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Carbon programs get boost from United Way

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    Kade Rynd, of Palmerton, works in a mock SHINE kindergarten boot camp classroom Tuesday at L. B. Morris Elementary School in Jim Thorpe. The United Way of the Lehigh Valley announced its investments for the next year in Carbon County including $7,500 to SHINE’s kindergarten boot camp program.
    JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS

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    Savanna Heckman and Kade Hauser, of Lehighton, looks at a piece from the Tell Tale Fairytales game in a mock SHINE kindergarten boot camp classroom Tuesday at L. B. Morris Elementary School in Jim Thorpe.

Published August 01. 2018 02:39PM

Jamilynn McFarland had hit a bump in the road.

Her son, Bruce, was in kindergarten and she was going through a separation with his father. She had no idea what life as a single mother would bring, but then L.B. Morris Elementary School Assistant Principal Dave McAndrew suggested she look into the SHINE after-school program for her son.

“My son absolutely loves it,” McFarland said. “He does great in school. He isn’t as shy as he once was. He gets his hands in there with the programs. Everyone has been phenomenal with him. Every year he wants to go back, I don’t force him.”

SHINE, specifically its “Gearing Up For Kindergarten” program, is one of 17 recipients of United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s $50,000 investment into Carbon County over the next year.

Of that money, SHINE received $7,500.

According to Rachel Strucko, SHINE program director, “Gearing Up For Kindergarten” helps ensure students are prepared for that beginning step in their educational journey.

“It is an adjustment for at-risk children to get away from mom and dad in kindergarten,” Strucko said. “With a more hands-on approach right from the beginning, the child is likely to be more successful when they hit kindergarten. The investment United Way is making in early childhood education is one of the best it can make. It makes a difference for each one of the children.”

SHINE began locally 14 years ago and is now up to 11 centers serving around 800 children.

“We are making some huge strides and have become a national model for all over the country,” Strucko said. “It was a group of individuals who made this happen. The stronger we are together, the better our product will be.”

United Way is increasing its local investments from $20,000 to $50,000 this year. Every dollar raised in Carbon County stays in Carbon County, said Bob Jacobs, a member of UWGLV’s Carbon County Campaign Cabinet and Allocations Committee.

“We’re going to be able to better meet the needs of our growing Carbon County community,” Jacobs said. “We’ve expanded our reach to welcome 10 new partners for a total of 17 nonprofit partner agencies. It is obvious our future is growing here in Carbon County. This additional investment allows increased support for persons with disability, access to healthy food and shelter, access to physical and mental health services, integrated behavioral health care in a school setting, and increased kindergarten readiness and access to school-aged programming.”

Other United Way investments include $1,500 to Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living to aid in job development, $1,000 to Peaceful Knights Inc. toward Men’s Emergency Shelter Utility Assistance, $1,000 to Turn To Us Inc. for Keegan’s Kash, $4,000 for Carbon County Action Committee for Human Services to aid in its Emergency Housing Assistance Program, $7,000 to Family Promise of Carbon County toward Shelter and Housing Supports, $2,000 to Meals on Wheels of Palmerton for meal delivery, $4,000 to Shepherd House Inc. toward emergency food pantries in Carbon County, $5,000 to PathStone Corporation for Child and Family Development Services, $4,000 to St. Luke’s Miners toward Adopt a School Program at Panther Valley School District, $4,000 for Victims Resource Center to benefit prevention education for children, $2,500 to Penn State Extension/Jim Thorpe School PROSPER Project toward the life skills program, $1,500 to Behavioral Health Associates for its behavioral health program, $1,000 to Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley to benefit the Healthy Lifestyle Series, $1,000 to Catholic Social Services, Diocese of Scranton toward Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Bridge Serving Carbon County, and $2,000 to Penn-Kidder Ministerium After-School Program for its Before and After-School Program.

“We’re proud to support 17 partner agencies that join each other every day to find and implement solutions,” said Marci Ronald-Lesko, UWGLV executive vice president. “Our future is United, and United Way is dedicated to providing the support our community needs to learn, grow and prosper.”

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