United Way of Knox County, Ohio Inc
Update June 2020
This year has introduced a new normal for Ohioans and members of our Knox County community. We have had strong guidance from local and state government and healthcare leaders. It has been challenging, but the response of our community is encouraging. Before we know it, we will eating out and shopping local to support our businesses that have struggled during this crisis. That is just the way we care for each other in Knox County. For years, United Way has used the slogan “all things are possible when we LIVE UNITED.” It resonates right now, during this pandemic.
On Monday, June 1, United Way of Knox County office returned to business hours 9am to 4pm, Monday through Friday. Please call the office at 740.397.5721 to reach staff directly or email liveunited@uwayknox.org
Application for COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Grant Funds
United Way is accepting online applications from 501(c)(3) agencies for investments through a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery grant process.

United Way seeks to deliver value to the Knox County Community by strategically investing in programs that will boost long-term recovery and resilience. Applications submitted should be specific to program efforts that are either expanded or introduced in response to the pandemic and will help our community recover from the impacts of it. The process for completing an application is available online. Please contact Program Director, Elizabeth Doolittle with questions.
United Way looks forward to providing detailed feedback to our donors. Information provided to the community will include a report of how the donated dollars are distributed and the community impact of those allocations.
Federal Emergency Food and Shelter Funds Awarded in Knox County
Knox County has been awarded Federal funds to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county, the Knox County Commissioners and United Way of Knox County Ohio, Inc. This award is in two parts including Fiscal Year 2019 annual funding in the amount of $26,268 and COVID-19 supplemental funds in the amount of $37,451.

The selection was made by a national board chaired by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. The board consists of representatives from American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, The Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide. The local board was charged to distribute federally appropriated funds from Congress to help expand the capacity of food and shelter programs in high-need areas around the country.

The local board is chaired by Knox County Commissioner Teresa Bemiller and co-chaired by United Way of Knox County Ohio, Inc Executive Director Kelly Brenneman for Phase 37 and Phase CARES. The board determined how the funds awarded to Knox County are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies.
Knox County has distributed emergency food and shelter funds for Phase 37 with The Winter Sanctuary Emergency Homeless Shelter. Knox County has distributed emergency food and shelter funds for Phase CARES with Alcohol & Drug Freedom Center of Knox County, New Directions: Knox County’s Domestic Abuse Shelter and Rape Crisis Shelter, The Salvation Army of Mount Vernon, Apostolic Christian Church food pantry, and Covenant Church food pantry. Funds awarded will support free food programs, mass shelter, emergency shelter, rent and mortgage assistance, and utility assistance. United Way of Knox County Ohio, Inc has been selected to provide administrative staff support to the Local Program.

“We are pleased to be able to grant needed funds to our community partners,” replied United Way Director Kelly Brenneman, “The increased funding that was available in Phase 37 and the CARES Phase was a welcomed surprise and just reinforces the importance of our community members completing the Census this year. This is a prime example how the government funds become available.”
Power of the Purse Goes Online for 2020
The Women United affinity group of United Way of Knox County Ohio Inc has made the decision to hold an online Power of the Purse Auction, partnering with Jagger Auctioneers, instead of holding a traditional live event.

This unique event will take place online the week of October 12-16, 2020. “This was not an easy decision to make,” remarked United Way of Knox County Ohio Executive Director Kelly Brenneman. This event is a major funding source for our Women United projects each year. Due to COVID-19 and the social distancing challenges that this event would present, we felt it best for Women United to take a year off and wait until we were comfortable holding an event with over 250 ladies safely.”

Power of the Purse does include an online auction each year with mid-range purses and Brenneman feels that it can easily be converted to the main event. “Our online auction grows every year as we continue to offer great name brand purses. We realize that the online auction will not be as powerful as our traditional event, but this is not a normal year and we are taking lemons and making lemonade,” said Brenneman.

As the event gets closer, more information will be released and shared with Women United. To donate a new purse to the auction, please contact United Way at 740.397.5721 or email lindsay@uwayknox.org.
Youth Activity at Home
United Way proudly provided summer exercise equipment to help keep kids moving all summer! Families were invited to stop by the YMCA of Mount Vernon front desk to pick up an exercise ball, 5-2-1-0 water bottle and Crunch Out workbook!

The YMCA and Thrive Kids Fitness provided free online #thrivethursday workout videos. The workouts show kids and families how to use the balls at home for a great workout.

Throughout the year, United Way supports the YMCA's Community Wellness program, which provides financial assistance, goal and progress tracking, and community events (nutrition education) to the community.
There are also exciting updates to the Youth Enrichment program. The YMCA offers Youth Enrichment with the help of United Way and other community partners including OSU Extension Office, Knox Community Hospital, Ohio Eastern Star Home, and Psi Iota Xi Sorority.

Youth Enrichment has continued throughout the year. When families were required to stay at home, the YMCA and Youth Enrichment partners provided online video programs using common household supplies. Now that the YMCA is open to guests, Youth Enrichment To-Go will provide families with activities and supply kits with the materials required to complete them. Each Monday throughout the summer will feature a new program and a new kit. A limited number of kits will be available for families to pick up each week while supplies last. Additional details will be shared through the YMCA of Mount Vernon Facebook page.
SPI to Go
Take a break from screens, and mindfully re-integrate children into public life in a managed way in outdoor settings. SPI to Go also includes PRIZES! CLUES! FUN! and is supported in part by United Way of Knox County Ohio, Inc.

A note from SPI Executive Director, Stephanie Calondis-Geiger:
Operations like SPI - indoor recreation facilities, museums, and the like - are actually not yet cleared by the state to reopen to the general public because of the nature of our facilities. One positive outcome of these stressful times is that it has created a unique opportunity for our team to be reflective together and do some professional development about what it is that makes SPI, SPI. It's not just access to the cool gear and tools available inside our space at Wright Center. It's not even primarily about the science or math (STEM) content that is the lens through which we pursue program development. We are at our heart an organization that enables discovery and family engagement and play-based learning together.

During this period of closure our staff has been grappling with how to prepare some versions of our usual summer camp programming and to adapt what we normally do in our space to a new "to go" format. On that second goal, we've come up with two versions of packages. One is for families with school agers - called "SPI to GO: X Marks the Spot." The other package is "SPI to Go: Stories & STEAM" for families with preschoolers and toddlers. Families participating in Stories & Steam will receive a free book.

Families who register for the free program will have the opportunity to pick up and enjoy packets with activities to do at home or at featured destinations in the Knox County community. Families must sign up in advance for both versions to ensure that there are enough kits and that SPI can adhere to public health directives for distancing and group sizes. Availability is somewhat limited at first, until demand and logistics have been measured.

Why this way instead of putting out online content? 
We have a sense that there is an abundance of really good original online content out there and that families need a break from screen time after all of the online schooling these past months. SPI's niche and preferred method of engagement is through the creation and distribution of very "tangible" things for local families to do together at home and at places that are unique to our community.

SPI knows families are clamoring for as many things to do this summer as possible to bring back a bit of fun and normalcy to their kids lives. Our kits for "X Marks the Spot" include indoor activities for those extra hot or rainy days, as well as prompts for outdoor adventures when everyone needs some fresh air and exercise.

SPI's responsibility to the health science element - introducing the "SPACED CADETS"!
Another really cool element of this is that if kids are accompanying parents in their cars during pick-up - they'll get to see models of what it looks like to integrate back into public life in a safe and managed way. Some costumed SPACED CADETS as "mascots" will be on site at pick-up to help kids visualize social distancing and our staff will be wearing masks (and speaking to families through voice amplifiers) while they remain in their cars or in designated zones per family. We plan to also demo a different "no contact" greeting each time. These are just little ways we can help put this thing in context."

How do families sign up? 
"SPI to Go: X marks the SPOT" is for families with school agers in grades k-5 and featured a RIVER theme for the first program opportunity on May 30. On June 13 and 14, STEAM-y Shangri-la kit was available and SPI was on site at Schnormeier Gardens. Families can still participate by Picking up a kit on June 16 at SPI Spot at Wright Center for use during ANY of the Gardens open house hours in June. Future programs will be announced on Facebook and will require reservation for participation.

"SPI to GO: Stories and STEAM" is for families with preschoolers and toddlers. The first pick up date was June 2. Future programs will be announced on Facebook and will require reservation for participation.

For details on how to sign up, visti SPI online at facebook.com/spispot or sign up for the SPI text alert system by texting SPI2GO to 33777.
We aim to make United Way activities a reflection of Knox County's priorities. We rely on community volunteers to lead the process, we strive to LIVE UNITED.
Local Health Officials Are Seeking Donations For Use In Knox County
Information on donating fabric face masks and commercial protective equipment is available online. Read the full details prepared in partnership with United Way, Knox Community Hospital, and Knox Public Health online.

American Red Cross Blood Drives
Public Health is currently a large concern. Cancelled appointments and drives put the country at risk for a blood shortage. Healthy eligible donors are encouraged to give back to their community by donating blood. Upcoming opportunities to give can be found online.