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Tanya Hasbargen/United Way: A learning community is a healthy community

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BEMIDJI — Education means different things to different people.

For some, it’s purely academic, while for others it may be developing life skills. To the United Way of Bemidji Area, education means helping children, youth and adults achieve their full potential. And while academic success is important for building a strong educational building block in one’s life, so are other aspects of our lives. Having a safe environment that supports solid decision-making, trusted adults and relationships that provide support and simply having opportunities to learn new things, are all important aspects of education within our community.

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Because of United Way’s financial support, people of all ages have an opportunity to achieve their full potential. Tutors have provided more than 4,000 hours of reading time with area elementary students. A total of 1,950 students with special and exceptional needs had one-to-one assistance on improving reading skills, thanks to Lutheran Social Service’s Foster Grandparents and the America Reads program provided through Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. Communication and conflict resolution skills were developed in 5,288 elementary students by Peacemaker Resources. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts worked with 806 area youth, who participated in scouting events and leadership development. Civil Air Patrol developed leadership and emergency response experiences to its 12- to 21-year-old cadets.

United Way supports Evergreen Youth and Family Services, with 463 families receiving support as they experience a youth or family crisis, and at the same time, providing a safe place for 195 youth to be at the Evergreen House while working through a crisis. Evergreen Kinship North brings together adult volunteers with at-risk youth to offer stability, asset building, enrichment, support and friendship. These efforts build a stronger foundation for our community’s youth to begin to thrive in other areas. The Boys and Girls Club provides a supportive and enriching environment after school and during the summer for 461 area youth. And Timber Bay focuses on building relationships and providing a trusted adult for approximately 650 older at-risk youth.

Bemidji is fortunate to have established a strong United Way over the past 27 years. United Way of Bemidji Area works with area businesses, individuals, and non-profits and is currently investing $307,663 in the community. United Way has a committee of 16 community members who review applications, financial statements and make visits to each agency. The process of which non-profit agencies, and how much the United Way will invest in Bemidji, is very thorough and well-determined. The financial support is critical for many of these non-profits to continue to provide services.

Thank you for considering support of United Way and for making a world of difference in Bemidji. It takes each of us to come together and care for the wonderful community we have in Bemidji. So, sign up to donate through your workplace, visit UnitedWayBemidji.org to give online, or mail a donation in to the United Way office at Box 27, Bemidji, MN 56619. Make a world of difference. Support United Way of Bemidji.

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