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Published: Tuesday, 9/11/2012

United Way: Toledo's backbone

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Today, United Way of Greater Toledo kicks off its 2012 campaign with a goal of $13.8 million. To some, a financial goal is just another number. But this community campaign is different, just as this United Way is different.

Nationwide, a student drops out of school every seven seconds. The effects don't end with that child or neighborhood. Many of us have felt the economic effects of the dropout crisis in our community. Others have felt serious related consequences, such as financial instability, unhealthy lifestyles, and increased crime.

Improving graduation rates improves communities, research shows. United Way's number-one priority is helping more kids graduate. From a financial perspective, $13.8 million will help maintain and increase the substantial progress United Way and its partners are making, with your help.

Traditionally, our United Way was solely a fund-raising organization, collecting money and distributing it to many organizations doing good work. In recent years, however, it has narrowed its focus, concentrating its resources on graduating kids through strategies for education, income, and health.

United Way has seen excellent outcomes by focusing on such strategies as providing 39 AmeriCorps graduation coaches who have worked with more than 500 students, increasing school attendance and decreasing suspension rates.

The Stable Families Collaborative has helped 97 percent of 225 school-aged children who faced homelessness stay in school. The Weekender Program has sent 30,000 bags of healthy food home with 1,200 students, ensuring they returned to school on Monday fed and ready to learn.

I wish I could personally educate every person in this community about the eye-opening things I have learned over the past few months. United Way has the unique ability to see the big picture. It knows the issues, identifies solutions, and brings the right people and resources together to execute them.

We all want our community to thrive, but we often look around and say: Who's going to do it? United Way is the backbone around which our community makes a difference. It reflects the people who give, work, and live here.

I ask you to step up to the challenge. A financial gift is the most straightforward way to show your support for the community we all call home. Reach out to your neighbors and make a contribution to United Way — through your workplace campaign, by calling 419-254-4667, or by going to unitedwaytoledo.org.

Our community needs you. Our kids need you. Now is the time.

Randy Oostra
President and CEO ProMedica Richards Road
Editor's note: The writer is chairman of the 2012 United Way campaign.

Flag at half staff to honor the fallen

I agree with the writer of your Aug. 15 Readers' Forum letter "Flag at half staff now overused." However, the right to lower the U.S. flag to half staff is also reserved to the governor in the event of the death of any member of the Armed Forces from the state while serving on active duty.

This country is still at war in Afghanistan. Our brave men and women deserve this honor for their ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Keith Kruse
Springfield Township



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