United Way of St. Charles
A good investment for the Parish of Plenty
For over 60 years, the United Way of St. Charles has served the people who live and work in St. Charles Parish, focusing on improvements in education, income, health, and ensuring that all basic needs are met. With 34 partner agencies and more than 100 programs, the United Way of St. Charles works in a collaborative effort to allocate resources and coordinate efforts to ensure that every community need is heard. Every year, UWSC touches the lives of roughly 40,000 people in the Parish.
The nonprofit organization takes pride in keeping its efforts local.
“Often when folks hear “United Way” or see the logo, they think big, national or even global,” said Melissa Perrier, Campaign & Marketing Manager for United Way of St. Charles. “What surprises people the most (and what I’m most proud of) is that every dollar raised in St. Charles Parish stays here, unless a donor directs us otherwise.”
The 23-member board of directors is made up of local business and industry leaders, educators and residents who represent the Parish community and remain in touch with its needs.
The United Way of St. Charles may be involved with over a hundred programs, but at its foundation, the nonprofit works to do three main things. Firstly, the organization provides support and resources to its various partner agencies, who can then directly provide services to community members. Secondly, it helps to coordinate these agencies and ensure that they are all serving different community needs. Thirdly, the United Way of St. Charles runs its own proactive programs to fulfill other needs that aren’t being met by other programs. These initiatives are designed to be proactive and long-lasting, helping community members help themselves.
As Campaign Manager for United Way of St. Charles and a 4th generation St. Charles Parish resident, Melissa Perrier says she’s very proud of the organization’s recent fundraising success.
“In 2018 we raised $3.46 million, about a 50 percent growth over the last eight years,” she said. “What’s even more important to me is what we’ve been able to accomplish with the increased funds.”
The nonprofit organization is able to use these funds to expand upon existing initiatives, create new programs and continue to support the residents of the parish.
The official campaign kick-off for 2019, Battle for the Paddle, will take place on Thursday, October 3rd. “It’s the largest Jambalaya and Gumbo cook-off in the world, with over 160 teams competing for ‘the paddle,’” said Perrier.
The campaign co-chairs this year are Jerry Stumbo (United Way Board Member & Valero St. Charles VP), Adrienne Bourgeois (SCP Government), Alton James (USDA & United Way Board Member) and Tammy Swindle (Executive Director of Cancer Association).
A FOCUS ON THE YOUTH
The greatest investment that a community can make is in its children. United Way of St. Charles understands the great impact that quality education, social skills and general health can have on a child’s success in school, at home and later in life.
For this reason, United Way of St. Charles invests in numerous programs designed to improve the safety, health and education of the young people of the parish, ranging from weekend meals for school-aged children to early childhood education services.
Recently, United Way of St. Charles has been able to use its increased funds to expand upon some of these programs.
“Starting this school year, we are proud to announce that every public elementary school in St. Charles Parish will participate in our School Backpack Program,” said Perrier, discussing the initiative in partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank to provide weekend and holiday meals for school-aged children.
The organization also hosts a program called “Bike United,” now in its third year, and is supplying bike helmets for the first time.
“Our brand-new bicycle safety program will be taught in all 3rd grade classes throughout St. Charles Parish this year,” Perrier said. “In addition to receiving a Bike United t-shirt, this year students will also receive a bike helmet upon completion of the program.”
HELPING PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES
If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. But teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime. It may be an old saying, but it still rings true when it comes to charitable service.
“United Way of St. Charles believes in a hand-up, not a hand-out,” said Perrier. “We’ll be there to help you when you trip on the sidewalk, but we also want to help you fix the crack in the sidewalk, so you don’t trip again.”
The nonprofit offers services to help community members help themselves in addition to emergency funding for basic needs.
“We offer a long-term financial stability program to individuals who find themselves coming up short often,” Perrier said. “And we also provide a job training specialist to help job seekers with resumes and training in order to increase wages and better provide for their families.”