Reading with Black Santa | Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation

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Reading with Black Santa | Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation

First, in case you don’t know, let’s learn about Mary Walker. Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation has been in operation since its founding in 1970. It was named for Mary Walker, a tenant of what is now Mary Walker Towers in South Chattanooga, the foundation was created in her honor. Mary learned to read at age 117. She lived to be 121. Wow.

On December 15th Black Santa was available for pictures, and thanks to our $500 grant, gave away books, light refreshments and a few giveaways for children at Olivet Nation on Jersey Pike. Thanks to partnerships with Olivet Baptist, The Chattanooga News Chronicle, and The Chattanooga Courier the event was well attended and will grow each year. This was Black Santa, but he is a Santa like all Santa's for all children, regardless of race.

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Rebuilding a Band | Tyner High School

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Rebuilding a Band | Tyner High School

Roy Collins is the new band director at Tyner Academy. He has a problem. He recruited more students to join band than he has instruments. There are as many as 5 students playing the same instruments and students rotating mouthpieces during class. So, we gave him $1,500 to buy 3 trumpets, 3 clarinets, 2 alto saxophones and a baritone. He still needs more! Are you a band geek at heart and want to do something? You can! Make a donation to Tyner Academy and earmark the funds for Roy Collins, Band.

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Cafe Donaldson | Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy

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Cafe Donaldson | Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy

Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy (CDESA) has a new principal, Rose Odom. She has an idea to end food fights, intentional spilling, eating with hands (when a utensil would be appropriate), talking over each other, inappropriate line behavior, and inappropriate table manners in the cafeteria. Cafe Donaldson will create a restaurant dining atmosphere with our $1,500 grant for tabes and chairs, that the students have a chance to earn the opportunity to eat in. This will be special for them, they will have music and sometimes special guests.

Students are so eager to please when they are given a clear set of guidelines and expectations. Instead of shaming them and always using discipline, Rose wants to create something that they can work towards with clear expectations, so that they are learning and having positive behavior change at the same time. Why this? It may be a hard stretch of the imagination if you were raised in a household where table manners were taught, food was plenty, and your family sat down together to share meals. For many of these students, they do not share this same upbringing, for what ever reason, maybe their parents are working during the evening hours and they are being watched by an older sibling, or maybe food is scarce at their house and they learn to hide and stash food for themselves. This idea can help. We can help.

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Soil Resources | NEEMA Community Garden

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Soil Resources | NEEMA Community Garden

We have a saint among us. Her name is Charlene Nash. Read about her work helping farmers in Africa here. After a recent trip to Madagascar, Charlene will be assisting Father Peter Kanyi build out the community garden of NEEMA, the Kiswahili name for grace. NEEMA promotes self-sufficiency for refugee and immigrant individuals and families by providing advocacy, support and education in the Chattanooga area. The community garden on Main St is in need of building materials to make it more productive and a more comfortable gathering place, while still remaining mobile if it needed to move, for the immigrant farmers growing foods familiar to them in their home country.

This $3,000 grant benefits all refugees who garden at NEEMA as well as those in the neighborhood with beds of their own. With all the services NEEMA provides (culture counseling, housing, medical care, pastoral care, transportation, translation, ESL classes, etc), the garden just adds another human, friendly dimension to an already confusing transition for many refugees/immigrants. Growing familiar foods as well as the non judgmental, social interaction in a garden cannot be reproduced anywhere else. Making sure these people who are new to our area can make a successful transition and become contributing members of the community will benefit Chattanooga as a whole.

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Ivy Academy | New Library

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Ivy Academy | New Library

Ivy Academy continues to expand their programs, and this year they have taken a massive step to add a high school!  This month we heard from a 14 year old student and future Eagle Scout of Ivy Academy who upon viewing the blueprints for the school noticed a room connected to the offices that was labeled “Library”.  When he asked about it, he learned that with the costs of the new building, no money was left in the budget to actually equip the library. This student is taking matters into his own hands, and for his Eagle Scout Project is organizing a book drive to fill the new library with over 1,000 donated books.  They will need a new computer and scanner to manage the check out process, and that’s where we are excited to step in.


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YMCA | Bi-lingual Books

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YMCA | Bi-lingual Books

This month, we are also proud to support the the Early Learning Readiness program for the J.A. Henry YMCA. This is a FREE nation-wide YMCA program designed for children birth to 5 years old. They use a curriculum of 13 interest centers that children experience 2 days a week with their caregiver (babysitter, grandma, parent). Our preschool program focuses on developmental milestones and Kindergarten-readiness skills. We have 1 class that meets in East Lake and another that meets in East Ridge; last year we had a total of 66 program participants and 62% of those children & parents are primarily Spanish-speaking families. However they have very few that are sturdy board books and only 11 are bi-lingual. We offer books for families to borrow between classes, and the books in Spanish are always the first selected. Our UNFoundation grant will triple the number of bi-lingual books available to families so that they have the opportunity to read bedtime stories to their children in their own language, while also practicing English.

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GreenSpaces | Green Prix

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GreenSpaces | Green Prix

Ladies and gentlemen, start your (quiet, efficiently built electric) engines!

The UNFoundation is proud to partner with GreenSpaces to support Green Prix, a successful collaboration with eight local schools that began in 2017 and had teams of students building and racing electric karts.  The emphasis was on developing STEM skills and on the participants learning team building, electrical and wiring, alignment, and aerodynamics. Students at each school received a base Greenpower USA kit car with a chassis, wheels, motor and batteries with instructions to assemble the kits and then create a shell of the car using as many recycled materials as possible. We are excited that they are expanding to connect with 20 schools in the 2018-2019 school year and impacting more students in Hamilton County! Click here to watch the youtube video.


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Facility Dog | Children's Advocacy Center

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Facility Dog | Children's Advocacy Center

The Children's Advocacy Center of Hamilton County (CAC) has a mission to serve those affected by alleged child sexual abuse. [These people have truly noble jobs] The CAC provides intervention, therapeutic, and prevention services to victims of abuse. All services are offered at no charge to clients. Soon they will brighten those services with a trained facility dog from the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence. #woof

Trained dogs can be utilized in counseling in two main ways. First, by simply being present within the therapy room, but not the main focus. In this method, the dog helps calm the child just by being there. The second way that dogs can be utilized in the counseling environment is to make the dog a part of the therapy itself. An apprehensive child could pet the dog while talking about highly emotional issues.

It may be hard to believe, but the CAC served almost 600 children last year. It takes a community working together to move the needle and create real change. This facility dog will do just that.

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