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Helping children, thanks to United Way

Communities in Schools executive director

Vicky Slusser

Vicky Slusser

By Vicky Slusser

Special to the Salisbury Post

We at Communities in Schools are so thankful for the support we receive through the Rowan County United Way. Our agency receives funding for our level 2 services, which address individual student needs through a case managed system.  We receive referrals on students, do a home visit with parents, get a signed consent form. And we develop with the child and parent a plan of action that involves individual goal setting. What we do is so important, and without funding students may fall between the cracks.

For examples, we have tried to capture stories from our site coordinators, who work with families and students in the school setting.

Without United Way, we would not be able to see the impact that CIS is making on students’ lives. We were able to help a family with basic needs like utilities and food. CIS staff met with a student weekly to see how her grades were and check if she was improving. Her attendance was also monitored.

The student was one of eight in her family. During home visits, our site coordinator saw how crowded the home was and that the student helped raise her siblings, a reason for her absences. CIS helped the family with basic needs and supportive guidance. The student was held back one year, but with the intervention of CIS staff, she was able to overcome and was promoted the next year. This young lady has blossomed, and attendance and grades are no longer issues. I believe that if CIS was not involved in this young lady’s life, the situation would be completely different. 

Without United Way funding, we would not know about individual students’ need for uniforms.  When meeting with parents, they sometimes tell our staff what their child needs to be successful. Many times it is basic unmet needs, like uniforms and supplies. Because of the United Way funding, our site coordinators are on the campus every day, following up on the needs of students in our program. 

When a student comes in on a regular basis for basic needs, the CIS staff are able to determine that he or she may be a child in need of case management. 

Recently, a student came to the CIS office because she had torn her pants. Come to find out, it was the only pair of uniform pants she had. The site coordinator had a new pair of pants on hand just the right size for her. After further investigation, the student also was in need of many other items. The smile on the student’s face in receiving the clothes was just magical.

Most people in Rowan County have no idea how some of our families are struggling to just get by.  Communities In Schools makes a difference at Hanford-Dole every day!

Without United Way funding our staff would not be in the schools to work one-on-one with a child.  Many of our students are low readers. Our site coordinators will not only read with a child in their programs, but they also will help with homework and school projects.  One child improved four reading levels in just one quarter. It is all about that one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.  Our site coordinators are that caring adult. 

There are many stories like this. I can truly say that without United Way funding our Level 2 services at school sites, there would be a lot more put on the school social workers, teachers and guidance counselors.  For all of you who continue to support the 15 United Way agencies, thank you and please know your generosity does make a difference.  The children and families we help today are the community members who will one day become donors to future campaigns.

Please see how you can help by visiting www.CISRowan.org or call 704-797-0210.

Vicky Slusser is executive director of Communities in Schools of Rowan County.

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