The Mesa United Way is committed to the people of Mesa, and by partnering with other organizations and the community, they strive to meet the needs of the community
“We work hard at bringing a lot of non-profits together to solve the problems of Mesa, we like to fill in the gaps with partner agencies. Knowing more, volunteering, we always have something going on,” said Alicia Holmes, vice president of development for the Mesa United Way.
Some of their yearly and ongoing programs include:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance
Filling out and filing taxes can be imposing and expensive for some people. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, the United Way aims to help anyone who makes less than $54,000 year fill out and file their taxes for free.
Located at six different locations in Mesa, VITA volunteers ask for basic information such as W-2 forms, prior year tax forms, banking information and identification before working on returns. Last year 6,000 people took advantage of the program which runs until April 14.
Mesa Youth Unite
For 12 weeks during the summer, the Mesa United Way partners with AmeriCorps to bring Mesa Youth Unite to Mesa. Through Mesa Youth Unite, 20 college and high school-aged students, ranging from 18 to 25 years old, will be selected to work as an AmeriCorps member and tutor elementary-aged children in literacy.
Those selected for the program will earn compensation for their time during the three-month period, as well as earn money for college scholarships, at the completion of the required hours and requirements.
Feed the reader
The Mesa United Way, Mesa Public Schools, Arizona State University, United Food Banks and Mesa Community College all come together for Feed the Reader, a free event that teaches families and children the importance of eating healthy, staying healthy and literacy.
Learning sessions are broken into three age groups, kindergarten through third grade, fourth grade through sixth grade and a session just for the parents, which is taught in both Spanish and English. The event happens three times a year and is moved around town to cover as many families as possible. The next Feed the Reader will happen May 12 at the Eagles Community Center.
Using mostly donated books, the Mesa United Way targets kindergarten through third grade students and provides them with the materials needed to increase their literacy skills through the 12 Books program. In this program, children are given 12 books each, ranging from readers at specific levels to picture books.
The United Way gathers between 12 to 15 thousand books, of which 90 percent are donated by the community and hands them out at schools to students who might not otherwise have access to books and reading material.
More information about any of these programs can be found at: http://www.mesaunitedway.org.
– John O’Brien is a Mesa Community College journalism intern for MyNewsMesa.com.