Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.

Recent Posts

Aug 15, 2019 2:48:22 PM

On the path she chose

At 5 a.m., Monae Woods’ alarm clock goes off. She sits up in bed, reaches to the wall behind her without looking, and pulls off a sticky note with a handwritten quote. The quote might say, “get it done,” and that sets the tone for her day. The 18-year-old meditates, prays, takes a cold shower, and listens to motivational speakers while cleaning her room. Then she gets ready for work at Principal as an intern working on communications projects.

This life is far different than what she experienced last December, living in her car without heat, huddled in blankets, trying to find a job that would pay her bills while she finished high school. 

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Jul 19, 2019 4:06:13 PM

Winning in health

On her birthday one year ago, Imani was excited, because she got to miss school for her annual check-up, with the promise of a birthday meal at IHOP afterward. But this year, the fourth grader received some news from her doctor: She was at risk for developing diabetes.

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May 21, 2019 1:08:05 PM

Ready for kindergarten

Yanira is an amazing example of what can happen when a four-year-old has the opportunity to work one-on-one with a reading mentor over a school year. 

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Apr 23, 2019 1:14:40 PM

Growing a healthy community

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Feb 15, 2019 1:09:08 PM

Falling off the Cliff

Kelly Dejoode was panicking. She had just received a letter saying she would no longer receive Child Care Assistance from the state. She was going to drop off the so-called “Child Care Cliff."

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Oct 3, 2018 9:43:23 PM

Joining to network, now giving with heart

Jess and Tim McCulloh started giving to United Way through their workplace at the same time they started their careers. Next, they joined the Education Leadership Initiative before they were married with a desire to network and grow professionally. Today, as leaders in their companies, they are the ones asking others to give back and are helping lead the direction in which United Way’s dollars are invested in the community.

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Sep 3, 2018 9:07:14 AM

Through health issue, Syrian mother finds new hope

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Aug 29, 2018 4:26:40 PM

A Diploma for Mom

Cecelia Fink wants to be the parent her son, Ezequiel, age 1, looks up to.

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Jul 31, 2018 9:24:51 PM

Leaving a legacy through planned giving

Jem Gong-Browne is slowly working toward becoming a United Way Tocqueville Society member, being able to donate $10,000 a year, but she has already left a legacy of giving that will last forever.

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Jun 5, 2018 5:16:54 PM

A Book Buddy celebration for this first-year volunteer

Deb Bremser volunteers to read with four-year-old students at two child care centers during the school year. Here she shares her Book Buddy experience:

When Isaac and I first started reading together as Book Buddies, he didn’t enjoy the experience. 

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Apr 23, 2018 9:05:11 AM

Coding leads refugee high school student to college scholarship

Three years ago, if you’d asked Bonito what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d have said professional soccer player.

When he wasn't at school, the 10th-grader was playing soccer and hanging out with his friends. If soccer didn't work out by the time they graduated high school, their families' would likely encourage them to find a job and get married. 

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Apr 20, 2018 11:19:15 AM

Refugee, graduate, future nurse

Tara still talks about her graduation day with excitement three months later. As everyone filed out of the auditorium and her family waited to take photos outside, Tara stayed, holding onto the moment.

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Nov 24, 2017 9:14:00 AM

A central Iowa student gets the vision to learn

Aaniece Owens used to sit in the back of the classroom and squint at the blurry board at the front of the room. Her teacher told her she could go the carpet at the front of the class to read the board if she needed to, but Aaniece was shy and only went a few times. She often had headaches and borrowed her mom's glasses when she was at home. 

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Nov 9, 2017 9:25:16 AM

Giving Garden Volunteer Rolls Up Her Sleeves to Give Back

This spring, when Arlette Mueller entered her Telligen office, she saw seedlings growing in trays across her coworker's desk. Soon, she would join the group of 20 volunteers who would plant those seedlings in the garden outside the Telligen building. Through the summer, she would take her turn to water and weed, and then into the fall, harvest the vegetables that would be delivered to the DMARC food pantry.

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Oct 4, 2017 4:31:38 PM

After-school program changes Warsame's life

Warsame kept disappearing from BE REAL Academy’s after-school sessions. He would lie about needing to do something and then go outside to play with friends. Or when he came to a session, he struggled to focus on the activities and complete his homework. All of this was unusual for the fifth-grade student who’d been with Oakridge Neighborhood’s after-school programs since third grade.

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Aug 30, 2017 4:34:00 PM

A Smile Saved

Lam came home from preschool with a toothbrush, dental floss, and other mementos from her visit with the Smile Squad. Best of all, she was no longer scared of having someone examine her teeth.

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Jun 1, 2017 10:19:26 AM

Meet United Way of Central Iowa's New President

Elisabeth Buck took the helm as United Way of Central Iowa's President this May. As we welcome her to this role, we've taken a moment to ask her a few questions about her leadership style, what she hopes to accomplish, and what she loves most about Des Moines. 

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Apr 25, 2017 9:17:24 AM

A Bridge to His Dream

Aaron had received all of his test scores except one. He waited through the weekend. He worried when he would know. Then, the news came: “You passed!”

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Apr 22, 2017 1:35:00 PM

Miracle Mom

Walking across the stage to receive her diploma was the ultimate proof of Minerva’s strength. The 17-year-old was not only graduating from East High School, she was celebrating her survival of a high-risk pregnancy, her daughter’s critical illness, and her own emergency surgery—all within a few months.

That moment was the start of a new journey, a different one from what Minerva imagined a year ago.

When she found out she was pregnant nine months before graduating, Minerva felt sad. She had plans to marry her boyfriend, go to college and become a nurse. Not only would she become a mom as a teenager, but she also had a medical condition called Lupus, which made her pregnancy high risk.

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Mar 22, 2017 9:07:34 AM

A Lifetime's Purpose

Renee Hardman is so passionate about volunteering that she tears up talking about it.

“I have always thought there was a purpose for our lives here on this earth,” she said. “That purpose is to live beyond ourselves and to always reach back and pull someone else along.”

For 30 minutes every Thursday morning, Renee reads with four-year-olds at Oakridge Academy as part of Book Buddy, a United Way-led initiative to reach children in the critical year before kindergarten. The volunteer program engaged 135 mentors to read at local preschools last year.

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