United Way Newsletter

Winter 2009-2010 

Also in this issue... 

From the President
UW Campaign Update
Report to the Community
Community Impact Platform

Education Spotlight: Lights on


Not For Profit Resource Center

Day of Caring 2009


Wellness Spotlight: Domestic

Violence Awareness Month


Volunteer Opportunities: Income


Advocacy Update                           


2008 Philanthropists of the Year:

Ted and Ginna Walsh




Taja is an incredible young woman. She is a great example of the life-changing experience children can have when they sign up for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County’s mentoring program.

Taja was 10 when she was matched with her “Big,” CeCe. They would make crafts at CeCe’s house, or take CeCe’s dog for a walk in the park and take pictures. In addition to spending one-on-one time together, Taja and CeCe also enjoyed group activities with other Bigs and Littles, including the circus, holiday dinners and sporting events. “I probably wouldn’t have experienced as many things as I have if it weren’t for CeCe,” said Taja. “I’m open to more stuff now. She helped me grow as a person.”


There were few people in her life with whom Taja could share her dreams about school and a better life. “We talked about school and stuff—school was my passion,” Taja said. Other than her mother, CeCe was the only person Taja could talk to about that. “My friends didn’t really care—they were barely passing. I liked to excel.”


Throughout their eight-year friendship, CeCe listened to Taja and encouraged her. She was there every step of the way—eighth grade graduation, Taja’s induction into the National Honor Society, class day, getting ready for prom, and finally, high school graduation.  With her Big Sister, CeCe, as a role model and mentor, Taja became valedictorian of her class at East High School in Buffalo and is now majoring in criminal justice at Buffalo State College.


“She showed me I didn’t have to be stuck forever,” Taja said of her Big Sister. “CeCe came from the same economic background as me and she’s doing great.”  Now that she’s 18, Taja is no longer officially a Little Sister, but CeCe is still a great source of friendship, advice, and trust. After eight incredible years together, Taja said, “I love CeCe like she’s family.”


Recently Taja’s younger sister, Janyia, was matched with a Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County. Janyia has the same spark that Taja has. With the guidance, friendship and experiences of a Big Sister mentor, who knows who she can become!




Mentoring programs have been shown to help youth build the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.  Compared to other youth, children with quality mentoring relationships are 46% less likely to start using drugs, and 52% less likely to skip a day at school.


This year, United Way is investing $45,000 in Big Brothers Big Sisters, which places carefully screened and trained adult volunteer mentors into the lives of at-risk youth between the ages of 6 and 15.  In addition, it provides group mentoring and school-based mentoring.  All program services are designed to provide caring adult support that children and young people need to overcome the risk factors prevalent in our community and help them make choices that will move them forward in life.


In 2008, program evaluation results indicated that none of the participating students were involved with gangs, and 98% had no involvement with the juvenile justice system.  92% of students had no suspensions from school, and 94% had no unauthorized absences.  100% of participants showed improvement in self-confidence, competence in the use of school and community resources, school preparedness, and caring including showing trust in others.


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