United Way of Bedford County partnered with Membership Services Corp. in May 2006 to distribute free prescription drug discount cards to assist families who otherwise could not afford much needed prescription drugs. The cards can reduce prescription drug costs by an average of 35 percent. The cards can be obtained from local participating partner agencies or by contacting United Way of Bedford County. Most pharmacies accept the prescription drug discount cards. They have no usage limits, age requirements or registration forms. As of December 2014, over 600 cards have been distributed to assist families in Bedford County since its inception. Over 50 cards were distributed in 2014.
According to a report received from Membership Services Corp, the prescription drug discount cards have saved Bedford County residents over $181,000 since the partnership began.
Child Safety Initiative
"Uniting to Keep Kids Safe" was designed to educate parents and children about safety and abduction concerns. In October 2006, a $10,000 grant was received from Jostens Foundation to purchase 5,000 Child Identification Kits to use as identifiers for lost or missing children. A "Be Smart: Say No to Strangers" coloring and activity book was also purchased with grant funds. The book discusses the topics of safety and abduction, z is a useful educational tool for parents, children, and educators. The purpose of the project is to assist parents in having all relevant information readily available to assist law enforcement in launching the most effective rescue effort possible should a child be abducted or go missing. The child id kit is designed to keep a photo, fingerprints, medical and dental records, DNA sample, and other information for emergencies.
A child safety fun fair was held at H.V. Griffin Park on October 25, 2014. It included law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, and any other agencies focusing on safety of children. Child identification kits were distributed to over 150 children ages 2-15 and over 250 children participated in the event, with an estimated 500 people overall. Law enforcement also assisted in fingerprinting the children on-site. Kits have also been distributed to local law enforcement, local childcare programs, and at local health fairs and youth activities upon request. The project has emphasized how parents, children, educators, and the community can work together to keep children safe.
In 2009, the fair was also expanded to include vendor booths offering additional activities to participants. No fee was charged to participate, but vendors were asked to offer a child friendly activity; balloons, face painting, games, hand washing station, etc.
Over 500 child ID kits were distributed throughout 2013. As of December 2014, the Child Safety Initiative has provided over 5,000 Child ID kits and activity books to children ages 2-15 in Bedford County since its inception.
Water safety was added to the child safety initiative in 2009. The Sixth Annual Water Safety Weekend was held on May 31 at Shelbyville Parks and Recreation. The event was held in memory of Matthew G. Woods who drowned at age 2 in 2008.
Parents and caregivers were instructed on the importance of water safety and gave simple, yet valuable, instruction on safety techniques by Shelbyville Recreations Center staff. Children were entertained through water games. The event was sponsored by the Shelbyville Fire Department, the Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Center and United Way of Bedford County. Approximately 64 children and 37 adults were in attendance.
Stuff the School Bus
"Stuff The School Bus," a drive to collect school supplies for needy children, was implemented in the summer of 2007. During the month of July and August 2014 supplies were collected through 21drop boxes throughout Bedford County and through a day-long event held at Wal-Mart Supercenter. More than 8,500 items were collected -- and that counts, for example, a plastic bag of pencils as one item, not each individual pencil.
The number of items for each school was based on poverty level and age appropriateness and were delivered to schools the first week in August. Guidance counselors at each school will be in charge of making sure that the supplies are given to children who can benefit from them. A second distribution of school supplies were distributed to schools mid-year. Over 200 additional items were purchased with the funds collected in the initial drive.
Over 56,000 school supplies have been collected and distributed through the Bedford County School System since its inception.
Day of Caring
The 6th annual Day of Caring event was held on September 11 in conjunction with the campaign kick-off. Over fifty (54) volunteers from eight (8) local businesses/organizations spread out all over the Bedford County area to assist with eight (8) projects submitted by United Way partner agencies. Projects included painting, cleaning windows, and general maintenance of facilities and client yards.
Projects were completed at Caregiver Relief office and four (4) Client Homes, Child Development Center, Great Strides Therapeutic Riding Program, and Haven of Hope.
NALC Food Drive
United Way of Bedford County assists with the marketing for the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Food Drive. Flyers were distributed via e-mail and the May 11 event was posted on the United Way of Bedford County Facebook Page. Over 5,350 pounds of food was collected a distributed to Good Samaritan, the primary local food pantry in Bedford County.
Fired Up 'N Fit Adventure 5K
United Way has coordinated a fall 5K since 2008. Although a fundraising event, UWBC also promotes the event as a health initiative. The main sponsor for the event is Heritage Medical Center. In 2014, the 5K generated around 75 and was held on October 25.
In 2012, United Way of Bedford County coordinated a "Fired Up 'N Fit Challenge" Adventure 5K. The 2014 event was held on June 7. The event was held at the TN Fire & Codes Academy. The event generated over 300 participations
Day of Action -- Reading in Nature
United Way of Bedford County partnered with Argie Cooper Public Library and the Bedford County Department of Education for Day of Action on June 20 at H.V. Griffin Park. United Way's around the country participated in Day of Action. Approximately 20 children were in attendance. Bryan Nerren read a story to the kids. The kids were led on a tour through the Wonder Trail and Jessica Osborne with the Argie Cooper Library coordinated outdoor friendly crafts. The day emphasized the importance of reading and literacy.
Raise Your Hand Bedford County
Raise Your Hand Bedford County (RYHBC) pairs volunteers with children in the Bedford County School System with the goal of improving children's reading ability and increasing their appreciation and enjoyment of literature. The program serves students in kindergarten through grade five. United Way of Bedford County (UWBC) works collaboratively with the Bedford County Department of Education (BCDOE) in developing program components, materials, and processes for volunteer training, support, and tracking. Volunteers support students, teachers, and parents in improving reading achievement.
Recruited volunteers underwent an orientation on October 16 and were required to obtain background checks through United Way of Bedford County. Volunteers entered the school system the first week of November. By the end of December, there were a total of fifteen (15) active volunteers with one volunteer in each elementary school.
Summary for 2014
* Over 50 Prescription Discount Cards Distributed (Over $25,000 savings in 2014)
* Over 500 Child ID Kits and Activity Booklets Distributed
* Over 8,500 School Supplies Collected and Distributed to Local Schools
* Over 100 individuals participated in the Water Safety Weekend activities
* 54 volunteers assisted with eight (8) projects during Day of Caring event in September
* 15 volunteer readers recruited and in the school system
Partner Agency Services
United Way of Bedford County Partner Agencies served over 16,000 Bedford County residents in 2014.
United Way of Bedford County partnered with the Bedford County School System to facilitate the Backpack Program. The program launched in February 2010. The Backpack program sends food home to children in the school system who qualify under the McKinney Vento Act. On average, over 100 children receive food on Friday to sustain over the weekend. A total of ten (10) items are placed in the children(s) backpack weekly.
UWBC acts as the fiscal agent for the program. United Way of Bedford County secured over $8,000 in grant funding through Second Harvest Food Bank for the program in the 2010 and 2011 year. A breakdown revealed a total of 880 children served, 3,518 backpacks distributed and 24,863 meals provided for the 2013/2014 school year.
Non-Profit and Program Services Networking
United Way of Bedford County organized the first Non-Profit and Program Services Networking event in April 2009. The event brings representatives from all service sectors together to educate them on available services within Bedford County and network for the purpose of referrals and partnerships.
The events are held three times a year at the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce. Representatives from health and human service agencies, churches, school system, DHS, DOH, and other representatives participate.
United Way of Bedford County continues to maintain a business page on Facebook to update and educate donors and supporters on their local UW. To date, there are over 800 "fans". The page includes photos of recent events and upcoming events for United Way of Bedford County and its partner agencies.
The 2014 Spooktacular 5K run and walk benefiting United Way of Bedford County was held Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014. Some participants dressed in costume.