The United Way of Portage County has 33 partner programs and strives to make a difference within Portage County. This includes the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point community.
United Way is committed to researching and understanding the needs of a community.
Those needs are then addressed by use of the partner programs, assistance from volunteers, donations and resources.
By addressing the underlying causes of problems within the Portage County community, the United Way is able to create long-term solutions and measurable results.
Since UWSP lies within the community, the students, faculty and staff can access the programs and gain the help they need.
Individuals may be involved in one of three ways explained Sue Wilcox, Executive Director for the Portage County United Way.
“United Way offers programs that are available to students, faculty and staff at UWSP, some departments offer internships in some of the partner programs for students, and other students volunteer for United Way related programs,” Wilcox said.
Fundraising, donations and the help from individuals throughout the community, allow the United Way of Portage County to distribute assistance and financial need where necessary.
Students who are directly impacted by United Way take advantage of the services provided for those in need.
Chris Sadler, a professor of Communication at UWSP, as well as a United Way board member, has seen situations where students are directly affected by United Way related programs.
United Way funds the Crisis Center and continues to provide assistance to those in need,” Sadler said. His communication 240 class alsoinvolves a project where students work with United Way to find out why people do or don’t donate and where those individuals reside, on or off campus.
This research helps the program better understand it’s community members and works to benefit all those who are involved or eligible for assistance.
Others may be indirectly a part of United Way through the partner programs that they sponsor, but many individuals aren’t aware of that.
“Students often volunteer for the YMCA and other programs. Those are volunteer opportunities where people wind up doing them and don’t realize they are United Way supported,” Sadler said.
Every year, UWSP allows students to sign up for Make a Difference Day. This program is sponsored by United Way and gives community members the chance to volunteer their time one day in Oct. to rake leaves for citizens who are unable to do so themselves.
“It is amazing to see so many volunteers come together and actually make a difference. Seeing so many people working at the same time has a dramatic impact on the community,” said Kristen Donkle, a UWSP senior.
This year, Make a Difference Day falls on Saturday, Oct. 26.
“We continue to look for volunteers for all programs relating to United Way, including Make a Difference Day,” Wilcox said.
Students may sign up to help with any United Way program at volunteersrock.org.
Students may also sign up for Make a Difference Day through their UWSP account by searching SIEO and selecting the “Service Saturday” link under the Volunteerism column, and then by going to the Oct. 26, Make a Difference Day link.
“Make a Difference Day gets the campus involved with the community. United Way and the United Way agencies do such good work in the community. It is wonderful to see how they help students directly and indirectly,” Sadler said.