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United Way is proud to sponsor for over 5 years the Rockford Patriot's Boxing Club! This gym is in the heart of Midtown District (one of United Way's priority neighborhoods). United Way believes that access to healthy programming in any neighborhood is key to building a Strong Neighborhood. Rockford Patriot's Boxing Club, a program of Patriot's Gateway Community Center, is mostly noted for the participation of Angel Martinez, an Olympic hopeful and 2017 USA Boxing Youth Male Boxer of the Year. And though Angel is all the talk, this weekend the attention is brought back to core of this wonderful program for area youth.

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Labor Day is a tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country. To celebrate the day, Rockford United Labor will host the 66th Annual Labor Day Parade on Monday, September 3, 2018 in downtown Rockford. The parade will start at 10:00 a.m. The Parade begins at 6th Avenue and 7th Street, winds its way through Midtown District, and ends at Davis Park. This year's Grand Marshall is International Association of Fire Fighters Local 413 President, Christopher Scrol and the theme is "Organized Labor Promotes Strong Communities."

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On behalf of the Rockford United Labor Golf Play Day Committee, thank you for your support of the 24rd Annual Golf Play Day to benefit United Way of Rock River Valley’s Success By 6 school readiness initiative. It turned out to be a perfect day of golf and camaraderie among labor partners and friends of labor, and we are so appreciative of your support for this worthy cause.

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You are invited to observe Denim Day by wearing jeans on Wednesday, April 25 with United Way, the City of Rockford, and other local organizations. Denim Day is an international activity aimed at showing support for survivors of sexual assault. In 1998, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing tight jeans and the Justices reasoned that she must have helped remove them herself, therefore making the rape consensual. Outraged by this ruling, women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans the next day to show their support of the victim.

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March is Middle Level Education Month. This annual recognition provides a special opportunity to focus on the middle grades, a very important time in the education of our children. Other than from birth to age three, 10- to 15-year-olds are experiencing the most rapid, significant changes of their lives—changes that are physical, social, emotional, and cognitive in nature.

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You’ve likely heard the adage, “Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes.” Well, thanks to United Way of Rock River Valley, at least one of those things is easier.

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The United Way of Rock River Valley is proud to announce financial support to the Open Access Child and Family Counseling program at Ellis Elementary as part of our Strong Neighborhoods Initiative. We are happy to partner with Rosecrance in sustaining a program that is vital to the success of Ellis’ students and their families.

For a moment it seemed like the program would be shut down, but because of YOUR donations the United Way of Rock River Valley was able to keep this program open for the remainder of the school year. The Open Access program focuses on improved student behavior, family/school relationship building, and decreasing crisis intervention. It is with great pride that we help fund a program that has seen:

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A great day at the Strong Neighborhood House on 8th Avenue. A celebration of MLK a little late, but always on time.

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In December of 2017, I traveled to the country of Ghana in West Africa. My week-long trip was amazing for a number of reasons. One of the highlights was visiting the capital city of Accra, and stopping into the offices of United Way of Ghana!

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Some Rockford employers have difficulty filling positions. And yet nearly 1 in 4 residents in the Ellis Heights neighborhood on Rockford's west side are still without a job. Some lack the skills and education for available jobs but others simply do not have the resources necessary to find employment. There are few opportunities within the neighborhood itself. And to even find a suitable job, one needs to travel to job fairs or have a computer and the skills necessary to effectively find and apply for jobs. A United Way Strong Neighborhoods job fair program helped bridge the gap to get residents into the workforce.

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Every year, drug manufacturers and health insurance companies negotiate the coverage of each medication on the market. Sometimes, the insurance companies decide they will no longer cover a drug that they have covered in the past. If you anticipate losing insurance coverage on one of your prescription medications next year, our partners at FamilyWize Community Service Partnership say to not panic.

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United Way of Rock River Valley is hosting a Santa's Workshop on Thursday, December 14th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm for the students and families of Ellis Elementary School. This event will reward families at Ellis Elementary School for attending various family engagement activities throughout the school year. 

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As many of you know, I am a die-hard Illinois football fan and my wife will tell you that my decked-out Fighting Illini trailer is just one example of my obsession. Illinois memorabilia adorns my office, I sport a large orange and blue wardrobe, and, for years, I have been a faithful season ticket holder.

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This is the final installment on the Thinking of End of the Year Giving series.  I hope you've come in from the cold (actually it's beautiful outside), finished up holiday shopping (there are still 24 days left ), and are considering how your monetary gifts can help those in need.

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As the air turns cooler and the days grow shorter, our minds quickly turn to the final three months of the year, with thoughts of family gathering around the dinner table over Thanksgiving and then quickly turning to the writing of wish lists and the ensuing rush of gift buying for the holiday season. One item on your end of year to do list which may outlast a stylish sweater or the latest electronic gadget may be to contemplate making charitable donations before the calendar ushers in year 2018.

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