Summer 2020

Merriam-Webster defines philanthropy as:

1: goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially: active effort to promote human welfare; 2a: an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes; b: an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes

Philanthropy is alive and well in Mahaska County. We see it everyday at the United Way of Mahaska County. It is tempting in these difficult times to put ourselves first and to turn away from the plight of the most vulnerable and most in need. Instead the shadow of COVID-19 in our community has shone a light on the generosity and compassion of it’s members. We have received daily calls asking how people can help and our Volunteer Mahaska website’s traffic has increased.

When the United Way of Mahaska County created a COVID-19 relief fund, the donations came pouring in. This fund raised over $18,000, which has been distributed to four local agencies. Mahaska County YMCA will be using their funds to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies for sanitation. Ecumenical Cupboard and Love INC will direct their funds to assisting people with food, rent, and utilities. Iowa Legal Aid will use their funds to provide legal support for COVID-19 related cases.

Mahaska County, you have made sure that your neighbors, co-workers, and friends are taken care of. In a time of global uncertainty and fear, this reminds us of the strength of our community, your care for all of its members, and re-ignites our hope for the future.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

A Note from the Director

We’re all in this together. Should that be our theme for 2020? I think that maybe this should be our theme every year. We are all in this big world together. We are all here to help our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. In fact, when you look at what you have done in the past, I would imagine that you could say “I have volunteered” or “I have donated money.” Yes, the year 2020 has made us more aware of how we are in this together.

This year has had some challenges, but I refuse to say that it is a horrible year. One might say it is a pivotal year. This is a year that we get to stand up and see what we an accomplish together. And we have already achieved so much — volunteers came out to help feed kids during the school year, we have supported others through donations, people stepped up to support our graduates as they prepared to end their school year, and so much love was given to the Oskaloosa Police Department when they lost one of their own. I know these things happen each year, but this year we are focusing on it; we are talking about it. This is our pivotal moment to shine a light on the things we are doing, the things we are seeing, and how we are making our community better.

This newsletter includes so much information. In fact, this time I decided to include an area called “What Has United Way Been Up To?” This will allow you to see at a glance some things that might not have made it into a feature article.

In this article, you will also meet Mycah. She joined our team in February and has been busy updating our website, keeping our social media afloat, making flyers for our upcoming events, and managing our Volunteer Mahaska Website. If you see Mycah when you are out and about please welcome her to the team.

Warmly, Michella

What has United Way been up to?

  • In January, we held our first annual MLK Day of Service in partnership with Penn Central Mall
  • Throughout the winter, we held our Winter Coat Drive (thank you to everyone who donates!).
  • In February, we started our VITA Tax site. This was put on hold due to COVID, but has started up again.
  • Michella attended the Great Rivers Conference with United Ways from all across the states. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and learn.
  • A Spirit Week was held on social media at the beginning of COVID.
  • Our Take Along program was able to continue throughout the year. This program picked up some new volunteers and school officials hand-delivered the food weekly to families.

Meet Mycah

Mycah Hansen joined the United Way staff in February of 2020. Mycah was raised here in Mahaska County, went to Oskaloosa Public Schools, and graduated from William Penn University in December 2019 with a BA in Human Services and Psychology. In the spring of 2019, Mycah interned at United Way and became passionate about United Way’s mission and goals within the community. “I’ve always had a passion to help people, and United Way allows me to help people of all ages and backgrounds. Working here has been a very rewarding and positive experience so far!”

Your Gift, Their Story

Third grade Joey started out hating to read. He had little to no motivation and extremely limited fluency. He would enter the room with his Reading Corp tutor and put his head down on the desk and refuse to participate. Through the program, Joey gained skills, confidence and his fluency soared. With greater confidence in reading, his behavior concerns in the classroom disappeared and he was engaged and eager to learn. Joey was successfully exited from the Reading Corp program during his third grade school year.

This year we were able to fund 21 programs from 14 agencies and continue allĀ  of our internal programs. Thanks to everyone who contributed – every dollar counts.

Thank You

Mahaska County | MidAmerican Energy | Clow Valve Co. | TDT CPA’s and Advisors | Musco Lighting and MCG | Mahaska Chamber and Development Group | Oskaloosa Elementary School | Oskaloosa Bus Barn | Oskaloosa Middle School | Oskaloosa High School | Oskaloosa Central Office | William Penn University | Great Southern Bank | MidWestOne Bank | Imagine the Possibilities | City of Oskaloosa | Edward Jones | Cargill-Eddyville | Bank Iowa | TruBank

Funded Partners

4-H Foundation | Agency on Aging | Big Brother Big Sister | Crisis Intervention Services | Ecumenical Cupboard | Food Bank of Iowa | Habitat for Humanity | Homelessness Coalition | Imagine the Possibilities | Iowa Legal Aid | Love INC | Mahaska Health Partnership Hospital Foundation| Oskaloosa Education Foundation | YMCA

YMCA staff with items they purchased with COVID-19 relief funding

Summer lunch pick up

United Way staff are showing off their favorite Dr. Suess book during Virtual Spirit Week