish titles in our inventory, keep the office organized, and conduct weekly interactive reading sessions for over 51 infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms. Some of these volunteers contributed their time at Denton’s Mayor’s Mile on the cold and rainy morning of October 5, running a fishing station for kids and handing out extra books from the SLR inventory. For the first time ever, we hosted a Denton Breakfast Kiwanis (DBK) Reads Week. SLR readers and DBK members conducted reading and activity sessions together at several of our partner agencies. We are indebted to the many volunteers who keep our reading program strong and all of our partner agencies that share their classrooms with us to strengthen the community. We are grateful to our generous donors and with the help of continued support we anticipate adding 4,850 brand new books to our shelves ready to be donated to children in need in the spring semester. If you would like to volunteer with us in the spring, please contact Katy Newman.
Clockwise from left: Participants in the Mayor's Mile, Mayor Burroughs leading the charge, more walkers and runners, SLR volunteers staff the fishing station at the Age Well ~ Live Well booth
Age Well ~ Live Well, a collaborative initiative between UNT, TWU, the City of Denton, the Area Agency on Aging, and nonprofit partners, was thrilled to take part in planning the first community wide Mayor's Mile in Denton! Although there was a fierce cold snap on October 5, more than 500 attendees came out to walk with Mayor Burroughs and to take part in all of the activities offered at the event. There were eight vendors/booths at MedPark Station that morning providing health and wellness related information, including Denton Regional Medical Center, American Heart Association, Get Covered America, Health Services of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and of course Age Well ~ Live Well. There were plenty of children’s activities including the “balloon guy”, face painting, and Parks and Recreation games. It was a joy working with the Parks Department, TWU, Denton Regional, and DCTA on this fun-filled and health-centered event. Follow Age Well ~ Live Well on Facebook for healthy tips.
Clockwise from left: Amma Cottrell with Cannon Flowers, a strategic planning volunteer; Pamela Sybert, Victoria Jones of C. C. Young, and LouAnne Smith; Pamela Sybert, Remis Jason of Coming of Age: New York, and Sandra Aust of Coming of Age: Kansas City presenting at the American Society on Aging Conference in Chicago, March 2013; Kathy Dreyer, Pamela Sybert, and Explore Your Future participants including Doug Wuenschel, a strategic planning volunteer.
Did you know that an American turns 50 every seven seconds? What does this mean for our community? Think about it. As this cohort looks to downsize from full-time employment, consider the vast amount of skills, knowledge, and expertise walking out of the conventional workforce and into a new phase of life. Coming of Age: North Texas' seeks to ensure this expertise is used in a meaningful and lasting way. The mission of Coming of Age: North Texas is strengthening communities through contributions of people age 50+. Coming of Age: North Texas serves Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties with programs designed to connect the highly valued skills of people age 50+ with the nonprofit sector, building the capacity of organizations throughout the region.
Over the past year, more than 51 individuals age 50+ have experienced the Explore Your Future seminar through Coming of Age – engaging in rich discussions and thought-provoking activities. Additionally, more than 62 nonprofit professionals have attended our Learning Lab called Capturing the Energy and Expertise of People 50+, challenging their current volunteer programs to better appeal to boomers.
If you are interested in learning more about the Explore Your Future seminar, join us for a Lunch and Learn Mixer at Dogwood Estates January 16, 2014. RSVP by 5:00 pm on January 9 to reserve your seat!
Ashley Shepherd and Alyssa Wolverton
Congratulations to Ashley Shepherd and Alyssa Wolverton for being awarded the Chuck Fuller Servant Leadership Award in recognition of their leadership efforts in the Nonprofit Student Leadership Association (NLSA). Ashley and Alyssa bring a new, bold vision to the organization and serve as great examples for club members. Ashley is a junior seeking a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Studies & Bachelor in Social Work and Alyssa is a sophomore Integrative Studies major.
The Chuck Fuller Servant Leadership Award is designed to recognize students who are committed to careers in the nonprofit and public service sectors and to provide opportunities for recipients to develop applied leadership skills. The award is both recognition of the students’ willingness to lead and to serve, and a reminder of the type of leadership we all strive to provide to our communities. The Chuck Fuller Award was created through the generosity of donors in honor of Chuck Fuller, a long-time University of North Texas staff member who was dedicated to student success. Visit NLSA's Facebook page and find us on Orgsync for information about meetings and events.
Now in its 10th year of operation, America Reads continues to assist families whose children are in need of extra help in school. America Reads tutors are federal work study students who work with children at Newton Rayzor Elementary Monday-Thursday afternoons. The tutors are responsible for writing and enacting their own lesson plans, maintaining a safe and accepting learning atmosphere and creating a team dynamic among their group. This past year 50 tutors and more than 25 volunteers served more than 100 children in grades K-5. We want to thank Newton Rayzor for their participation in the program, and for all of the tutors and volunteers that worked with the kids to improve their academic success. We look forward to another wonderful semester of learning and growth in the spring. To learn more about federal work study or volunteer opportunities, contact America Reads.