United Way — Live United
In The News
Summer literacy program rewards Eugene-Springfield children with free books
Norene Walters and her six children are regular attendees of United Way of Lane County’s “Summer Reading Spots” program at Petersen Park. Walters and her family live nearby, so they often walk to the park and read under the shade of a tree.
“We get to be outside, we get to read, and it’s a way that we can all spend time together,” Walters said Tuesday. “Every time the kids come they get a little sticker next to their name, and when they get five, they get a prize, so there’s incentive and they get to enjoy reading.”
She says she will continue to come back with her six girls — Sarah, Camilla, Rachel, Alyssa, Morgan and newborn Etta — as long as the reading program is around.
Now in its fourth year, the program has parents like Walters heading to parks with kids in tow to sit in the grass, listen to a volunteer reader and take home a new book each day that they participate. The program started in late June and runs through Aug. 15, with readings each Monday through Thursday at three locations in Springfield and Tuesday through Thursday at Petersen Park in west Eugene.
Volunteers put words into action
What do Sterling Bank and Ninkasi have in common? They both were concerned by low childhood literacy rates in Lane County and wanted to help.
The brewery and the bank came together with other local businesses in the United Way of Lane County’s first ever Day of Action to build literacy kits for children across the Eugene-Springfield area. The kits included books, interactive artwork, coloring books and information on summer reading projects that are co-sponsored by United Way and the Springfield and Eugene public libraries.
“We have supplies enough for about a thousand kids, we anticipate getting at least 500 done today,” said Brittany Quick-Warner, United Way volunteer coordinator.
About 56 percent of children in Lane County have underdeveloped literacy and language skills when they enter kindergarten, according to the United Way.
Givers on the receiving end
Philanthropy just comes naturally to bankers Larry and Connie Hedberg, which helps explain why they were caught off guard when their years of community support earned them United Way of Lane County’s Alton F. Baker Award — the organization’s highest honor — at the agency’s 2013 United Way Community Celebration.
“We feel very honored,” Larry Hedberg said about receiving the award, which was announced Monday night at the Hilton Eugene. “We’ve observed others receiving this award, always people we respected.
“We never expected it for us; we always just do our thing, so it’s very nice (to be recognized).”
The Hedbergs have been involved with United Way for decades — since the 1980s. Both also have long careers in banking: Larry Hedberg works with U.S. Bank and Connie Hedberg most recently worked with Home Federal Bank.
Can Oregon save American health care?
In 2011, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber faced a vexing problem: The state had a $2 billion hole in its Medicaid budget and no good way to fill it.
He could cut doctors’ pay by 40 percent, but that might lead to them quitting Medicaid altogether. He could drop patients or benefits, but that would only compound costs in the long run. A former emergency room doctor, Kitzhaber remembers culling the Medicaid rolls in the 1980s, when he served as a state senator.
“When I went back home, and went back to the emergency department, I saw a couple of people who came in who lost coverage under that decision,” he said. “One of them was a guy who had had a massive stroke. These people don’t disappear.”
Ready to Learn
Having a child always will change the lives of a parent. For Stephanie Wagner, having her son led her to a new career choice: child care.
When Wagner, now 42, returned to work upon giving birth to her second child, Joseph, four years ago, she decided that her old job in the food industry was no longer her calling.
“Not working at home wasn’t working for me,” Wagner said.