It’s My Pleasure to Introduce…

Marcia Friesen, Harvey County United Way second vice chair

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

Question: Where did you grow up and what was your family life like?

Answer: I grew up on a farm outside of Sterling, Illinois, the second of five children. Growing up on the farm meant learning how to work hard.  It meant that summers were not for vacations and time off. Some of the responsibilities that we assisted with were feeding livestock (sheep, Angus cattle), baling hay, “walking beans” (which meant walking the rows and cutting off milkweeds and rag weeds) and tending the large garden that we had on our land. Our father also had a side job as custodian at our church. Because life as a farmer means long and intense hours of work, we kids were often the ones to take on the cleaning of the building. This job taught all of us to be respectful in public buildings and to have empathy and understanding for how hard people work behind the scenes. It helped us be grateful for all persons and the contributions they make.  

As children, we considered ourselves to be “middle class”.  We had adequate food, clothes, and transportation. We knew that others had a lot more money than we did, but at the same time there were friends who also had a lot less than we did. It wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that I found out that we were below the poverty line as far as income guidelines. As an adult, it has amazed me at how my parents were able to raise us with such limited finances. And makes me even more thankful for the opportunities and benefits I was afforded despite the roadblocks and barriers that come with the challenges of poverty. 

Question: Who have been your strongest influences in life?

Answer: The first person who comes to my mind is my dad – Robert LeFevre.  My dad worked hard his entire life. He always gave 100% and never complained.  At the end of the day, he still had energy and spent time reading books, playing games and spending quality time talking and listening to us. Dad taught us to think of others before ourselves.  He sacrificed lots to have the money to be able to provide for us.   Dad never got the chance to attend college.  But from the time we were young, dad made sure to tell us that he wanted us to go to at least two years of college.  He persisted in this and four of the five kids in the family attended college (one  earned a master’s degree, two got bachelor’s degrees, and one, an associate degree.)

The second person who had a strong influence in my life was my teacher and cross-country coach Don Mekeel.  “Mekeel” as we called him, made sure I could get to early practices by picking me up each morning (we could not afford for me to have a car) and dropping me off at home after the afternoon practices.  Mekeel had a way of motivating his athletes by building on their strengths and using positive feedback.  He used encouragement to get us to perform at our best and to strive to become even better.  Mekeel helped us set goals and then continued to promote new goals once we accomplished the existing ones.  He taught us that hard work and dedication were never wasted, and that teamwork and friendship were an integral part of life and success.  Like my dad, Mekeel never asked us to do anything that he himself would not do or demonstrate. 

The personalities and character traits of both my dad and Mekeel are those I have tried to model in my life.  And I count myself as fortunate to have had their influences in my life. 

Question: What led you to your career?

When I was in the third grade at my elementary school in Illinois, there was a preschool classroom for children who had hearing impairments. They needed students to come into the classroom during recess, lunch, and any activities when they needed extra help. I got chosen to do this and I absolutely loved every minute of it.  My two friends and I quickly picked up sign language. And to the dismay of our teacher, we were able to “talk” during class and not even disrupt anyone!!!  I got the opportunity to continue this until I had to transition from that school to attend seventh grade. From that time forward, I wanted to be a teacher of the hearing impaired.  But when I left Hesston College with my associates degree, the closest program for getting that degree was at the University of Kansas and I was not able to relocate to Lawrence. Two years later, when Bethel College introduced a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, I found my solution. I was then fortunate enough to obtain my Master’s degree from Wichita State University as well.  I loved all my 31 years in that profession before retiring from the Harvey County Infant Toddler Program in 2019.   

Question: How would friends and acquaintances describe you?

Answer: I think they would say I’m organized, kind, thorough, reliable, compassionate, with a sense of humor.  I like to make connections with people and to make sure they feel valued and appreciated. 

Question: With so many volunteer opportunities in the community, why did you choose to be involved with Harvey County United Way? 

Answer: For many years, Harvey County United Way provided money to the Infant Toddler Program where I worked.  Working as a Partner Agency with United Way allowed me to see how they invest in many programs and causes in our county.  When I was approached about becoming a member of the Board, I felt that it was a good opportunity for me to give back to the agency, the community, and the donors of United Way. 

Question: What’s the one thing you want people to know about HCUW?

Answer: All money given to Harvey County United Way stays in our county to support children, families, and individuals, and programs.  I think this is very important for donors to understand.  We only employ 1 full-time and 1 part-time employee leaving most of the money to go toward projects.  

I was involved with UW for a lot of years (can’t remember the number of years) as a Partner Agency when I was Coordinator and Service Provider with Harvey County Infant Toddler Program. I joined the UW Board in January of 2020. I’m in my second year as the second vice chair.

Thank you, Marcia, for your service to Harvey County and your unwavering support of Harvey County United Way.

Golden Plains offers life with a touch of gold

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

For the past 12 years, Golden Plains Credit Union in Hesston has been offering their members “life with a touch of gold.” Vice President of Branch Services Roxana Koch has been with the business since it’s inception in 2010 when Golden Plains purchased the building on main street and opened the credit union.

The Hesston branch is one of 13 across the state, mostly in western Kansas. With over 83,000 members, the organization holds over $850,000,000 of participant’s holdings. The Hesston GPCU has around 2100 members of that total and assets of around $20,000,000.

Great Plains Credit Union employee Shaniah Lapp, right, helps a local couple with their financial needs along with other staff Roxanna Koch and Marcalyn Yutzy.

“We offer almost anything you can find in any financial institution,” Roxana said. The biggest difference between the credit union and traditional banking organizations is that the governing board and supervisor committee are all volunteers.

“Our board members work hard to do whatever they can to help the membership,” Roxana stated. All that a person has to do to become a member is open a savings account and maintain a $10 balance. Then as a member, numerous services are available: checking and savings, IRA’s, loans, certificates of deposit, mortgages, auto loans, credit cards and more.

Along with Roxana, the credit union employs two other full-time employees plus one part-time person. The credit union’s lobby is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday’s from 9 a.m. to noon for drive-up service only.

Great Plains Credit Union staff invites everyone to stop by their offices in Hesston to explore their financial opportunities.

The Golden Plains Credit Union was the inaugural organization to join the Harvey County United Way’s Small Business United program. The credit union has been very involved in community events.

“We hosted an Easter Extravaganza with Hesston Recreation and Community Education on  April 15 and it was a huge success,” Roxana said. “We had 110 kids visit with the Easter Bunny.”

Thank you Roxana and Golden Plains Credit Union for being one of our founding members of Small Business United!

WHAT IS SMALL BUSINESS UNITED?

Small Business United is a group of Harvey County small businesses who have joined together to make a huge impact! Often we see small businesses who would love to get involved and help the Harvey County community, but don’t have the resources to make a large gift. By becoming Small Business United members, these businesses contribute to improve lives and strengthen our community. To become a SBU member, click here and select “Small Business United” on the donation page.

Infant Toddler Program Spotlight

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator, Harvey County United Way

Raising a child in today’s world is a challenge on the very best of days. Childhood vaccinations, dental and optical health, haircuts, dietary obstacles, growth and weight guidelines – just a few of the many things parents deal with their children.

Getting all those activities done provides a strong base for children to start school. But what if you notice your little one seems to be having a bit of trouble crawling or walking; not using words; not transitioning from bottle to table food or throwing tantrums?

In steps the Harvey County Infant Toddler Services group. When a family brings forward a concern in development, the team – consisting of two early childhood teachers, a speech language pathologist, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist – moves into action.

Infant Toddler Program at the 13th Annual Chili Cook-Off.

“Our area of specialty is early childhood special education,” said director Jonni Brown of herself and  fellow early childhood teacher Ashley Snodgrass. “Then the whole team focuses on development of the child and family. We focus on a child’s learning, play and thinking skills.”

The program is free for children birth to three years old. The team uses the primary provider model in their work with families. That means all early interventionist team members work closely with the family to conduct the assessment and design the child’s plan.

However, each family will thereafter see a primary person who will support the family in the daily routines and activities that are important to them. Research backs up the primary provider model, saying if a family has one person to connect with, results are easier and longer lasting.

“We believe building a relationship with one person on our team will provide the family better support,” Jonni said. “The primary provider will bring in other team members as needed.”

Assessments, program development and services are given at the family’s home, where infants and toddlers learn best through everyday experiences with familiar people in familiar places.

“We look at the whole family, not just the development of the child. What resources do the family’s need to be successful?” Jonni said. For instance, is there safe housing, a parent with a driver’s license, a mom who wants to get a degree or go to college?

Being part of the process and planning empowers them to know they can make those choices for their kid,” Jonni said. After the assessment and plan are completed, primary providers start seeing kids weekly to once a month, just depending on age, severity, family’s needs and their abilities to do what they need to do to be successful.

Since the majority of meetings are held in the child’s home, they involve a lot of drive time and travel expenses to make sure all children in the outlying areas of the county are served. Because grant funding from Harvey County United Way isn’t restricted to a certain category such as supplies, capital improvements or program support, the Infant Toddler program is able to supplement the dollars they receive from the state for travel for all the home visits.

With around a hundred children in the program, there is a lot of travel involved. Not all those kids are on a plan at the same time because there are children who transition off or kids that move. Average active cases at any given time are close to 70.

Jonni has been with the program for 18 years, coordinator for the past three years. She has seen an increase in the number of referrals coming in. But with only five staff, of which three are part time, it weighs heavily on them.

“We are trying to see our current case load and we get the new referrals. How do we balance all that?” she said. With continued support from Harvey County United Way, they are able to support families in all areas of the county.

“If the staff demonstrates a need to get more employees, we feel like maybe we are in a good position to ask for another part-time person,” Jonni said.

It’s My Pleasure to Introduce…

Denise Duerksen, Harvey County United Way immediate past board chair & community investment chair

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

Question: Where did you grow up and what was your family life like?

Answer: I grew up in the small town of Goessel. Everyone knew everyone’s business😊 we played outside till dark, we didn’t have to lock our doors and Sundays were seriously a day of rest. I had parents who were hard working and taught my brother and me to be the same. They got divorced when I was going to be a freshman in high school, so my brother and I grew up quickly. However, that experience made me the person I am today.    

Question: Who have been your strongest influences in life?

Answer: I have three people I would say were my strongest influences.  First, both my grandmothers. They were so talented. Both were amazing quilters, cooks, and hard workers. I learned so much from just hanging around them.  The other person is Cindy Hastings. She was my rock growing up and helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. We connected during my 4th grade midweek class at church and still remain close to this day. 

Question: What led you to your career?

Answer: Back in the 80’s there was a secretarial studies program at Bethel and that is what I went to school for. After getting my Associates of Arts degree from there, I started working for five different businesses handling their secretarial and bookkeeping needs. At that time, one of the groups I worked for was the JDC (now known as the EDC).  That is basically how I got into working for the City of Newton.  In May I will have completed 31 years here. I felt like I found my forever job the first day at work.

Question: How would friends and acquaintances describe you?

Answer: I believe they would describe me as enthusiastic, what you see is what you get, honest, loyal and just someone fun to be around. 

Question: With so many volunteer opportunities in the community, why did you choose to be involved with Harvey County United Way?

Answer: I was exposed to United Way when I first started working for the city. Since then, it has been something that I wanted to be involved with. I was so excited to be asked, way back in the day, to be on the then allocations committee. It was a place that I could make a difference in the community and with non-profit organizations. I have remained a part of that committee, now the community investment committee. I love serving on this committee because you really see what a difference you make in the lives of people!

Question: What’s the one thing you want people to know about HCUW?

Answer: Harvey County United Way has a huge impact on so many lives, whether it is through helping someone with services available from our partner agencies or through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.   Lives are changed daily. 

Thank you, Denise, for your service to Harvey County and your unwavering support of Harvey County United Way.

KidFEST aims to get more books in the hands of Harvey County kids

By Dalton Black, Executive Director

As one of our first Community Impact projects, KidFEST was developed as part of our Literacy Initiative in 2015. Early reading is the first step to academic success. The United Way Worldwide Education Agenda links early reading to kindergarten readiness. Kindergarten readiness has a direct link to third grade reading proficiency. And, third grade reading proficiency is tied to high school completion.

Thanks for our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, we know that when parents and caregivers read to their children, it exposes them to a larger, more diverse vocabulary and greater variety of sentence structures that just talking to them. Children develop concepts of print, alphabetic knowledge, phonological awareness and improved memory – all essential skills leading to school readiness and future academic success.

Reading aloud to children at a young age can positively impact their brain development: When preschool children listen to stories, it activates the areas of their brains that are associated with processing images and narrative comprehension.

Pediatrics – Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Due to COVID-19, we had to make some tough decisions about how to still have KidFEST without risking exposure to those who attended. In 2021, we modified it to a drive-thru event. It was more coordination on our end, but we were so excited to see that we were actually able to pass out more books by having multiple sites. So, we’ve decided to do it this way again in 2022!

KidFEST 2021 – Volunteers ready to pass out bags and books to children in Halstead.

KidFEST will be from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 16 at:

  • Slate Creek Elementary – Newton
  • Hesston Elementary – Hesston
  • Kansas Learning Center for Health – Halstead
  • Burrton High School – Burrton
  • The Meeting House – Sedgwick

Reading together is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Parents can support their child’s education and cognitive development by sharing books as part of their everyday routine. Establishing these critical connections and communication pathways helps families prepare young children prior to entering school. Simple tasks such as looking at pictures in the books and reading aloud together not only supports the literacy growth, but also builds a special bond and supports a child’s social and emotional development.

Join us in ensuring children in our community have access to books. Encourage families to sign-up their child for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and attend KidFEST for free books!

Gage, Carry and Lyle Black pass out bags and books in Burrton during KidFEST 2021.

Hats off to our wonderful volunteers!

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes; ages and genders; races and creeds. But the one thing they all have in common is their passion to make a difference in someone’s life.

April is recognized as National Volunteer month and we wish to recognize and thank all the Harvey County United Way volunteers.  With your continued support of our programs, we are able to successfully conduct a major fundraising campaign, award financial grants to 20 partner agencies, engage with the community through public events, supplement teachers’ classroom needs with mini-grants, get free books out to children and serve the best chili in the county at our chili cook-off!

Harvey County United Way Board of Directors. Front Row, left to right: Denise Duerksen, Danielle Randall, Kyle Fiedler, Kati Sartain, and Hannah Hahn. Second Row: Rick Toews, Darrin Preheim, Nathan Murphy, Marcia Friesen, Myrla Haury, Justin Kaufman, and Kaila Armendariz. Back Row: Bryan Dugan. Not pictured: Dr. Nerlyn Cooper and Melody Spurney.

Without volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to host those great events or be relevant in our communities. Since most of these events are extremely important to communities and businesses, volunteers fill a critical gap in service.

According to Points of Light, Global Volunteer Month celebrates the power of people who tackle society’s greatest challenges, and build stronger, more vibrant communities through volunteerism. They list a couple of interesting statistics regarding volunteerism.

  • 87% of people will make time for a worthwhile volunteer opportunity
  • 96% of volunteers believe that volunteering makes them happier persons
  • 44% of people are unsure how to get involved or where to find opportunities to volunteer

We are always looking to add volunteers to our list, and we would love to have you part of the family. You can reach our signup page by clicking here.

A big thanks goes out to our 16-member board of directors. Their involvement helps guide HCUW to identify and meet community needs. 

Please help us in celebrating National Volunteer Month by volunteering with an organization that you feel passionately about, and by thanking other volunteers you know for all their support of the non-profits they believe in. Happy Volunteer Month!

Bryan Dugan, 1st Vice Chair, measures the winning marshmallow structure by Team 1 consisting of Myrla Haury, Rick Toews, Nelly Cooper and Kyle Fiedler.
During their recent strategic planning retreat, teams worked together to build a marshmallow tower to start the day. Members included Darrin Preheim, Marcia Friesen, Melody Spurney and Dalton Black.
Board member Nathan Murphy puts the finishing touches on his team’s marshmallow tower before it came tumbling down. Other members of the team included Hannah Hahn, Danielle Randall and Sheila Kelley.

Practice holds a piece of her heart

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

Life changed abruptly last year for Kendra Hopp, owner of Hesston Veterinary Clinic after the unexpected death of her father, Dr. Gary Baehler from a heart attack. After growing up in her father’s practice, helping out during high school and summers home from college, Kendra had to make a decision about the future of the practice.

“After losing my dad, it was hard to know what to do with the clinic whether to sell, keep, or close down” Kendra said. “I decided I wasn’t ready to let the clinic go, it holds a piece of my heart and so many memories for me. It is an honor to be able to continue the legacy that my dad built and carry it on. ”

Although she isn’t a veterinarian herself, Kendra has experience running a business with her husband, Brian, who owns Hopp’s Sound and Hopp’s Sno Shack in McPherson. Previously she was a Vice-President Branch Manager/ Loan Officer at a bank and changed career paths this past year to run the clinic. It was the dedication of the clinic employees and the support of the community that made the decision easy for her.

Currently the clinic employees 10 people – one veterinarian Dr. Rachel Jost, two vet technicians Helena Klassen and Liz Hager, vet assistant Shelby Koehn, receptionist Brea Creamer, four kennel technicians Paityn Jahay, Breckyn Porter, Julienne Wald, and Kylee Nelson. The office manager, Lorene Lohrenz, who has been with the practice since the establishment began 35 years ago, has been the biggest supporter.

Hesston Veterinary Clinic staff welcome you to stop by. From left, Dr. Rachel Jost, DVM; Liz Hager, vet technician; owner Kendra Hopp and office manager Lorene Lohrenz, office manager, seated.

“Lorene is the heart of the clinic, the smiling face when you walk in, knows everyone, and has been a huge help going forward.” Kendra said. “Dr. Rachel Jost has been the best asset to the clinic. She helped ensure everything ran smoothly last year through the transition and is such a talented veterinarian. We are so lucky to have her on our team.”

The clinic is looking to hire an additional veterinarian in the near future as they continue to grow. In the meantime, they have a veterinarian that comes in from Wichita to help with surgeries several times a month. Kendra also employs high school students as kennel technicians.

“Several want to be veterinarians, so they get the opportunity to come in and observe surgeries in addition to the work they do around the clinic. It is such a great opportunity to learn responsibility and is where I started when working at the clinic.” she said.

Kendra and her husband remodeled the building last year and will be expanding it in the near future. Her father had a remodel on his books but didn’t get a chance to do so. The original structure was demolished during the 1990 Hesston tornado then was rebuilt to the current building that houses the practice.

“It’s my goal to carry on his vision for the clinic,” Kendra said. “Doc’s vision was to provide compassionate care at an affordable price while still providing excellent care for all patients. From an annual wellness exam, surgery to a vaccination or nail trim- you can expect the same level of care.”

The clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 – 5 p.m. and on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon. For after-hours emergencies, the practice partners with an emergency clinic and an urgent pet care clinic in Wichita.

The small animal clinic provides services to cats and dogsincluding preventive care, surgical care, dental care, boarding, and more. Additionally, in-house laboratory, x-ray, various other diagnostic capabilities, and pharmacy are available to customers. 

“I’m really proud of all the employees here because they make sure to keep our customers first,” Kendra said. “It is a family atmosphere and is such a pleasure to work together as a team. It’s important to me that everyone loves their job and working together.” She is very appreciative of their many great clients who supported them last year making it possible for the clinic to continue.

Thank you Kendra and Hesston Veterinary Clinic for being one of our founding members of Small Business United!

WHAT IS SMALL BUSINESS UNITED?

Small Business United is a group of Harvey County small businesses who have joined together to make a huge impact! Often we see small businesses who would love to get involved and help the Harvey County community, but don’t have the resources to make a large gift. By becoming Small Business United members, these businesses contribute to improve lives and strengthen our community. To become a SBU member, click here and select “Small Business United” on the donation page.

It’s My Pleasure to Introduce…

Hannah Hahn, Harvey County United Way board chair

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

Question: Where did you grow up and what was your family life like?

Answer: I grew up outside the tiny town of Enterprise, KS. My dad is a farmer and my mom is a financial advisor. I also have a younger brother who is helping with the farm today. The farm was a large part of how I was raised. I had many evenings taking care of livestock and just being in the equipment with my dad (or mom). 4-H and FFA were also a large part of my life growing as I was never very good at sports but could give one heck of a speech!  

Question: Who have been your strongest influences in life?

Answer: I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by strong women in my life. My mom being one of the largest influences, followed very closely by my Grandma Miller and Grandma Conley. Each woman has left such a mark on me and I hope I make them proud every day.

Question: What led you to your career?

Answer: As I was finishing up my master degree at K-State in Agricultural Economics, many of my classmates were getting jobs where they crunched numbers or did research. I knew that working with people was something I wanted to do. As I started searching for a career, my mom introduced me to Mike Petitjean. Mike was looking for a younger advisor to take over so he could retire. I was absolutely terrified at first. There was so much to learn! As my mom is a financial advisor, she trained me to help and service clients in the best way possible. Being a financial advisor gives me a great blend of working with people and working with numbers. I LOVE my job as I get to help people every single day reach their financial goals!

Question: How would friends and acquaintances describe you?

Answer: My friends say that I am a devoted and loyal person. I will do anything for those in my life who are important to me. This includes family, friends, and clients. I have also been told that I am good interpreting others and reading a room. I also am good at being direct when needed but also comforting.

Question: With so many volunteer opportunities in the community, why did you choose to be involved with Harvey County United Way?

Answer: I started out with Untied Way as our office was a major sponsor of the Chili Cook-Off. As I got to know more about the organization and what it stood for, I quickly realized that it aligned with other areas that I care about deeply in my life. As I got more involved, my dollars could go a lot further with one donation than trying to donate small amounts to a lot of places.

Question: What’s the one thing you want people to know about HCUW?

Answer: Harvey County United Way is an organization that does much more than what people realize. When a crisis happens in the county, United Way is one of the first organizations that will be on the scene. I don’t think that a lot people of know that crisis management is part of what Harvey County United Way does. My love for United Way grows every year that I am involved because I learn more the positive impact that we are making in the county. While we won’t see the impact today, we will see it five to 10 years from now as we are investing in tomorrow.

Thank you, Hannah, for your service to Harvey County and your unwavering support of Harvey County United Way.

Heart to Heart Spotlight

By Sheila G. Kelley, Development Coordinator

“Our first primary goal is to help the victim that has been abused but we recognize that kind of trauma effects everybody,” said executive director Veronica Mosqueda-Bargdill. Heart to Heart, located in downtown Newton, is a child advocacy center where the staff and small group of professionals serve child victims of abuse and their non-offending parent.

“We tell the parents that it’s <the abuse> a ripple effect and you’re going to experience every kind of emotion and it affects everybody different,” she said.

Heart to Heart staff

Heart to Heart Child Advocacy Center staff works with other area agencies to meet physical, mental, and emotional needs of children. According to their website, www.hearttoheart.com, their core mission is to help children who have suffered abuse to heal and improve their community’s ability to stop child abuse. They also provide resources for child abuse prevention.

A multi-disciplinary team meets monthly in each county they serve and consists of the county attorney, law enforcement, Department of Children and Families, mental health and medical. They also have school counselors and social workers available to provide further assistance.

“We know that just because they come here, the trauma doesn’t stop affecting them and we know it can affect any aspect of their life so it’s nice to have all these people together,” Veronica said.  “We’re there from the moment they come in here to the time their case is completed, whether it be through the court system or not.”

Once a family is referred to HTH, the child goes through a forensics interview to get as much information on the alleged act of abuse. While the evaluation team is gathering information from the interview, another HTH staff will visit with family members in the outer reception area.

“I’ll talk to the family about setting up resources such as medical, making sure they have their medical needs met and connecting them with trauma-informed therapists in our area,” said Dayna Steinmetz, Newton family advocate.

The reason for the forensic interview is to build a case against the alleged offender – what happened, timelines, any information that will help bring charges to the case. Grants from Harvey County United Way provides funding to purchase necessary equipment and other items used to make the encounter the best it can be in such circumstances.

“We make sure that we’re all working together, that we’re not pushing the child, that the child seems comfortable the whole time,” Veronica said.  “I tell them, I promise the majority of the time, their child doesn’t realize they’re having a conversation. They just think they are talking.”

Heart to Heart participating in HCUW’s annual Chili Cook-Off event.

Veronica stated that the agencies can only do the forensic interview once. The whole system is set up so the child doesn’t have to do it again.

“We go in knowing we have one shot to interview this child. That’s why it started in the first place. There was a kid and they ended up being interview 12 times over the course of all this. It retraumatizes a child, the victimization affects the child over and over,” she said.

“The grants from HCUW have been instrumental in our being able to keep up with the latest technology to make the entire process easier for not only the children and their families, but also the agencies involved to make a successful case against the <alleged> abuser,” she said.

We’re on the move

By Dalton Black, Executive Director

For many years, Harvey County United Way was housed in Central National Bank at Broadway and Main. As of March 1, 2022, we are now located at 500 Main Place!

The empty office at 103 E Broadway

Last fall, we hired Sheila, part-time to help us get through our annual campaign. We didn’t really have the space in our one room office for both her and I, but we made it work. Our campaign started to wrap up in January and it was near the end of Sheila’s time with us, but she had been such a great help that I didn’t really want to let her go.

The Board and I crunched some numbers and figured out, based on our pledges from the 2021 Annual Campaign, we could hire Sheila permanently! She accepted the position and I’m so excited to see what we can accomplish this year to address the health, education, and income stability needs in Harvey County. Her skills and experience will help us do even more to address these critical needs in our community.

Preparing the offices at 500 Main Place

One thing became clear to both Sheila and I; our current office was too small. So, I began the hunt to find a bigger space that was comparable to the rent we were already paying. I toured a lot of places but ultimately decided a two-office suite on the second floor of 500 Main Place would be the best fit for us.

We spent most of February, between sicknesses and snow days, painting and getting the new space ready. Then, through some bitterly cold days, we moved boxes and furniture. We are still working on unpacking and getting the new place setup, but we’re excited to have visitors as soon as everything is back in order!

Painting the new offices

With our move, we left behind several amenities that our previous landlord provided for us. We’ve already had a couple of generous donors who’ve help us acquire some of our Wishlist items, but if you have any of the things listed below, we’d be so appreciative of your donation.

Wishlist:

  • Refrigerator (small or medium sized)
  • Microwave

We’re looking at this move as the next chapter in Harvey County United Way’s life. The Board, Sheila and I hope you join us on this journey to creating lasting change in our community.

The “almost finished” offices at 500 Main Place, Suite 206