Column: Without Communities in Schools of Rowan County ...

  • Posted: Saturday, October 26, 2013 12:19 a.m.

In just a few weeks the Rowan County United Way will be making a couple of very difficult decisions; which United Way Agencies will receive funding and how much those same agencies will be receiving from this year’s Campaign.

The 15 agencies have already shown that they meet the needs of the community but we all need the community support to make this year’s campaign a success. The success will come when the campaign goal is reached and agencies can continue to provide needed services to the community. We need you!

I asked my staff to survey teachers, parents, volunteers and students at their schools and ask one question, “What would your school look like without the services that Communities In Schools of Rowan County provide?”

Following are just a small number of responses:

• “What would be missing without the support of the Communities in Schools at our school? Many things; some of the children would not be showing up at all. Some of our students wouldn’t receive the care and assistance that this organization has provided to some of the students. CIS Rowan’s help has been tremendous! Students would not be provided food for the weekend with the food coming from Food For Thought. Students would not be provided clothing and uniforms, transportation to school meetings, and many other services that most people take for granted. They have provided these services in a caring manner. They have made the students feel special and accepted members within our society.”

• “Parents of students from the After-School Program started calling the school in August asking if CIS will be back... The after-school tutoring by CIS has really turned around their child, academically... Without CIS Rowan at our school there would be no after-school tutoring.”

• “We cannot imagine what our school would be like if we did not have staffing through Communities in Schools of Rowan County”. “We have tried and tried to get this parent to come into the school for a parent meeting. I have asked the CIS Staff to please contact the parent and see if they could persuade them to come to school.”

• “Without the resources that CIS provides our students, many of our students would not be performing as well as they do. The CIS tutors and Catawba College tutors are such an important contribution and support for students who receive their assistance. If CIS Rowan was not at this school, the college connection might not be made.”

• “Communities in Schools and UW have been lifesavers for the schools, always willing to help out where needed, special attention to our students, staff and the school grounds. We need all the help we can get!  Thank You CIS and UW!”

• “The BackPack Program would be missing; over 50 students would not be going home each weekend with a backpack of non-perishable food items to help them get through the weekend. CIS Staff made the connection with Rowan Rotary and the weekend backpack program was birthed. We receive the food this year from Salvation Army (another United Way Agency). Also, without CIS Rowan and United Way funding, our students would have fewer people encouraging them to do their best.”

• “As a site coordinator for CIS at a middle school, I feel it is my duty to provide encouragement to the students every day. They might not see their potential but I do and I try my best to encourage the possible and impossible. Without United Way funding, our site coordinators who are stationed at each school would have fewer hours in the day to reach out to students and their family members. We also conduct home visits to help parents, help themselves.”

• From a student: “Love, nurturing, supporting, and caring people would be missing.”

• “Communities in Schools provides a valuable and essential service for our children.  This organization gives our students extra encouragement and support so that they can be successful. It provides a wonderful form of connection with our students!” — AIG Teacher

• “Many students will feel left out, because they don’t have the materials and resources that they need to be successful everyday at school.” — A reading teacher.

• “A day without CIS would be a sad day, a lonely day, a day without sharing. Let me explain — it would be a sad day because many of our students truly look forward to our (the volunteers’) visit. We try our best to be good listeners, leaning in, making eye contact, and occasionally offering a hug. It may possibly be a lonely day for many of the same reasons. Our ‘kids’ do miss us and our visits when we must cancel for some reason. I am fortunate that my student is at the school where I work, so she drops by often to share a bit of good (sometimes not so good!) news. CIS volunteers are amazing aunt, uncle, big sister, big brother substitutes. On any given day our students will share with us things that are troubling them, events that excite them, decisions (good & bad) that they have made.  On these sharing days it seems to make our time commitment so very worthwhile. How thankful we all should be for the positive changes made in these students’ lives by the caring ways of Communities in Schools and United Way.” — School employee

• “In order to create the future, a community should want to care for and support local schools. Without that sense of connectedness a generation can be overlooked. My students know that Communities in Schools and the United Way want them to succeed. I remember the day students saw a team of United Way volunteers outside the art room window preparing an outdoor sitting area for classes. It showed them that their community cares.”- Art teacher

• “Many kids would be without: snacks, clothes, a caring listener, a pat on the back, an advocate, support systems, and so many other things.” — Parent

• “Thank you to United Way for helping our school. Our school always benefits from Day of Caring where people come in and do beautification to our school. The EC students always stop them to ask what they are doing and why! They are very patient with our students to answer their questions! The students most of the time just say “Oh” and “Thank you” it makes us smile! We do enjoy seeing people care about our school and our students, thanks again!” — a teacher

• “We would lose the connection with the community. Communities in Schools organizes volunteers taking that responsibility from teachers. The agency connects one year to the next with student needs. If we didn’t have CIS in our school we wouldn’t have this connection for our students.”

• “I believe one thing students would lack without these wonderful programs are role models to aspire to be. A role model doesn’t have to be the same color, gender, or have the same culture as you. Instead they are people that set good examples on how to live a successful life. I think that is one aspect that Communities In Schools does a great job setting into place, especially here at my school.” — Teacher

• “Communities in Schools has been an invaluable resource for our school. Without it, we wouldn’t have a successful food backpack program with the food from Food For Thought many of our children would spend hungry holidays and weekends. Without CIS, our children wouldn’t have a place to go when they need school supplies and clothing that their parents may not be able to provide for them. Without CIS, our children would sometimes not have Christmas presents under their trees or trees themselves. In other words, without CIS, WE would be WITHOUT children who can come to school confident and secure that they are ready to learn and be a part of a school family.”

• “As for Communities in Schools, the site coordinator in the local school system provides pivotal roles such as working with staff to identify students at risk of not graduating. They establish relationships with businesses and local agencies to provide necessary needs for families. Students are provided with mentoring and tutoring, emergency assistance with clothing/uniforms, transportation, and supplies, and along with supportive guidance for parents as well. I cannot imagine schools without these necessary resources.”

I hope that reading how important Communities In Schools of Rowan County and Rowan County United Way are to some of our community members that you will be inspired to help. Help by giving or pledging to this year’s campaign. All dollars raised here in Rowan County stay in Rowan County. Make a difference in a life today, make that difference for a child today, make a difference in your community today.

Vicky Slusser is executive director of Communities In Schools of Rowan County. For more information go to or call 704-797-0210.

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