United Way | The Power of People, Places and Pride


November 13, 2015

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What makes you happy?  I think we’ve all heard that question asked several times, and I’m sure we’ve all answered it differently at one time or another.  To each their own, but what we learned a few weeks ago in Asheville, NC at a local middle school is that even a single person, a single place, and a single feeling can make all the difference.

United Way LogoGreen Nature Marketing with the help of the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County spent some quality time at the Enka Middle School located a few miles outside of downtown Asheville.  Enka like other schools in the Western North Carolina region is home to several food insecure kids.  Well over 55% of the kids at the school are on some form of free or reduced lunch and only get meals at school.  That percentage is linked to the high percentage of poverty in the area. Together these stats present a very difficult situation for the Enka school staff, the kids, and the community.

To solve Enka’s situation it will take more that just food donations and a few hours of labor, it will take people!   The United Way along with Enka’s staff and community volunteers are on a mission for change.  We learned in Asheville, children who live in poverty graduate from high school at a rate of 77% while their classmates graduate at a rate of 90%.  Poverty presents obstacles besides food insecurity, and these obstacles will create more if these kids fail to graduate.  In an effort to stop the cycle of poverty, United Way has established a “Middle School Success” initiative focusing on improving the ABC’s, Attendance, Behavior and Core Subject.  As documented by the United Way, without intervention, middle school students with one or more indicators in these areas only have a 25% chance of graduating High School.  Looking for early warnings is why the United Way and community volunteers are putting more focus on middle schools.

United Way ImageAbout the place, Enka Middle School.  Similar to the free school lunches and emergency food for home, or the extra attention from a teacher or mentor, the Enka students also find comfort in their school!  Like the quote from a famous movie “find your happy place”, school is that place for so many kids.  Although Enka’s reality is no comedy, it is true. The staff will tell you that the students respond better, their attitude changes when they come to school, and even more so when they witness the improvements being made.  The GNM team was only on site for a few hours, but we all agree the comments by the kids and the staff were uplifting and awesome. It was exciting to to see the progress we made with the help of members from our brand community and the affect it had on elevating the level of pride by those that call Enka home.

Enka LogoPride: The state of being proud, feeling important, satisfaction taken in something done, and belonging.  It’s not just doing an act or taking ownership, it’s playing a part of, or having something done for you.  Green Nature Marketing is proud of our outreach, we are proud of organizations like United Way and we are proud of our brand partners; Clif Bar & Co., Bob’s Red Mill, Bare Snacks, Nature’s Bakery, Angie’s Boomchickapop, Mary’s Gone Crackers, and Mamma Chia for the food donations and time spent volunteering.  However, we are MOST proud of the opportunity to work along side those who spend countless hours at Enka.  So thank you Kris Dionne, Kyle Garrett, Molly Pittman and Colonel Dennis Watts for allowing us to help in some way.  Your dedication to the students was felt and forever changed our team!  And thank you to the staff and fine students of Enka Middle School, we wish you all the best!

For more images of the day please visit the gallery here! Enjoy and go make a difference in your community – just a little time can help eliminate obstacles!

Enka GNM Painting Enka GNM Painting 3 Enka GNM Painting 2

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