I don’t know about you, but it always seems like summer goes by faster each year.
As a parent, I know how chaotic it can be to prepare your children to go back to school.
Having a senior in high school this year has given me a chance to reflect on my own children’s education throughout the years. I am so thankful for the education all of my children have received in this wonderful community. The bonds and friendships they all formed at Dalton First United Methodist Day Care/Preschool and summer camp at Camp Joy are still strong today. The relationships and support systems with other parents are also strong.
I must admit I have had my share of days filled with working mom guilt, but the skills and bonds formed in the early years laid the groundwork for future success both in the classroom and with basic life skills. The foundation was strengthened in Dalton Public Schools. Success is possible because of the passionate teachers and support staff in our local school systems who understand that early education sets the tone for a child’s developmental and decision-making skills. As a mom, these are priceless.
Here at United Way of Northwest Georgia, we focus 365 days a year on improving the education, basic needs and the health of every person in our community. Education is one of our top priorities — 46% of our funding supports education programming. Getting kids ready for kindergarten, reading at grade level by third grade and graduating on time with skills to be career and life-ready is critical to a community’s overall success. Our community places a strong emphasis on education and support systems for children and families. It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about this year knowing that all children are getting a great education that will set them up for success in life.
With United Way, 5,023 youth in our community benefitted from after-school care and mentoring programs last year — youth like Aaron.
Aaron is a student at Murray County High School and is actively involved in Murray County 4-H. Aaron began his journey with 4-H a few years ago. After his mother passed away, Aaron was adopted by his aunt and uncle. His aunt Melinda was involved in 4-H when she was in school and firmly believes it positively impacts the lives of children. She encouraged Aaron, and all of her nephews, to join 4-H.
Thanks to United Way, Aaron attended summer camp along with several of his peers. He met kids from all over our area and grew in his leadership development skills. Aaron was president of the Junior Board where he conducted meetings, helped plan the conference at Rock Eagle (the annual 4-H summer camp) and utilized his public speaking. United Way enables teens like Aaron to have life-changing experiences at summer camp where they can learn, have fun and grow as leaders!
So as we kick off the United Way campaign season, know that a gift to United Way of Northwest Georgia is a longterm investment in the children of our community that will pay great dividends — children like Aaron. You are enhancing school readiness and strengthening family dynamics; preventing child abuse; providing mentoring, safe places to play, tutoring and leadership development; and keeping youth on track for school, work and life.
Happy back to school! Live 'United'!
Amanda Burt is the president of United Way of Northwest Georgia.