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Stories

Thursday, December 8, 2016
Read the inspiring story of Alana and her family:   My husband and I met when we were 16 years old. We chose to enlist in the Army when we turned 18. I served for 8 years as military police and he as an armored crewman for 3 ½ years. We have two children, a 10 year old boy and an 8 year old girl.   After discharge, we returned home to Las Vegas but found ourselves struggling. Most of our family had moved out of state and the quality of education was poor. Since my mother lives on Long Island, in September of 2014 we decided to move to New York in hopes of a better education for our kids and... Read more
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Before the first United Way ALICE report, ALICE was a population and a community issue without a name or face. The release of this study offered a new way to accurately quantify these households and to talk about the challenges that they face, just like Richelle of Long Island.  Richelle, a wife and mother of three was struggling to pay her bills on time and keep the house warm during the frigid winter months. She and her husband had both fallen on hard times, severely impacting their income and ability to keep up with household expenses. Despite Richelle and her husband both working full-... Read more
Thursday, October 20, 2016
  My name is Nia and my life matters. I am the only child of a teenage mother who was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. During my childhood I felt depressed, worthless, misunderstood and ashamed; I had thoughts of suicide. I thought that suicide would bring me peace and that my absence would take the burden off my family.  I didn't have many friends going up because my mother separated me from my peers. I saw my mother being mistreated because of her condition and constantly worried about a future for my mother and me. I knew what my dad looked like, however he was never a... Read more
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
October 2-8 is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Week. Below is an example of the many Long Islanders our partner agencies in the mental health field are making an impact on every day.  "NG" is a 15-year-old boy referred to United Way of Long Island partner agency Youth and Family Counseling Agency of Oyster Bay (YFCA) by his school social worker at the age of 11. He had been acting out in school, had very few, if any, friends, and was frequently the subject of ridicule by his peers. He reportered that he felt bullied by other children. Upon admission, he exhibited signs and symptoms of... Read more
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
  Steve, 18 years old“I grew up in a normal family. I really can’t blame circumstances or hardship or mistreatment for my actions and my situation. I wanted to be somebody. I saw that people who cheated and stole got things I wanted. The music I listen to promotes all that. So I did it. My dad is a pastor at a church, the church I grew up in. I robbed a store with another guy, and got caught. I shamed my family. Now that I’m at the Ranch, I’m proud to say that I am changing. I’m doing well here and regret what I did to get here. When I leave I will succeed and make my dad proud again. I’m... Read more
Monday, September 12, 2016
  Gianna Cannavo, DREAMS for Youth Scholarship recipient from Franklin Square is the ideal role model to students across Long Island. Not only is she ambitious and successful in school, but she excels in activities outside of school - including recently being namd third runner up in the America's Homecoming Queen competition after being crowned 2016 New York State Homecoming Queen. The rigorous competition focused on leadership and altruism, and "paying it forward". Below is Gianna's account of this learning experience and her plans for her future: Grateful, excited, and determined are three... Read more
Friday, August 12, 2016
Some might say she had an ideal life; with a Bachelor’s in Psychology from C.W. Post and a full-time position as a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) in the Plainedge School District’s Special Education Program - Janice was off to a fantastic start. When Janice’s grandmother died, however, Janice noticed a decline in her mental health. After being terminated from her TA job, a tale too upsetting for her to recount due to the connection she felt towards the children she mentored, Janice began to ricochet from in-patient stay to residential program.   Janice, who was subsequently diagnosed with... Read more
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Michael Strenta, a United Way of Long Island DREAMS for Youth Scholarship recipient, had been dealt a difficult hand as a child. Diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes at a young age, he has learned to not only deal with this but to use it as a motivation to strive for greatness. We are very proud of Michael, as he begins his studies as a freshman at the University of Arizona where he will be double majoring in biomedical engineering and music. Here is Michael's story: Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever."  These are the words that I... Read more
Monday, August 8, 2016
  Anthony Royster is on top of the world – literally as an iron worker stationed on the Verrazano Bridge, and figuratively with a happy and loving family at home – but it wasn’t always this way. Anthony grew up in a single-parent home in Wyandanch, with an older sister and two younger brothers where physical and mental abuse was commonplace. Without positive role models in his life, he searched for an escape, but was led down the wrong path where he was later arrested and incarcerated. Upon his release, Anthony realized he needed to turn his life around. He had heard about United Way of Long... Read more
Thursday, August 4, 2016
After studying abroad in Florence, United Way of Long Island DREAMS for Youth Scholarship recipient Marie St-Cyr shares her thoughts on the experience, made possible by an enrichment scholarship.  What is the educational experience abroad like? How does it compare to that at home? The educational experience abroad is very different from the one back at my home college. At the Lorenzo De Medici the teachers help us learn about the way we approach art instead of just creating it. The process behind the artwork is more important than the technicality. I feel that I have definitely grown a lot... Read more

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