United Way of Greater Fort Dodge
Building Stronger Youth,
Stronger Families
and a Stronger Community

Making a Difference
United Way of Greater Fort Dodge remains committed to helping individuals and families that are struggling with poverty and other social challenges that make their lives very difficult. We are committed to helping low income kids and their families so they can overcome obstacles, live stable lives and improve their personal well-being.

This newsletter highlights a few examples of the important work United Way is doing in our community, thanks to the support and generosity of so many United Way donors and supporters.

Randy Kuhlman, C.E.O.
United Way of Greater Fort Dodge
24 N. 9th Street, Suite B
Fort Dodge, IA 50501
515.573.3171 rk@fd-foundation.org

United Way of Greater Fort Dodge is Awarded a Grant
to Help Promote Vaccinations

United Way of Greater Fort Dodge has landed a grant from United Ways of Iowa to help promote COVID-19 vaccinations in Fort Dodge and Webster County. United Way will be partnering with the Webster County Health Department and other healthcare providers to encourage those that are unvaccinated to “get the shot.”

Vaccination is the best line of defense against COVID-19 and the Delta Variant and other new strains as they evolve. The Delta Variant of the virus was first confirmed in Iowa on May 4, and it is the predominant strain circulating in Iowa and in Webster County today.

People who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are most at risk. According to the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health, fully vaccinated people have protection against COVID-19 and the Delta Variant. In fact, recent studies show that vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing serious illness with the Delta Variant circulating.

Recent studies indicate that adults under 50 were 2.5 times more likely to become infected with the Delta Variant than with the COVID-19 strain we were dealing with in 2020. National hospital data shows that 97% of patients hospitalized in the past two months with COVID were unvaccinated. Research also shows that vaccines are 96% effective at preventing hospitalization, meaning the average unvaccinated person in the study was more than 25 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than those who are vaccinated.

Vaccines continue to be available in Fort Dodge at Daniel Pharmacy, Hy-Vee, CVS, Target CVS and Walgreens; and they are FREE.

For more information on how you can get vaccinated,
call Webster County Health Department at 515-573-4107,
or contact any local pharmacy.
The Joy of Reading
Joy of Reading is a United Way program that provides free books for children. It was started to honor the memory of Emily Joy Averill, a young woman who aspired to be an elementary school teacher. Emily lost her life in a tragic car accident, but her vision lives on in the lives of all the children who receive free books and can truly enjoy the joy that can be found in reading.

The Joy of Reading JoyMobile van travels to various locations in our community to distribute free books.  It has been to the Oleson Park Splash Pad, Duncombe School, the Aquatic Center, AFES, and various parks.  Children can get free books when the JoyMobile makes its weekly visits.

Joy of Reading also hosts live stories that are read LIVE on the Joy of Reading Facebook page on Thursday evenings at 7pm. Area principals, teachers and community volunteers do the reading – it’s fun, different and an interesting way for children to hear new stories.

Joy of Reading makes reading fun and accessible – and keeping this program active during the summer months helps students keep their reading skills sharp.

United Way of Greater Fort Dodge knows that reading proficiency is crucial to all other skills children must learn. The Joy of Reading Program helps to ensure that all children in our community have access to quality books to help them become strong readers.
Humanitarian Fund-Neighbors Helping Neighbors
The United Way of Greater Fort Dodge Humanitarian Fund is used when a family is in crisis and could use a “helping hand.” It may be help with a utility bill so a family’s electricity or water isn’t turned off. We often find that people are in crisis due to circumstances beyond their control, such as a serious illness of the main wage earner or a child’s illness that prevents a parent from working.

We recently helped a family with three young children. The father has a full time job at a local manufacturing facility and the mother was off of work because she recently had a new baby. Due to complications with the birth, the dad had to take time off work to stay with the other two children and to help his wife and the new baby. Unfortunately, they got behind on their water bill and their water was turned off.

Living in a home with three children and no running water – it is hard to imagine how difficult that would be. At first, the family was hesitant to ask for help because the father felt pride in taking care of his family. One of our partner organizations referred the family to United Way and we were able to help with the water bill. What a relief for the family, the children and most of all, for the needs of the new baby. Because of United Way’s “helping hand,” the family was extremely grateful for this one-time assistance during their time of crisis.

For lower income families, emergency situations like this can happen, and when they do, they can find themselves is a serious crisis. These families usually do not have a safety net or other family support to help them. This is another way United Way helps families through unforeseen challenges so things don’t spiral out of control.

Being there to help a disadvantaged family during a crisis is an important part of our mission. We want today’s children to live in safe and stable households so they can enjoy good health, achieve in school and grow up to be happy, productive and stable members of society.
Hope for Healing

HOPE is the little voice inside you that’s comes from your heart and whispers to you “maybe” when it seems your whole world is telling you “no.”
Everyone needs “hope” in their hearts and in their lives, especially those who are facing a serious medical emergency that may be life threatening or life changing.
When a family is facing a serious illness of a child, the stress of dealing with this crisis can be overwhelming. Especially if the family has little or no discretionary funds to cover the extra costs of that come with a health crisis. There are many socioeconomically disadvantaged families in Fort Dodge and Webster County that lack the financial means to cover costs associated with travel to larger medical facilities for their child’s specialized medical care. These expenses include costs for gas, food, motels, etc.
United Way’s Hope for Healing fund provides financial support for disadvantaged children and their families who are facing an emergency health crisis and need a “helping hand” that will offer them resources and support that will give them HOPE to overcome their challenges.
The mission of the Hope for Healing Fund is three-fold:
  1. To provide vitally-needed financial support to families whose medical problems are not funded by insurance or other sources and they need assistance in dealing with costs associated with transportation and lodging for the child’s medical treatment.
  2. To provide funds to help low income families that lack the ability to pay for their child’s prescription drugs.
  3. To provide funds to help low income families purchase or rent much needed medical equipment for their child such as wheelchairs, crutches, oxygen tanks, etc.
When a child is coping with a serious, life-changing health issue, a family’s world immediately changes, and their one and only priority becomes getting their severely ill child the medical care he or she needs. United Way is here to lend a helping hand and a little bit of hope for healing.
United Way Helps Those
Who Cannot Help Themselves

Matthew is a young man who has been a United Way client for more than a year. He was injured in a very bad accident and has been recovering for the past three years. He has lost a lot of his eyesight and the use of his hands, but is determined to move forward to live a productive and meaningful life.

Matthew had a difficult childhood – parents with addiction and mental health needs that weren’t addressed; parents who had divorced and then had multiple partners, putting Matthew’s needs on the back burner. It wasn’t like he was actually “raised” – he just “grew up”.  He had little guidance, little emphasis on the importance of education - he was abused and neglected. Even today, as a young man in his thirties who is recovering from a severe accident, he receives no support from his mother or father. He is left to navigate the “system” on his own – which is extremely difficult with limited eyesight and use of hands, since most things require the use of a computer.

United Way is making a positive difference for Matthew. We have been able to connect him with the Fort Dodge Housing Agency and he now has a clean and safe place to live. United Way also helped him get donated furniture for his apartment through our Bridging the Gap program. We have also helped him connect with Iowa Central Community College so he can enroll in classes that will give him the training and education he will need to get a good job and become self-sufficient. We have advocated for him in a number of ways; one way was helping him get a special laptop computer specifically designed for the sight-impaired. Our relationships with local human service organizations allows us to direct people to the organizations that can facilitate the services and assistance that is needed.

Matthew has undergone many surgeries over the past three years to help him recover from his accident. This has taken a toll on his health. United Way has been there to encourage him as he lives through his painful recovery. We have also been a surrogate family for him – our office staff as well as one of our board members have taken a special interest in this brave young man.

Sometimes it just takes a little extra effort and kindness to help people move along their path and offer them a helping hand. We are happy to report that Matthew is recovering nicely from his last surgery, is enrolled in Iowa Central for the fall 2021 semester and is gaining strength and stability every day. He knows he can count on the United Way of Greater Fort Dodge to help him and that we are only a phone call away.
United Way works with many partner organizations to help clients