Community Connections: United Way proudly celebrates 35 years of serving county | SteamboatToday.com

Community Connections: United Way proudly celebrates 35 years of serving county

Ashley McMurray/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Since 1983, Routt County United Way has dedicated their work to improving the lives of Routt County residents through four key impact areas: early childhood education, youth success, health and crisis and financial stability.

Routt County United Way is excited and proud to serve this community for the past 35 years.  United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of all in Routt County through supporting agencies and programs in their four impact areas.  Even more importantly, every dollar raised stays in Routt County. To launch their agency into another successful 35 years, Routt County United Way has also launched a legacy endowment fund.

Some highlights of RCUW's work over the past three and a half decades include the following.

Early childhood education

Why is early childhood education one of our key impact areas? It is because 90 percent of the brain is developed by the time a child reaches age 5.  Learning begins when the baby is born.

  • Since 1999, United Way has invested 1.5 million in preschool scholarships.
  • 2018 United Way launched the Imagination Library – 477 children signed up to receive free books in their name sent to their home on a monthly basis.

If you'd like to get involved in supporting early childhood education, consider joining Women United, a group of like-minded women that focuses on early childhood literacy and education.

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Youth success

In an effort to help young people be successful and safe, The Routt County United Way has funded and supported several youth organizations since their inception in Routt County, including Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Partners in Routt County and Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Colorado. They have also funded after-school and summer programming in Hayden and South Routt and supported special needs, such as the Yampa Valley Autism Program.

To get involved, you can donate children's boots or coats or volunteer at the Holiday Exchange Market in December, sign up for the after-school homework club or read to elementary school aged children, or sign up for our annual Day of Caring, where a third of the volunteers are younger than 18.

Financial stability

Routt County United Way helps and supports families to become financially stable and self-sufficient. To this end, they brought the Bridges out of Poverty program in 2010 to Routt County, which has now morphed into the successful Routt to Work program that has graduated nearly 75 individuals on their path to self-sufficiency. United Way also provides financial literacy through their Ask a Financial Professional free series and budgeting seminars. To get involved, you can donate a food item or your time to their annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Health and crisis services

Routt County United Way believes that every resident should be healthy and safe.  They fund Home Health, which cares for people in need at home after surgery, as well as our domestic violence shelter, suicide prevention training, LiftUp emergency services and mental health services. They also provide prescription discount cards and a 2-1-1 human service helpline. To support health and crisis services, volunteer for bell-ringing between Thanksgiving and Christmas where all funds raised go to crisis services.

To learn more about Routt County United Way, visit routtcountyunitedway.org.

Ashley McMurray is president of InSite Media, Inc.

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