Tuesday, August 31, 2010

INFOline of Gregg County 9th Anniversary

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By LaDelle Kay
INFOline Program Manager

As I wrote last week, I love festivals and celebrations! This week we’re celebrating the 9th anniversary of GLUW’s INFOline of Gregg County. It seems like yesterday that we began and yet so much longer. So many things have happened as we grew from the birthing process to where we are today with calls totaling 39,500 plus!

INFOline began as a dream over 10 years ago when several people in the community sensed the need of a community free, confidential information and referral system. Their vision was to bridge the gap between people needing resources or information and the health and human service organizations with resources to meet the need. As they researched ways to make this dream become a reality, one of the members became aware of a grant through the state for this type of service to benefit especially low income residents. INFOline of Gregg County was implemented with a $100,000 which covered most of the first 2 years. Greater Longview United Way provides the major funding for the program. INFOline publishes a Resource Directory with detailed listings of 161 organizations and 523 programs. In addition, the Directory is online on our website.

As I think back over the many calls during these 9 years, I think of the faces behind those calls and celebrate when we know that we have been able to get people in touch with the resources they need. It also saddens me when I have to tell the caller that we’re unable to help because the resources have been exhausted due to the rapidly increasing needs. When we’re unable to give them exactly what they are seeking, many times we are able to press further in the conversation and find other ways to help them. An example is if rental assistance is not available, we ask if they have utility bills and maybe they can use an agency to get that paid and use that money toward rent. We encourage them to take advantage of free courses in money management offered by some agencies.

I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to implement this program as program manager and see it grow from it’s inception to a well-recognized, reliable community service. Sometimes we get a blessing from helping others, but we are especially blessed to live in a community where people work together to improve the quality of life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cultural Diversity

By Ladelle Kay, INFOline Program Manager

I love festivals and celebrations! All my senses are heightened. I love the sounds of different languages, the smell of sometimes unfamiliar foods, the sights of costumes and dress from different races and cultures, the taste of delicious foods, and the touch of beads and artistic items produced by somewhere else in the world.

In the early 1990’s I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was a fantastic adventure each year in late summer or early fall as millions of people lined the banks of the Charles River between the cities. People learned to communicate and enjoy the diversity as we shared experiences of our culture. Education is the key to understanding and there were so many opportunities to learn how to live together in harmony even though we had many differences. We celebrated the unity in diversity.
In late September, we have this same opportunity in Longview, Texas as our annual Multicultural Festival arrives. The Multicultural Festival is a family-friendly event designed to encourage the community to become more conscious of ethnic cultures, recognize that we have more in common than differences, and unite against racism. Event activities include cultural entertainment, vendors, food and music. Admission is free.

During the event on September 25, 2010 the Longview Exhibit Building will be transformed into one of the biggest stages in our region, drawing performers and visitors from across the country. The festival remains squarely a “grassroots” event, driven by the enthusiastic support it receives from the Longview Race Relations Committee. Many people from across the area are involved in its preparation: individuals, groups, the city staff and volunteers.

Multicultural Festival

When: Saturday, September 28, 2010
Where: Longview Exhibit Building, 1123 Jaycee Dr., Longview, Texas.
Time: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm


Monday, August 16, 2010

It is stuffing time!!

By Eloisa Herrero

It is stuffing time at the Greater Longview United Way. Stuffing time?? You might be wondering. It is not even close to Thanksgiving!

GLUW likes to do its stuffing early, but we do not stuff turkeys…at least not yet!

Our stuffing begins early July when we stuff packets for our pacesetter companies. It is like an early going back to school for us when we start stuffing packets with new brochures, pledge forms, posters, videos, etc. All these packets are distributed during the Pacesetters luncheon hoping our pacesetter companies will lead the way to a successful campaign.

August stuffing begins with invitations to companies to be our event sponsors. The event sponsors help defray the cost of campaign activities so more funds can benefit those in need.

Stuffing continues in August, this time envelopes are stuffed with invitations and tickets for our campaign kickoff.

Before our kickoff in September, all the stuffed packets for the rest of the companies need to be ready for our volunteers to pick up and deliver. Here is when all the fun and hard work begins for our great volunteers.

From September to November hundreds of letters are stuffed and sent. We ask our donors to LIVE UNITED and help us with their generous donations to improve the quality of life in our community.

November comes and after stuffing all those letters, we are ready to stuff the turkey!

After the New Year, we are ready to do the last stuffing of our campaign. This stuffing is very special for us because it gives us the opportunity to say THANK YOU to all the people who contributed to our campaign.

All the GLUW staff is ready and looking forward to the 2010 Campaign!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Earn it, Keep it, Save it!! - Say no to payday loans!!

Eloisa Herrero

During the past several months the media around the world has covered the controversy surrounding Arizona’s New Immigration Law. Almost everybody has read or heard about it and probably everybody has formed an opinion about this law, either against or for.

However, I believe the media has failed to give enough coverage to a very important law that took effect on July 1st in Arizona, if they did I must have completely missed it.

Payday lending ended in Arizona on July 1, 2010. Arizona did it by cancelling the payday lenders' exemption to the state's 36% loan interest rate cap. This is a huge step towards protecting working families who are trying to get ahead.
Unfortunately, the outlook is not as good in Texas. Many families use payday loans as a last resort to meet their basic needs. For a two-week payday loan, people will pay more or less fifteen dollars for every $100 they borrowed which roughly represents a 390% annual percentage rate (APR)! Those who cannot pay off the loan on time often take a new loan to pay off the first one and soon they find themselves in a cycle of loans, which they cannot break.

I believe it would be a great idea if we could all ADVOCATE for a solution to this growing problem by urging the Texas state law makers to create stricter laws for the payday loan businesses.

By doing so we would help a lot of people in our communities to get out of debt faster, meet their basic needs, build assets and attain a better quality of life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back to School!!

By Eloisa Herrero

Back to school means new teachers, new friends, new classrooms or maybe new schools. When I was a kid, it also meant new books, new pencils, new uniforms, new shoes, and new backpacks. During all those years, it never crossed my mind that going back to school could have possibly meant new worries for my parents!

When you are a kid you never worry about that. I never knew if they struggled or not to come up with the extra money to get all my school supplies. I was fortunate to have my school supplies ready to go back to school every year and I am so thankful for that now.

Even though I am not a parent, I know now the incredible burden that going back to school could mean to many parents. They must hate this time of the year!

Fortunately, for those parents who need a little help getting their kids’ school supplies there are resources that I would like to share with them:

School Supply Train in Longview
Where: The ROC at the corner of South and Fredonia Streets (across from First Baptist Church of Longview)

When: August 13th from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
August 14th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

• School Supplies in Kilgore
Where: St. Luke’s Methodist Church - 401 E Main (Entrance across from Citizen’s Bank)

When: August 18th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
August 19th from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or until supplies last.

For more information call INFOline of Gregg County at 903-236-9211