Thursday, January 18th, members of our Tocqueville Society, including Austin Caperton, Devonna West, and Michael & Terri Muscari met at Twin Falls Resort State Park in Mullens to discuss their opinions on the most pressing issues in their community and how the United Way can help. Our Executive Director, Michelle Rotellini, and AmeriCorps VISTA, Christina Cowley, were able to engage in some great conversations concerning childhood hunger, the opioid epidemic, high school graduation rates, and much more. These members of the community have stepped up to be leaders in more ways than one, committing their time, donations, and hearts to bettering their community and making access to health, education, and financial stability readily available to all of their neighbors.
Following the meeting at Twin Falls Resort State Park, we took the short drive over to Pineville Middle School to deliver some shoes for students in need. These shoes were provided through our Equal Footing Shoe Fund, with contributions made by our community Holiday Shoe Drive hosted by Mountaineer Automotive, WVNS 59 News, Crossroads Mall, and of course – our United Way of Southern West Virginia. The Equal Footing Shoe Fund program is based on the premise that kids cannot be expected to concentrate in school when their basic needs are not met; one of these basic needs is having warm, safe, and comfortable shoes to wear. We delivered about 30 pairs of shoes to Pineville Middle School, making the total number of shoes delivered to Wyoming County students close to 200 since November. The shoes from the United Way are delivered to students privately and discreetly, so that no one is singled out for being in need. We hope that this method will help to de-stigmatize poverty in the classroom, and give every student equal footing in their quest for education. As you can see in our photo to the right, we have been using left over event t-shirts to create recycled and reusable shopping bags to deliver shoes in: the fun and low-cost bags were a hit with students and staff alike!
The work that we do at the United Way of Southern West Virginia is meaningful and impactful. We are so thankful to our volunteers, Tocqueville Society members like Austin, Devonna, Terri, and Mike who see the value in our southern West Virginia communities and seek out opportunities to get their hands dirty and invest in our causes that we fight for. The only way we can make long lasting change is if we choose to Live United!