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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Dec 12, 2018 3:29:00 PM

The Girl Who Walked Through a War

Aisha faced a shattering decision: acquire a husband three times her age (and with three wives already) or forfeit her family and her country. Those were the options her father presented her with in the remote Nuba Mountains of Sudan—one of the most isolated and war-torn regions in the world. She was a 16-year-old from Des Moines. Either choice meant losing her future, her life.

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Dec 10, 2018 4:24:08 PM

The Power to Change a Life

During 25 years of involvement with United Way, Sean Vicente has changed a lot of lives. But the one he is most proud of transforming is his own.

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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 6, 2018 12:42:15 PM

Suddenly Homeless

Debra Harrison was having a bad few months. First, she lost her job as a truck driver. Then she was close to losing her apartment in Pennsylvania. Then her mother passed away after a long and difficult illness.

Next came a call from Des Moines.

She says, “I got the news that my daughter had been shot and killed by her soon-to-be ex-husband.”

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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 24, 2018 1:07:40 PM

How Many Books Could This 4-Year-Old Carry?

A preschooler's life is changed by United Way of Central Iowa's Book Buddy program, where volunteers read with 4-year-olds twice a week and the students receive a copy of the book each Friday.

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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 23, 2018 8:10:19 AM

The Power of High School Girls

The middle school girls clustered up on the starting line in their matching purple T-shirts. They had been practicing for weeks, running around and around the block. When the 5K began, the girls took off, but this was no normal race.

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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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Apr 12, 2018 6:01:48 PM

Real Men Never Stop Reading

Books were once the exclusive domain of men. As recently as the 19th and early 20th century, women in this country were discouraged from reading, and some were not even taught or allowed to go to school.

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Mar 19, 2018 5:10:59 PM

Hurricane survivors get taxes done for free

Six months ago, Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico with winds up to 175 miles per hour. The storm upended Soleil's life. Fortunately, another Maria was there to help her get back on her feet.

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Mar 19, 2018 1:56:12 PM

Survivor Mom

Stacie didn't realize she was a victim of domestic violence. But by September of 2017, Stacie had gone from a happy mother of two and a registered nurse to a homeless meth addict who had lost her nursing license and custody of her kids.

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Mar 6, 2018 12:19:05 PM

The Friendship that Saved a Family

Lisa has many lessons to teach her four children.

There’s 13-year-old Solomon—smart but anxious, excited about marine biology. 11-year-old Gabriel loves to read and helps around the house with a smile. Isabella, 7 years old and the only girl, is stubborn and independent—an artist and fashionista. The baby of the family—4-year-old Aziyah—is a natural sweetheart. He plays hard and loves to snuggle. His blond curls attract the family’s hands like a puppy’s fur coat.

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Feb 8, 2018 12:56:45 PM

Children's Mental Health Explained

Ashley Bertsch is an early childhood mental health consultant at the child care centers that participate in Book Buddy. Her position is funded by United Way of Central Iowa's Women's Leadership Connection, which is committed to ensuring that our youngest students have the best start in education and in life.

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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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