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Now is the time to be prepared

September is National Preparedness Month. As we turn our attention to response and support for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and prepare for Hurricane Irma, it is also a good time to create or review your own emergency preparedness plan and to consider registering as a disaster response volunteer. 

Here’s how to get started:

  1. 1.Register now to volunteer later. United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area works with Charlottesville area first responders and other emergency services organizations to establish emergency volunteer centers when disaster strikes. Sign up today to serve as a disaster response volunteer (no experience necessary, but welcome—all skill levels needed). Advance registration helps United Way with disaster preparedness planning and during an actual emergency.
  1. 2.Form your own emergency preparedness plan. Some tips:
    1. oMake a communications plan. Know where to meet and how to communicate with family and friends. Create a list of emergency contacts. Select a person who doesn’t live near you for family members to check in with. Have a back-up power source charged and ready to power your cell phone.
    2. oPrepare to evacuate your home. Review and practice escape routes. Plan to evacuate the region. Where to go? How to travel? Have cash – ATMs may not work. Don’t forget vitalAnd, how will you secure your home from flying debris, power outages and the like?
    3. oGet your vehicle ready. Keep a full tank of gas if an evacuation seems likely – gas pumps may not work just when you need to get out of town. Leave early. Follow evacuation routes.
    4. oCreate an emergency supply kit. Include enough provisions for at least three days. Include food, water, battery radio, flashlight, batteries, first aid, cell phone cables and chargers, andHave an emergency kit at home, work and in your car.
    5. oConsider special needs. Know your child’s school or day care emergency plan and contact information. Don’t forget to pack books, games and activities for kids. Have you thought of pets? Medications? Elders and the disabled? Pack extra clothes and blankets for people you may be transporting.
  1. 3.You’ll find more ideas for being prepared here.

Don’t let the unpleasant thought of an emergency deter you from making a plan to protect your family and yourself, and to serve others in need. Follow the basic steps above and you’ll sleep easier knowing you are ready.  And mark your calendar for next September, to review and update your emergency preparedness plans each year. 


National Preparedness Month


UNITED WAY YEAR OF CARING: Volunteer Counselors

Volunteer Counselors: Making Therapy Accessible at TWI

Women who need mental health services should get them, regardless of their ability to pay.

That’s the idea behind The Women’s Initiative, a Charlottesville nonprofit agency celebrating its tenth anniversary in newly renovated offices on East High Street.

TWI served 3,774 clients last year, making it a primary provider of mental health care in our area. That’s a milestone that couldn’t have been reached without the help of volunteer therapists.

“There’s a huge unmet need for accessible, affordable, effective mental health services for women who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Amanda Korman, the agency’s communications and outreach coordinator. “Our team of pro bono therapists is doing a tremendous amount of work and giving a tremendous gift to help solve that problem.”

But more volunteer therapists are needed, Korman said. TWI has walk-in clinics for short-term assistance. But there’s currently a waiting list for individual counseling sessions.

Some of the volunteer therapists work with as many as six clients, but therapists who only have time to see a single client are welcome. They can see clients at their own offices.

TWI also encourages retired therapists to consider volunteering. And in case you were wondering, male therapists are welcome, too.  The agency has worked hard to develop a diverse staff of therapists, some of whom are bilingual.

 “We are dependent on the generosity of therapists in our community who donate their time to serve our clients,” said Elizabeth Irvin, TWI’s executive director. “We are actively seeking new volunteers.”

Volunteering can be a rewarding experience on many levels, and therapists who sign up like it so much, they tend to stick around.

Aside from the satisfaction of helping individual clients, therapists can benefit from networking with peers and attending free clinical training sessions. They also love the opportunities to get creative in group therapy settings.

“Being a pro bono therapist connects you with a lot of resources,” Korman said.

Volunteers are also needed in support roles, such as child care (which is free to clients who come to the office for therapy sessions).

To learn more, watch this video, visit TWI’s volunteer opportunities page, or call (434) 872-0047.

TWI video photo-1-5

UNITED WAY RELAY: Are you a philanthropist?

Are you a philanthropist? Can you run half a mile?

Think you’re not a philanthropist because don’t have a gazillion dollars to give away?

Think again.

Webster defines a philanthropist as “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare.”

By that definition, we can all be philanthropists. So here’s a good way to join the club:

  1. Find three friends, family members, or coworkers who can run half a mile (doesn’t matter how fast).
  2. Register your four-person team to participate in the first United Way Relay on June 24 at Albemarle High School.

Please hurry. We need 100 more teams!  Register online today.

Teams can include kids as young as 10. The relay starts at 7:30. Teams need to arrive by 7 to get signed in and lined up for their runs.

There will be food and activities for kids. Joe Thomas of WCHV will broadcast live from the event.

Relay proceeds go to the United Way who, in partnership with UVa Health System and Sentara-Martha Jefferson Hospital, will support programs that help underserved people in our community access health care.

When we work together, we can make our whole community healthier – whether it’s helping moms get the prenatal care they need, improving access to basic care, or collaborating across our health systems to improve community-based care.


UNITED WAY YEAR OF CARING: Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Needs Volunteers

The 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive will take place on May 13, 2017. That’s the day when people across the countryleave cans and boxes of food for their letter carriers to collect. Ever wonder what happens with all that food?Hunger Drive Action Shot

In our area, it goes to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, and it takes a small army of volunteers to get it there. All of the donated food will be sorted at our main post office, and then packed up for delivery to the food bank.

Stamp Out Hunger, the nation’s largest single-day food drive, was created by the National Association of Letter Carriers in response to the needs they saw every day on their routes. Last year, the letter carriers collected a record 80 million pounds of nonperishable food nationwide.

The event is well timed, too. As the end of the school year approaches, thousands of children who rely on free and reduced school breakfasts and lunches will go hungry this summer without your help.

How to volunteer:

Please contact Caroline Emerson, United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 434-972-1701 to sign up.

Here are the details regarding the commitment you’ll be making to volunteer:

Date: Saturday, May 13, 2017

Location: Charlottesville Main Post Office, Route 29N

Hours: 3-7 pm.

Volunteers must be 16 or older and must be able to commit to a 2-hour time slot, rain or shine. Sturdy closed-toed shoes are a must. You must be fit enough to lift 20-pound boxes many times during your shift.

How to donate

Please don’t forget to leave a bag of non-perishable food for your letter carrier. Here’s a link to all the info you need about how to make a donation. Thank you for helping to feed our community! 

UNITED WAY YEAR OF CARING: Human Foosball Tournament

The folks at Jefferson Area CHiP found a way to put the fun back into fundraising.

Molly Fulton, CHiP’s development director got the creative idea for a Human Foosball Tournament when she saw a Facebook post about someone’s backyard court.

The third annual tournament takes place on Sunday, April 23 at Ix Art Park, 1-5 pm. Teams pay to play, but spectators get in free. And for CHiP, making friends is a big part of the plan.

“The real value lies in reaching people who might not otherwise be aware of us,” Fulton said. “It helps people learn about CHiP in a way that’s fun and memorable.”

The Foosball action takes places on four courts, and games run throughout the afternoon. Along with the friendly competition, there will be food, beer, music, and face painting.

Volunteers are needed to keep score, referee, chase balls, and assist with parking and registration. For more info, contact Molly Fulton at 964-4708.

CHiP stands for Child Health Improvement Program. Jefferson Area CHiP helps families raise healthy kids through visits with families in their homes. Come to the tournament or visit CHiP’s website to learn more.


UNITED WAY YEAR OF CARING: Charlottesville Ten Miler

ten miler volunteer

The Charlottesville Ten Miler has been our community’s premier running event for the past 41 years. Started as a way to support the running community, it has evolved into an enterprise that supports our whole community in many ways.

Profits from the Ten Miler are donated to different non-profit beneficiaries each year.  This year’s beneficiaries are 100 Black Men of Central Virginia, Foothills Child Advocacy Center, and Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle.

More than 2,000 runners are expected to take part in this year’s race, and it takes more than 400 volunteers to get things organized and make it all work on race day.  

“Volunteers are absolutely essential for the runners’ safety,” said race director Nicole Brimer. “There are 115 intersections along the course. There are volunteers at each and every one to prevent vehicles from entering the race course and possibly injuring a runner.”

On race day (March 18), volunteers will also help set up the course, hand out water to the runners, hang no-parking signs along the course, hand out medals to finishers, and clean up after it’s over.

There are still some volunteers spots open, and you can sign-up to volunteer at the Ten Miler website.

The Ten Miler also promotes health and fitness in our community. The Charlottesville Track Club offers training programs for the Ten Miler and other local footraces, including the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler, which benefits the UVa Cancer Center. Track club members safely guide people of all abilities to achieve their running goals and make exercise a key component of a healthy lifestyle.

There’s a new charity running event on the calendar this year. On Saturday, June 24, the first United Way Relay takes place at Albemarle High School. Stay tuned for more details.

United Way Mentor-Tutor Volunteer Fair on January 27!

YOU can make a difference in someone’s life!

United Way Mentor-Tutor Volunteer Fair on January 27!


Do you consider yourself a successful person? Chances are you had some help along the way.

Maybe you were lucky enough to have a parent, a teacher, a coach, or a colleague who taught and modeled all sorts of skills. While you were learning a practical skill like long division, free throw shooting or square knots, you also absorbed a bit of your mentor’s social skills, emotional maturity, work ethic or joyful outlook on life.

Lots of people aren’t so lucky. So maybe it’s time you paid it forward?

Not sure where to start? Stop by the United Way Mentor and Tutor Volunteer Fair on Friday, January 27, 11am-2pm at the Omni-Charlottesville Hotel. No pressure, just a fun way to learn about your community and how you can change someone’s life. Light food and drink will be provided, and parking is free.

Chat with representatives from the following agencies. Learn what each program requires. Find a role that fits your personality and schedule.

  • 100 Black Men of Central Virginia
  • Adult Learning Center
  • Albemarle County Public Schools
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Book Buddies, Charlottesville City Schools
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries
  • Charlottesville Scholarship Program
  • City of Promise
  • Computers4Kids
  • Enrichment Alliance
  • Girl Scouts of Virginia
  • Literacy Volunteers
  • PB&J Fund
  • Piedmont CASA
  • Piedmont YMCA

Studies have shown that mentorship programs help clients stay in school, make healthier choices, and avoid substance abuse. They can also greatly enrich the lives of the volunteers. 

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