Speak United

Little Libraries = Rewarding, Interesting Gig!

April 12, 2018

Kathy Kremer

Community Volunteer


KK_2_edit.jpgWhen Deb Anderson, the Jeffersontown Public Library manager, shared an opportunity with our book club friends that Metro United Way was looking for volunteers to fill "Little Libraries" in the California, Parkland, and Shawnee neighborhoods, I signed up.

I live in the Highlands now, but when I was a little girl, I spent lots of time with my grandparents. Mom grew up in Parkland, and Dad lived in Shawnee. Occasionally, when I am delivering books, I drive past their houses.
Growing up, my mother borrowed books from the Parkland library, and the first job her sister, my Aunt Emily, had as a newly-minted librarian was at the Portland branch.

Being one of those lucky early retirees who left her day job a few years back to figure out what to do next, I signed up for this because it was something I could do for something I loved. It wouldn't take much time either.


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Youth Programs: Quality Matters to Make an Impact

October 25, 2017
Angela Ditsler

Angela Ditsler

Director of High School Graduation
Metro United Way



When you find something that works, you stick with it. That’s exactly what we’re doing with the out-of-school time (OST) partners we work with at Metro United Way! In 2014, through our partnership with BLOCS (Building Louisville’s Out-of-School Time Coordinated System), we introduced 38 local program sites to a process called the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI). National research told us that adopting this method would improve the quality of youth programs. Still, we wondered: will it work here, too?


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Creating an Awesome Staff Culture

August 31, 2017
Mary Gwynne Dougherty

Mary Gwynne Dougherty

Vice President of Human Resources
Metro United Way



As Metro United Way's Vice President of Human Resources, my goal has always been to create a working environment for our staff that is the best in our community - one that fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration and engagement. Our employees are committed, skilled and compassionate. They often go well above and beyond their job responsibilities to make sure we’re doing all we can in the fight for education, financial stability and health for every person in our seven-county region.


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Unwavering commitment: Our kids deserve nothing less!

August 10, 2017

Dr. Marty Pollio

Acting Superintendent
Jefferson County Public Schools

"I love my job. And I'm really, really good at it. And I'm going to save your son."
-Dr. Zain Khalpey


PollioBlog1_edit.jpgIn a recent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, heart surgeon Dr. Zain Khalpey recalled sharing those very words with a mother whose son, Craig, a young, seemingly healthy hockey player from Arizona, suffered a cardiac arrest before a match and collapsed on the ice. Craig's heart had stopped for 83 minutes and, by most accounts, he wasn't expected to survive. However, thanks to Dr. Khalpey's remarkable talent and extraordinary passion for his job, he did. Dr. Khalpey saved Craig's life.

Dr. Khalpey's mindset is a powerful one and exactly the kind of attitude all educators need to have every day we go to work. As an educator who has served the students of Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) for more than two decades, I know the challenges that so many of them often face. That's why, as we begin a new school year and welcome our students back to class next week, we'll seize every opportunity in JCPS to have moments like Dr. Khalpey had - important chances to say, "I love my job. And I'm really, really good at it. And I'm going to save a child's life."


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Stemming Summer Learning Loss for Preschool Age Children

July 31, 2017

Jimmy R. Wathen

Specialist, Child Development & Education
Jefferson County Public Schools

JimmyWathen_blog2_edit.jpgAccording to the Campaign for Grade Level Reading (CGLR), a national group advocating that all children read at grade level by the third grade, summer learning loss is one of several critical areas affecting a child's ability to succeed in school. Other areas include school readiness and chronic absenteeism. CGLR research shows that summer learning loss is particularly stifling for children in poverty. In fact, children in poverty can lose up to two months of reading growth during the summer months if they are not exposed to literacy or other enriching activities.

Nowhere is this more evident than with Louisville's youngest learners enrolled in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) preschool programs. End of year assessments indicate that our students are well on their way to being prepared for kindergarten. However, once the "summer slide" takes effect the gains tend to dissipate once they start kindergarten and are administered the state mandated Brigance assessment...


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Retirement: An Opportunity to Reconnect

July 21, 2017

Alan Engel

Retire United Steering Committee
Metro United Way

Having worked in the nonprofit sector for 41 years I was ready to retire in 2010. When I first entertained the idea about two years prior, I wasn't sure how I would react, who I would connect with, and what I would do post career. Would I consult, travel or just hang around? A friend of mine who had gone through the same process a few years earlier suggested that I take six months off after formally retiring and do no volunteering or make other commitments. Just enjoy the freedom, the serenity, the sleep, and chance to play golf whenever I felt like it. This was the best advice I received!

Retirement is an adjustment; after all, I had been working my entire adult life or in my case even before, having paid my way through school working in the steel mills in Ohio...


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10 Steps to Get Kindergarteners Ready for School!

July 10, 2017



For children to grow into successful adults, they need a supportive and healthy early foundation that prepares them for kindergarten. This is important because when kids start school behind, they tend to stay behind. In fact, nearly 2/3 of students who reach the fourth grade without proficient reading skills end up on welfare or in prison.

ReadingGirls_edit.jpgSo what can you do? Here's a great checklist to help your kindergartener (or one you know!) get ready for school!


If your child will be five years old by August 1, 2017, register incoming JCPS students HERE. You can also register in person at JCPS: 4309 Bishop Lane.

Here's where these counties register:
Oldham County, Shelby County, Bullitt County in Kentucky
Clark County, Floyd County, Harrison County in Indiana.


Most schools host orientation and back to school events, or you may call and ask for a visit. You may also visit the school playground after hours or on the weekend...

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Begindergarten Gets Big Results

June 12, 2017
Dr. Brian Kehrer

Dr. Brian Kehrer

Green Valley Principal,
New Albany Floyd County Schools


Photo credit: News & Tribune

For the fourth year, Green Valley Elementary is offering Begindergarten - an early kindergarten experience made possible through a joint effort with Metro United Way and New Albany Floyd County Schools. The program is designed for children who have not had a preschool experience. As Principal, I have seen a great benefit to our students who participate in this wonderful four week summer program.

Children who attend Begindergarten are given the chance to adjust to being at 'school' in a smaller class size than a traditional classroom of 18-28 students. This exposure allows not only the child to learn new procedures and routines, but it provides the teacher more time to spend with each child and develop a relationship and work with the child on early academic skills...


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Survive & Thrive: A Tale of Two Parents

May 24, 2017
Kish Cumi

Kish Cumi

40203 Project Coordinator
Metro United Way

Blog_Kish_1.jpgI recently met two parents. One had a "thrive" mentality. The parent who was thriving was intentional in her parenting and purposeful in her choices for the social emotional and academic growth of her children. She homeschooled her children and was astute in her educational and extracurricular planning for each one of her children. They had access to unique resources, and her children were able to live comfortably as their family income was in the top 2% in the nation. She was optimistic about the exponential growth and excitement for learning that she noted in her children.

The other parent I met had a "survive" mentality...


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Tina: 30 Years Impacting Our Community through Volunteering

April 12, 2017

Tina Hood

Director of Volunteer Services,
Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana

BLog_TinaHood_2_edit.jpgAt the age of 12, I joined the Portland Boys & Girls Club and my great future started there. As a Club member I participated in many programs, met some near and dear friends, received guidance from some great mentors and started my volunteer journey with the 4-H Club. The Portland Boys & Girls Club was always a safe place to go after school to meet with friends, participate in group clubs, sports activities and art. After high school graduation I aged out of the Boys & Girls Club program but always made time to stop by and spend time with the staff members and Club kids. On one of my visits I learned that an arts and crafts position was vacant and I eagerly applied. That is when my 30 year career began with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana.

During my 30-year career I have held many positions within the organization (Art Instructor, Program Director, Unit Director and Director of Operations) that have allowed me to have a positive impact on many young lives. My current role as the Director of Volunteer Services is definitely my favorite. When I began this chapter in my career, I quickly reached out to Metro United Way because the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana has been a long-standing agency partner.


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