From the Bell Family

Blessed. Just one simple word, yet it is a word that Andy and I have found ourselves saying over and over again, especially in the past few weeks. As the holiday season quickly approaches, we are reminded of just how thankful we are for all we have been blessed with, and our thoughts turn to those in need.  It’s no secret that our nation is facing significant challenges. Our childhood poverty rate remains high; kids go hungry when they’re not in school. Older adults are alone and isolated. Parents are struggling to keep the lights on in the house and think about heating costs as the nights grow colder. Families continue to look for preventative programs in our area that can provide services for our youngest of learners.  It’s not too late to make a lasting impact on the lives of so many in our community.

A contribution to the United Way of the Bradford Area touches the lives of so many by focusing on some of the building blocks for a better life: Safety, Prevention, Stability, and Solution. Our mission is to ensure that critical funding is available for the programs and services provided by our member agencies, many of which rely on United Way funding to continue providing those key services to people who have nowhere else to go.  As you may know, the need in our community is greater than ever due to continued budget cuts to many of those funded agencies. Together, we can help children and families in Bradford achieve their full potential and lead healthy, productive lives.

Your tremendous spirit and compassion for our neighbors empowers us to accomplish great things together. Again, thank you for helping us to make a difference in our community.  Please join us by pledging your annual support to this appeal.

We are very grateful for your generosity and from the bottom of our hearts, hope that you all have a BLESSED Thanksgiving spent with family and friends.

With Thankful Hearts,

The Bell Family – Andy, Heather and Tenley

Where Does Time Go?!

We finished round 2 of school clothes shopping this weekend for my two children – one going into 8th grade, one going into 2nd.  Throughout the entire three-hour experience, all I kept hearing was “why does summer have to go by so quickly?!?”  Amen, kids.  Amen.

The end of summer means the start of the annual UWBA campaign.  Oh, and Pig Roast prep.  Have you made your reservations yet?

So, time goes by quickly.  More quickly with each passing year.  It can’t be scientifically proven, but let’s face it, it’s true.  So much changes with time.  And there are many more things that get left behind because they just can’t keep up with the increased speed at which it goes.  Time, that is.

What doesn’t change is need.  Needs themselves change.  But the fact that there is need doesn’t.  Nor does the fact that the UWBA is there to provide for the need.  So, as we kick-off the campaign in 6 short days, be reminded as you’re making your pledge this year that you’re doing good.  We can’t get a grasp on time, but we can get a grasp on our impact during our time.

Color Our World A Better Place.  There’s still time.

Being Invincible

Invincible. That’s how I would describe the 2015 Campaign Team. They are eight strong, intelligent, powerful women. They are my mentors. My heroes. But, along this ride, I have learned that physically, none of us are invincible. Since we comprised this “dream team”, we have experienced loss, tragedy, illness, unexpected twists and turns in our lives that have proven that these ladies are, in fact, human.

But, what I have learned about being invincible is that it doesn’t have to necessarily be your physical being. The drive, the heart, the knowledge…that’s what is invincible. Their legacy…that’s what’s invincible.

So, we can be rocked to our core by life. But, how you have lived, what you have taught others, and what you continue to give regardless of what lies ahead is too powerful to be destructed.

We will soon close out campaign 2015. I’m hoping we will do so having raised all and more of the $350,000 we set out to raise just a few short months ago.

Francie, Kelly, Betsy, Diana, Kris, Jane, Mary and Mary Ann…here’s to being invincible.

Celebrating 90 Years…

Over the span of 90 years, so many great things can be accomplished, and that is certainly the case at the United Way of the Bradford Area. Since 1925, more than $20 million have been raised right here in our local community – for our local community. But as great as that number is, the biggest value has been the impact made on our families and friends through the agencies which have received funding.

I think about the task that a group of community-oriented, civic-minded individuals placed on themselves when looking to implement an active Community Chest in Bradford; taking the premise of the national movement – those that had extra would give to those in need – and relating the necessity and impact to our community. Not much has changed in 90 years. Today, we continue to ask for support for those who need a hand up, rather than a hand out.

I often say that the landscape of our community would be drastically different without a successful United Way organization, and I truly believe that to be the case. There are many funded agencies that would literally close the doors without the support received through the annual campaign, and the “could nots” and “would nots” would be actual, not hypothetical.

This year, we celebrate our history, we embrace our present and we look forward to our future.

We celebrate all of you, who continue to make the United Way of the Bradford Area a success.

Thank you!

The World’s Greatest Philanthropists

Bill Gates is one of the most well-known men in the world, founding one of the largest companies in the world, creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and giving away over $25 billion.

But Bill Gates doesn’t consider himself the world’s greatest philanthropist, saying “somebody who chooses to live in Africa and work on a hospital, or someone who gives up their vacation or something they need – those unnamed, amazing people, they’re the world’s best philanthropists.”

I think this sentiment is so true of the people in our community. The image of a philanthropist in Bradford varies greatly: a professional working in a corporate office, a small business owner, a young firefighter, a City of Bradford employee who has given for decades, and the list goes on.

People donate to the annual campaign not because they have to, but because they want to make an impact on those in need. Donors recognize the benefit of giving back to the community, and budget money to be able to do so. Designating a certain amount of money from each paycheck may mean giving up a daily latte or refraining from getting candy at the vending machine a couple days a week, but for our donors, being able to “pay it forward” isn’t a sacrifice.

We agree with Bill Gates – we think you, amazing people of the greater Bradford area, are indeed the world’s best philanthropists. Thank you always for your continued support!

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90 Days Until Campaign Begins!

Spring is finally in full swing, school will be out of session soon, and everyone is planning fun, relaxing weekends – though there is probably more on everyone’s calendars in the summer, it seems like a slower pace of living. After a long winter, nobody wants to think about summer ending or what they’ll be doing this fall. Here at the United Way of the Bradford Area, it’s just the opposite – we’re gearing up for a whirlwind four months of campaigning, with the official start date coming up on August 15!

A lot of “behind-the-scenes” work goes into making sure everything runs smoothly. Speakers Bureau volunteers are signed up for employee presentations; workplace coordinators are given all the materials they need; over 1,500 letters are sent out to local residents and donors! Even more preparation work is going on right now to make sure the 2014-2015 campaign is a success.

But before we dive into full-on fundraising mode, there are a few special events coming up that embody what the United Way is all about – helping people live a happier and healthier life in the Bradford area! And since our unofficial theme for the year is “embrace change,” here are some of the different approaches to our upcoming events:

Along with the first day of summer comes the 4th Annual Live United Day of Action, scheduled for Saturday, June 21st. You’ll notice a big difference at Callahan Park – a Born Learning™ trail will be installed!

Have you noticed the date change for the annual 5K? This year’s event will be held on Friday, September 12th. In the past, people of all ages and skill levels have participated, and we hope that will be the case again!

The date for the annual Pig Roast/Clam Bake (presented by Northwest Savings Bank) is still the Thursday after Labor Day – September 4th. This will be the 16th year for this fun event, but we will be incorporating some fresh new ideas to keep things interesting!

It will be nice to enjoy the sunshine and summer months, although our excitement for the campaign period will make the eventual return to cooler weather a bit more bearable. Right now, the UWBA office will spend time getting everything ready for special events, and putting a plan in place for August 15 – January 5, 2015. Along with the campaign cabinet, volunteers, agency representatives, and board of directors, we are sure that the Bradford community will once again be successful in helping us reach our fundraising goal!


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Giving Three Cheers for Teachers!

Teachers – they’re part of our lives from kindergarten to graduation, ready to fill our heads with knowledge. May 4-10 is “Teacher Appreciation Week.” At the United Way of the Bradford Area, one of the things we advocate for is a great education, a reason why we fund agencies and programs dedicated to teaching. Those agencies most associated with a traditional learning environment are CARE for Children, YMCA, Growing with Grace Preschool, and the Strengthening Families program.

But all of our funded agencies are invested in teaching, in one way or another.

Prevention-based programs at Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services focus on positive, healthy choices and empower local schoolchildren. Staff and volunteers at the McKean-Potter Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross receive training for the disaster relief program, which enables them to better serve the community in times of distress. Activities and resources are available for older residents at the Greater Bradford Senior Activity Center and the Bradford Ecumenical Home/Chapel Ridge.

The Bradford Landmark Society and the McKean County Historical Society take us on a journey to the past, lecturing us about our region throughout the years.

Individuals with disabilities are engaged members of our community – working, building socialization skills, or participating in healthy competition – thanks to Dickinson Partial Hospitalization Program, Futures Rehabilitation Center, and McKean County Special Olympics.

CASA of McKean County, Catholic Charities, Children’s Advocacy Center of McKean County and the Family Center focus on making sure children are listened to and protected, and model healthy behaviors for their program participants.

Providing activities is important for the Bradford Youth Hockey Club, Girl Scouts of Western PA, and McKean County 4-H, giving children an opportunity to learn teamwork, hone their skills, and have a safe place to socialize.

Destinations Bradford, YWCA, and the Family Center have educational programs to teach skills their clients can implement in their everyday lives.

So, not only do we appreciate all of the educators in our local schools, but we’re thankful for those who may not be considered teachers, who play an important role in our community. Those teaching our children make learning fun and school a safe, productive place. The employees and volunteers at funded agencies educate community members on available resources and programs. All are involved in expanding the knowledge of everyone in our area!


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Thank You For Giving Your Time

This week is National Volunteer Week and is about recognizing people who seek out ways to be active in their communities, and encouraging community members to be at the center of change. National Volunteer Week coincides perfectly with the announcement of the Red Feather and Excellence in Representation award recipients. On May 1, at the Red Feather Volunteer Recognition luncheon, we will celebrate Lisa Minich, Tom Miller, Ashley Peterson and Mike Walter for their impact on the United Way of the Bradford Area.

Her involvement in the United Way annual campaigns, participating in special events, and coordinating the KOA Speer Electronic workplace presentations made Lisa a great candidate for the Red Feather award. Tom, Ashley, and Mike were passionate about speaking to workplaces on the importance of giving to the United Way campaign, and how it affected their lives through working at Futures Rehabilitation Center, a United Way funded agency.

Of course, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the many other UWBA Champions who lend their time and expertise for special events, service on the board of directors, and participation in the annual campaign. Whether you give a few hours at the Pig Roast/Clam Bake, or spend several months with us as a campaign co-chair or workplace presentation coordinator, your involvement helps make the UWBA an even more community-oriented organization. That’s exactly what National Volunteer Week is all about!

Along with Lisa, Tom, Ashley, and Mike, our many other volunteers – with their passion, fortitude and kindness – are ambassadors for the importance of volunteering.


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Celebrating Female Leadership in the UWBA

Oprah Winfrey, Melinda Gates, Helen Keller,  J. K. Rowling, Eleanor Roosevelt,  Maya Angelou, Margaret Thatcher, Gloria Steinem, Rosa Parks: These are a few of the countless women who’ve done their part to shape the world in which we live.

March is Women’s History Month, and Saturday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, so we can’t help but think of some of the women in our own organization’s history who have helped shape the United Way of the Bradford Area to become what it is today.

As the first female president of the board of directors, Mary Reiley paved the way for future leaders. Many women have chaired or co-chaired the annual campaign; Francie Ambuske was the first female in this important position. Ruth Gardner was the first female executive director and former executive director Kelly Case was the first woman to be honored with the Red Feather award. Acknowledging all of the women who’ve played a part in our organization – as an employee, volunteer or supporter – would be too long a list.

We cannot thank all of the UWBA’s “leading ladies” enough for everything they have done for our organization, and we’re looking forward to the impact that women leaders will to continue to have in our community.

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“The more that you read, the more things you’ll know!”





You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.
You’re never too busy, too cool, or too hot, to pick up a book and share what you’ve got.
In schools and communities, let’s gather around, let’s pick up a book, let’s pass it around.
There are kids all around you, kids who will need someone to hug, someone to read.
Come join us March 3rd, your own special way and make this America’s Read to Kids Day!

What is Read Across America?

The National Education Association’s Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school. Poor reading levels can lead to academic problems, which can increase the likelihood of dropping out, substance abuse, teen and early pregnancy, and criminal behavior, which all contribute to the cycle of poverty.

Here are the United Way of the Bradford Area, we want to increase literacy skills for the children in our community. We hold our monthly First Chapter program at the Bradford Area Public Library on the second Wednesday of every month at 10:30am. First Chapter is a free program for children ages 5 and younger and for family members or guardians of the participants.

In addition to joining us for First Chapter every month, here are some easy, everyday ways to incorporate literacy into your everyday lives.

At Home:
• Set a good example as a reader – let kids see you reading every day.
• Get a subscription in your child’s name to an age-appropriate magazine for your child. When relatives and others ask for gift ideas, suggest magazine subscriptions, books, or a book store gift certificate.
• Set up an area in your home where a variety of reading materials are within easy reach. Encourage writing by including paper, crayons, pens and pencils.
• Let your child see you reading, whether it’s the newspaper, a magazine, or the latest bestseller.
• Encourage a love of words by playing rhyming and word games, singing silly songs, or writing poems and stories together.
• Talk about daily activities or tell stories about your family or culture to help children develop their language skills.

At the Library:
• Keep lots of books, magazines, and newspapers around the house. Visit the library often and shop for books at garage and yard sales, swap meets, and used bookstores.
• Visit your local library often. Get your children their own library cards. Try a story hour or other free event at the library.
• Create a library for your child of new or used books. Look for affordable books at yard sales, secondhand book stores, and library book sales.

Visit the NEA’s Read Across America site to get even more fantastic tips!

The Bradford Area Public Library is located at 67 West Washington Street in Bradford, and is open 6 days a week. Library hours are Monday and Wednesday from 10:00am to 7:00pm; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm.


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