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Reading in summer “keeps our brains smart!”

Every year at this time, the final bell rings and children leave school excited for summer vacation. Summer can be a time to relax and refuel – but for some students, it can be a time of vulnerability and setback.

Research shows that children from middle and high income families have access to enrichments during summer: camps, extra tutoring, and access to books help these children keep their brains engaged in learning all summer long. When these students return to school in the fall, they experience minimal declines in reading and math levels and some have even made academic gains.


But children from lower income families often have a much different experience during the summer. Without the same level of access to summer camps, books, tutoring, or other enrichments, these children may begin the school year having lost two months’ worth of reading skills. These students experience “summer learning loss” or the “summer slide”.

What happens during summer accounts for an astounding 80% of the income-based achievement gap (Drs. Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen, Summer Reading: Closing the Rich-Poor Reading Achievement Gap, Teachers College Press, 2012). And it compounds year to year: one summer of learning loss sets this group of children two months behind their middle and upper income peers, but by the end of fifth grade, students from lower-income families can be as much as three years behind their peers (“Lasting Consequences of Summer Learning Gap,” by K.L. Alexander, D.R. Entwisle, and L.S. Olson in the American Sociological Review 72 (4): 167-80, 2007; professional presentation by Dr. Alexander, February 12, 2015). At that point it is extremely difficult if not impossible to catch up.


What can be done? Reading books over the summer, especially high-interest books which children select themselves, has proven to be a high-impact, cost-effective way to combat summer learning loss. Having access to plenty of books for three summers in a row, in fact, confers that same benefit as a $3,000 summer school course – at a fraction of the cost (Drs. Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen, Summer Reading: Closing the Rich-Poor Reading Achievement Gap, Teachers College Press, 2012).

Earlier this month, I was at Durham’s Glenn Elementary School talking to children about the importance of reading during the summer. Students were about to select 10 free books to take home to read over the summer and keep forever. I posed the question, “Why are we doing this today, right before school gets out for summer?” The best answer came from a student who raised her hand and said, “Reading keeps our brains smart!”

Yes, reading does keep brains smart, and reading over the summer is crucial for the academic success of all our children.

Closing the book gap in the summer can combat summer learning loss and thus help to narrow the income-based achievement gap. And the United Way of the Greater Triangle is doing its part, advocating for action around this critical issue.

You can help. Educate yourself. Spread the word. Volunteer. Read, and work to ensure that the students in your life have ready access to books in the summer and are themselves encouraged to read. Together, we can put a stop to summer learning loss for all our young people!

– Rachel Stine, Partnerships Manager, Book Harvest

Rachel Stine is the partnerships manager at Book Harvest, the lead agency for the UWGT-funded Close the Gap collaborative. Learn more at


“Free Awesomeness”

Watching students file into the Media Center at Eastway Elementary School, some muddy and damp from Field Day activities, those of us volunteering were curious whether they’d get as excited about books. After all, how do you compete with a bouncy house? But when Daniele from Book Harvest asked, “how many books will you get?” each group of students enthusiastically shouted “10!” “And when will you need to return them?” “Never!” They were prepared for a field day . . .of books.


Boys and girls armed with bright yellow backpacks swarmed the tables, eagerly looking for their favorite titles. If all of the stacks had been “Wimpy Kid” books, packs would have been filled in a split second. Instead, try convincing a fifth grader that a Beverly Cleary book is as entertaining. Or a kindergartener that princess books are pretty but Doc McStuffins or a book about the President or another about snowflakes could be fun to read too. As an adorable five year-old observed, “the princess books are my favorite and that’s how I’m going to choose!” She left with a backpack full that she’ll surely read because she chose every one.

One shy little boy wanted books about dinosaurs. Period. We found a pop-up book, a funny dinosaur brushing his teeth, and several others that explored everything from what they ate to where they lived. Success! Except we had four more to go. Luckily, he agreed that bugs just might be as interesting as dinosaurs. Thank goodness for cover illustrations that made insects look awfully terrifying too! He quietly made his way to his seat and joined the chorus of his fellow classmates happily sharing their new treasures.

A teacher had written on the white board, “Free Awesomeness” with Book Harvest. That it was.

– Melanie Davis-Jones,  Senior Vice President of Marketing & Community Engagement, United Way of the Greater Triangle


United Way of the Greater Triangle Showcases Local Social Entrepreneurs

More than $14K raised in 15 minutes by luncheon audience to support ideas.

Morrisville, NC  – United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) hosted its first Idea Generation/Next event, designed to showcase innovative ideas from area women and people of color, currently underrepresented in the entrepreneurial sector. Five entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a crowd of 175 people; then audience members were able to bid on their favorite ideas.

The entrepreneurs featured were:

Nate Myers and his multimedia workforce development program for teens, The Malkuta Project garnered the most money in the rapid, 15-minute fundraising push. He won an additional $5,000 award from United Way, along with two months’ free use of working space at the American Underground. Other entrepreneurs’ secured from $1,300 to $3,300 in funding from audience members.

The event is part of United Way’s Innovate United TM initiative that supports breakthrough ideas and innovative idea-generators modeled by the entrepreneurial sector to help solve social issues in the Triangle.

Keynote speaker, Sterling Freeman, eloquently summed up the importance of social entrepreneurial thinking to our community. “Social entrepreneurs can create sustainable and scalable businesses that both generate profits and address systemic social challenges. That is, social entrepreneurs in an intentional way give purpose to profits. They are innovators in hope.”

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About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A two-generational focus on families and children in low income households uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures. Learn more at

2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687

United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Community Engagement Fellows Opportunity


With over 60,000 nonprofit organizations, North Carolina is a nonprofit leader in the southeast. A significant concentration of those organizations is in the Research Triangle Park area. Many of these organizations depend on interns and fellows to broaden their outreach efforts, while training them to eventually lead organizations. Every day of an internship and fellowship is a chance to hone job skills and learn best practices in this field. While the work can be challenging, the rewards are many, including creating tangible change to improve the lives of individuals in our communities.

Every year, United Way of the Greater Triangle invests in the leadership development of a cohort of five to six talented leaders and provides them with learning opportunities to sharpen their business acumen through the Community Engagement Fellowship. Fellows receive ongoing, top-notch training from area nonprofit and corporate leaders, and will have many opportunities to put their skills to use. Fellows have meaningful responsibilities, including clearly communicating the importance of giving and volunteering with United Way to the employees at their assigned companies. Fellows will also have unique opportunities to connect and build relationships with a network of over 500 area nonprofit organizations and businesses. The skill set acquired through this fellowship are transferable to any field and will be an asset in many settings. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to work for a nonprofit, are committed to being a catalyst for positive change in our community, are eager to learn how to do accounts and project management, and have been described as an outgoing individual, then this may be the right opportunity for you.

“If you want to participate in a meaningful fellowship, where you’re gaining many new skills, and are making a difference in the community, then you should definitely apply for the Community Engagement Fellowship.  I really enjoyed this program and wish I could do it again!” – Katherine, 2014 Community Engagement Fellow

Thanks to my fellowship, my confidence grew and I am able to successfully complete the variety of tasks, including fundraising which can be intimidating to many. I enjoyed my experience and felt better prepared to take on responsibilities at other organizations because of the skills that I refined, and the knowledge that I gained.” –Madi, 2014 Community Engagement Fellow

The fellowship is held at United Way of the Greater Triangle’s office in Morrisville, NC. As a fellow you will have the opportunity to travel and build relationships across the four county region we serve: Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties. For 2016 we will only be selecting 5 fellows.  Fellows must be available and participate in the mandatory trainings, July 6-8, and July 11-12. The fellowship requires a 37.5 hour Monday-Friday workweek. The 2016 Fellowship starts July 6 and ends November 18, 2016.  Fellows are expected to complete their entire term.  Fellows receive $12/hour during this fellowship.

Applications Open: April 27, 2016
Applications Due: May 27, 2016
Round 1 Interviews: Week of June 6, 2016
Round 2 Interviews: Week of June 13, 2016
Final Decisions: June 24, 2016
Mandatory Training: July 6-8, July 11-12
Program Start: July 6, 2016
Program End: November 18, 2016

How to Apply: Please send your cover letter, résumé and completed application to Mr. Stéphane Daniel by Friday, May 27, 2016 with the subject “UWGT Community Engagement Fellow Application.

Click here for a full description of the Community Fellowship

Click here to apply for a Community Fellowship

United Way of the Greater Triangle Announces Winners of Social Innovation Challenge to Tackle Childhood Hunger in the Triangle

$50K award plus three other awards for total of $100K

Morrisville, NC – United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) announced today that a panel of judges comprised of community and business leaders; a nutritionist and local food coordinator; and venture investors/fund managers selected Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) as the winner of the $50K award for their idea of “Growing Youth Food Security Leaders.” The winning concept is to put youth at the center of developing solutions to childhood hunger through service learning clubs at middle schools in low-wealth communities. The kids will research and decide on a solution they would like to put into development; there will be funding for them to implement their ideas. The UWGT Social Innovation award will fund the pilot program in two schools.

“It is so important that we begin to look at the children, whom are faced with childhood hunger, as problem-solvers and not the problem. This innovation award allows us to involve the people most intimately impacted by childhood hunger with designing solutions to address the challenge,” remarked Brenda Elliott, Assistant Superintendent, Student Support Services of WCPSS.

An additional award went to Urban Ministries of Wake County ($25K) for development of their Client Choice Pantry, complemented by nutrition education. Their focus is on recruiting mothers of children 0-5 and those who are expecting to increase their access to affordable, nutritious food and also giving them the skills to make healthy choices on a limited budget. The goal is to bridge access and information gaps to help families live healthier lifestyles by providing choices to honor a family’s preference.

Another $20K went to East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) in partnership with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Farmer Foodshare, Durham County Dept. of Public Health, Healthy Families Durham and Durham Connects, for their CHIP project (Communities addressing Hunger In Partnership) that will create new food access (through CSA boxes) delivered by Parent Advocates. In addition, education supports will be integrated into ongoing EDCI pipeline programs to create a holistic approach that supports both children and caregivers.

The final award of $5K was given to middleschoolers at Cary Academy for their “Bus Stop Food Drop” idea to increase access to healthy meals during the summer using existing bus stop locations.

Students at Eastway Elementary School in Durham also participated in the judging by reviewing videos from the teams and rating the best ideas. Three of the four winners were also selected by the 5th graders.

“We are grateful to all the teams that participated. Each showed a passion for ending childhood hunger in our community,” said Melanie Davis-Jones, SVP of Marketing & Community Engagement at UWGT. “In varying ways, each of the teams reflect our two-generational approach to addressing social issues; we look forward to their progress.”

This is the second Social Innovation Challenge for United Way. The 2014 winner, Durham Public Schools Child Nutrition Services has provided, to date, more than 400,000 meals during the school year and last summer.

Challenge Sponsors: Citrix; Arysta LifeScience, The Redwoods Group and Zachry

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About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A new focus on families and children in low income households uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures. Learn more at

2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687

United Way of the Greater Triangle Adds to Its Board of Directors

Area Executives Excel at Strategic Transformation and Collaboration

Morrisville, NC – United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) announced Robert Albright, Associate Director of the Collective Impact Forum; Wendell Davis, County Manager for Durham County and Paul Griffin, General Counsel for The Select Group, LLC, have been elected to its Board of Directors.

allbright davis griffin
Pictured left to right: Robert Albright, Wendell Davis, Paul Griffin

These three area executives bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board and are visionary leaders in their respective fields. Albright facilitates an extensive nationwide philanthropic funder network to fuel cross-sector collaboration. Davis is leading the County through a transformative, strategic approach to governance. Griffin started the legal department from the ground up for The Select Group, a fast-growing international professional services firm.

“We are delighted to bring on not just one, but three dynamic leaders from our community. Their skill sets deepen our mutual understanding of collective impact, governmental partnerships and emerging leaders in our community – all vital aspects of moving the work of United Way forward,” expressed Kevin Trapani, President and CEO of The Redwoods Group and Chair of UWGT’s Board of Directors. “We are grateful for their willingness to serve at this important time for the Triangle region.”

Albright is a nationally-recognized speaker on collective impact. The Collective Impact Forum is an initiative of nonprofit consulting firm FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. While at FSG, some of his clients included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Ford Foundation. He holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where he received the Dean’s Distinguished Service Award and a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Davis is the chief executive officer for county government operations, managing a half-billion dollar budget and approximately 2,000 employees. Prior to becoming county manager, Davis was vice chancellor for Administration and Finance at North Carolina Central University (NCCU). He also served as deputy county manager for Durham County for more than 11 years. He holds an M.B.A. from Southeastern University; a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Illinois; B.A. and B.S. degrees in Geography and Sociology from NCCU.

Griffin, recognized as a 2014 Triangle Business Journal Corporate Counsel of the Year Rising Star award recipient, has wide-ranging experience in corporate legal issues and has developed a strong business acumen advising clients over his career. Prior to joining The Select Group, he was with Young, Moore and Henderson, P.A. where he represented businesses and entrepreneurs. He is an alumnus of Campbell University where completed his    J.D. and M.B.A. degrees concurrently in 2011. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from N.C. State University.

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About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A new focus on families and children in low income households uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures. Learn more at 

2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687

Triangle Organizations Earn Recognition from United Way of the Greater Triangle for Their Commitment to the Community

Contact: Melanie Davis-Jones

Six Honored with the 2015 Leadership Awards for Engagement and Giving

Morrisville, NC—United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT) is working creatively with corporate partners to achieve community-level solutions. Although United Way continues its hallmark workplace campaigns at companies in Wake, Durham, Orange, and Johnston counties, there is an increased focus on expanding year-round engagement opportunities, using human and intellectual capital.

New this year, the 2015 Awards for Engagement and Giving recognize organizations who—through volunteerism, increased donations and employee participation—raised awareness of issues and took on a leadership role within the Triangle community.

2015 Awards for Engagement and Giving

Best Overall: EY (Ernst & Young LLP)
As “Best Overall,” EY is an exemplary United Way partner. EY employees interacted meaningfully with United Way throughout 2015 by participating in activities such as: in-office Lunch & Learns, reviewing Community Impact applications, volunteering with United Way collaborative partners and hosting their “Connect Day” in partnership with UWGT. Through “Connect Day,” EY engaged nearly 200 employees in a day of service, benefiting Triangle residents. EY is a recurring sponsor of SPARC Nonprofit Board Training. Currently, they are working with staff to add a community service component as part of their internship program and to include United Way as a member of their year-round CSR committee. In addition, there was a 37% increase in donations to the Community Impact Fund which directly supports the work of United Way.

Transformative Corporate Partnership:  Citrix and Deloitte

Citrix and United Way collaborated on a new engagement model in 2015 through the 2016 Social Innovation Challenge: 100K(ids) Hungry No More. Citrix’s Business Development team adopted the Challenge as part of their Q4 Key Performance Indicators; helped raise awareness on the issue of childhood hunger in the Triangle (especially in the tech sector); and undertook fundraising toward the prize pool as a professional development tool. By creating an opportunity for their team to develop professionally while giving back to the community through their work, Citrix created a model that leverages a company’s unique assets and connects with employees’ interests and desire for community involvement that can be replicated.

In 2015, Deloitte provided United Way with a team to help develop UWGT’s 2020 strategic plan. They regularly attended senior management team meetings; conducted a series of interviews; shared their expertise on developing plans; worked with UWGT board members; and facilitated a day-long retreat for UWGT’s management team. To further the goals of the plan, Deloitte is currently working with UWGT to facilitate focus groups at other companies in the Triangle to define UWGT’s corporate value proposition and engage companies in new ways that are relevant to their goals.

Community Impact Fund Investor: Wake County Public School System

Wake County Public School System significantly scaled their efforts to educate, communicate, and encourage employee participation in their 2015 workplace campaign. United Way Champions were appointed at each school and WCPSS created a motivational video with targeted messaging around the impact work of WAKE Up and Read, one of United Way’s collaborative partners working on literacy. Their efforts in 2015 resulted in Wake County Public Schools increasing their Community Impact Fund investment by 279%.

Employee Education and Engagement: Genworth Financial and Syngenta

Genworth Financial
Genworth employees took a deep dive into better understanding the needs of the local community by participating in various educational and volunteer opportunities in 2015. These events included a bus tour of the Family Table Collaborative; United Way presentations at department meetings; an all-employee carnival featuring a youth speaker from the Fostering Youth Opportunities collaborative; and many other special events to better inform their employees of the challenges and opportunities in the Triangle community.

Syngenta hosted various engagement opportunities for their employees in 2015. The leadership team participated in a thought-hack to create solutions around challenges confronting the region. The broader employee base participated in a drop-in volunteer event where they created 1,000 bean meals to feed 4,000 people, 500 healthy snack kits, 100 encouragement cards and flash card sets to help improve reading skills. Additionally, their investment put 397 books for literacy kits in the hands of K-3 rd graders in the Triangle.


About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT)
United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A new focus on families and children in low income households uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures. Learn more at
2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687

United Way of the Greater Triangle and Citrix Partner for Social Change

Contact: Melanie Davis-Jones

Creating bold, new partnerships to tackle social challenges in the Triangle

Morrisville, NC—United Way of the Greater Triangle is giving corporate partners ways of using intellectual capital to address social issues, leading to broader community involvement to address challenges such as hunger, poverty, and childhood literacy. The partnership with Citrix extended the opportunity for the Business Development team to use their skill sets to work towards solutions on food insecurity in the Triangle; integrate volunteer opportunities with their work; and practice skill-building to provide more well-rounded professional experiences that will lead to a more fulfilling career while helping to improve our community.

Citrix, a multinational software company leads the world in the secure delivery of apps and data, uniting virtualization, mobility management, networking and SaaS solutions to enable new ways for businesses and people to work better. Citrix has been ranked by Forbes as one of America’s Best Employers and one of the most Innovative Companies. The collaboration between Citrix and United Way has allowed both entities to implement a new engagement model, one where private and public sector leaders can explore what nontraditional philanthropy can look like as they both worked towards solutions and project management of the 2016 Social Innovation Challenge: 100K(ids) Hungry No More. This Challenge has a prize pool of up to $100,000 for the best ideas for reducing childhood hunger in the Triangle.

The Citrix Business Development team, led by Senior Manager Bill O’Boyle, became significantly invested in leading this community initiative once they learned how pervasive childhood hunger is in our region. They went as far as adopting the Challenge as part of their Q4 Key Performance Indicators and treated the metrics for this project the same as they would with one of their corporate partners. The Business Development team helped raise awareness on the issue of childhood hunger in the Triangle, especially in the tech sector of our region, and they undertook fundraising towards the prize pool.

“We were really interested in utilizing this opportunity to help create a teachable model that empowers employees,” remarked O’Boyle. “Our team likes to solve big problems so the thought of being able to use our day-to-day expertise to help solve Triangle Childhood Hunger was very attractive. It’s unimaginable to think that many kids are food insecure around us.”

Together, Citrix and United Way built a unique engagement model that will provide employees at local companies professional development opportunities to hone their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, while tackling real and urgent challenges. This kind of innovative partnership could not only inspire new value-propositions between untraditional partners, it could also transform the kinds of solutions we could see in years to come. The engagement model that has been crafted is replicable.

“Thinking about applying what you do every day to help solve complex social issues will be necessary if we are to eradicate community issues like hunger, illiteracy, and poverty,” commented Allison Warren Barbour, Senior Vice President of Resource Development and Engagement at UWGT. “The Citrix model of overlaying a company’s business model on an issue that we are working on has inspired other organizations to do the same. By disrupting the traditional way of tackling these challenges, we will certainly arrive at scalable, long-term solutions, and our community will be all the better for it.”


About United Way of the Greater Triangle (UWGT)
United Way actively mobilizes the caring power of communities to build resources, focus investments, and foster partnerships to improve lives and inspire generations of achievement in four North Carolina counties, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake. A new focus on families and children in low income households uses a collaborative approach to dramatically change the course of their futures. Learn more at
2400 Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 150 | Morrisville, North Carolina 27560 | 919.460.8687

Citrix is a trademark of Citrix Systems, Inc. and is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.

Baby Basics With Deeper Impacts

And so the adventure begins… surely this is what runs through a new parents’ mind as their baby enters the world. Some begin to worry about teaching their child manners, saving for college, and what to do when their child starts dating. However the first worry for some parents–primarily mothers–is whether or not they will have diapers for their baby once they leave the hospital. One in three families struggle to buy diapers for their children. Diapers are very expensive, a baby will use about 10-12 diapers a day that could cost about $120 a month for a new family. Without items like diapers and wipes, babies and their families are at risk for health issues, as many families will cut back on food to provide diapers for their baby.

Not having diapers also has other implications for families. Many childcare centers will not accept children who do not have an adequate number of diapers for the day. A parent may have to miss work or school to watch their child, which could add to their financial struggle.

Diapers play an essential role in a baby and their family’s lives, however diapers are not covered by welfare programs like WIC and food stamps.

Help ensure healthy, happy lives for babies in our community by joining United Way of the Greater Triangle by holding a Community Baby Shower. Most needed items include:

  • Diapers ( all sizes)
  • Wipes
  • Formula ( milk-based)
  • Baby Food

While these are the most needed items, you can make it like a real shower and collect all types of new items for babies.

Items can be dropped off at United Way of the Greater Triangle’s office from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Fridays between January 19 and February 26.

For details on how to host a 40 Days of Peace Community Baby Shower, download the Community Baby Shower Toolkit here.  You will also find drive details, flyers, email templates, and social media posts to make your drive a success.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service As Experienced By a New Employee


Alex works alongside volunteers at MLK Day of Service to prepare meal assembly kit stations.

BY Alex Hardesty

On Monday, January 18th, United Way of the Greater Triangle hosted its 11th annual Martin Luther King Day of Service. This was my first MLK Day as a United Way employee. We prepared for this day for weeks and the time had finally come to execute our largest community event of the year. At my location, Durham Tech, we were preparing rice and bean bags, as well as soup kits for Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. I was excited to see how many volunteers would participate and how much food we would be able to prepare. As volunteers began to convene, I was overwhelmed by the number of people that had arrived to help with the project. Right away, volunteers asked to be assigned a task that would help in the process of creating meals. The room quickly filled with voices and excitement as the volunteers began to pack bags of rice and beans. It was impressive to see college students taking the initiative to help others by carrying heavy boxes of finished products to the loading areas; young children focusing to make sure the words “1 cup bean” was written perfectly on the bags so the Food Shuttle would be able to read it clearly; and to observe people of all different backgrounds working together to create food for their neighbors.

While I expected people to work together, I didn’t expect what came next. People genuinely got to know each other. Volunteers shared memories of service, what motivated them to volunteer that day and whatever else came up in conversation. The sense of community was tangible throughout the room. That feeling is something I hope to carry with me beyond MLK Day and I hope other volunteers carry it with them as well.

As we reflected on the work we accomplished that morning a quote from Dr. King was shared, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” I believe that everyone involved in our MLK Day of Service contributed to making this statement a reality in our community.

In total, over 3025 volunteers joined United Way of the Greater Triangle in service at 35 projects across the Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties. Serving more than 8450 hours in one day, volunteers contributed over 158,900 meals, 800 blankets, 6,000 diapers, 10,000 baby wipes, and hundreds of new books and literacy tools to our neighbors. These combined efforts made MLK Day of Service 2016 our most successful and impactful yet.

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