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Volunteer Spotlight: Johnna Breland and Family

By: Johnna Breland

     A couple of years ago, I was invited to join a “Get on the Bus” tour, and I soon realized that several United Way agencies have been a part of my life for many years. When I was a middle schooler, my Mother (Marian Harris,) worked with senior adults; and part of her job was to make sure that her clients received needed services; and one of those services was Meals on Wheels. I remember her saying that those meals, and especially the companionship of the volunteers, was the highlight of those senior adults’ day.

     My father (Rayburn Harris,) has volunteered as a sitter with Hospice of the Valley for over 17 years. He enjoys meeting all the families and hearing some amazing stories. He has heard about folks that lived through WWII, others that experienced segregation firsthand and individuals that worked with NASA astronauts. He says that it is a privilege to help these families during a difficult time.

     My husband (Rodney Breland) and I have been fostering and adopting children for over 31 years. We quickly learned about an organization called F.A.C.E.S., that helped children and families involved in the DHR system. When a child has a monetary need that DHR cannot meet, F.A.C.E.S. steps up to the plate. This could be a prom dress, piano lessons, band fees, t-ball registration, etc., the monies are provided for that child. When a child enters the system, often with little or no belongings, F.A.C.E.S. gives a voucher to the foster family to buy necessities. This could be diapers, infant formula, pajamas, toothbrushes, or anything a child needs the first few days in care. F.A.C.E.S. also provides Christmas gifts for children involved with DHR. Foster families are honored every year with a banquet, door prizes and entertainment and most importantly, words of affirmation, encouragement and gratitude from the F.A.C.E.S. board of directors. This is the only program of its kind in the state.

    As I mentioned, my husband and I foster and adopt. We specialize in children classified as medically fragile. Our children have a multitude of differing abilities, and because of this I became involved in an organization known as The Arc of Morgan County. This organization advocates and provides services for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The Arc has programs for school aftercare, interim care (when school is out for Christmas break, Thanksgiving break, spring break, etc.) and summer programs. The Arc’s programs are for individuals three to twenty-one. They also have Fun Clubs one Saturday a month so that parents/caregivers have several hours of respite. Throughout the year the Arc has community activities such as Fall Festivals and Chocolate Festivals that are open to all individuals regardless of age or ability. The Arc also helps with referrals/information about services that are requested by families, and they will advocate with and for families and individuals in different settings.

     As you may have guessed, all these agencies are United Way agencies. Until I became more involved with these different programs and participated in the “Get on the Bus” tour, I didn’t know the extent or the far- reaching effects of The United Way. Whether you can give financial support or volunteer support or both, The United Way of Morgan County makes a difference in many, many lives.

United Way, along with our 30 partners, fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person right here in Morgan County.

 When you support United Way of Morgan County through your workplace campaign or through a corporate or individual gift, you are helping the most vulnerable among us…the young, the old, the sick, and the poor as well as those affected by both man-made and natural disasters.  Those people are your neighbors, your co-workers, your family members, and your friends.  

United, we can win the fight!  Won’t you join us?! www.uwmcal.org

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