Hamburger Helper for Hunger

Dewey Meyer
Dewey Meyer was the first farmer to donate a cow

Cull cows knows as “Hamburger Helper” in United Way of Ashland County’s Hunger Initiative.

In the past five years United Way of Ashland County has watched closely the dramatic increase of many new food pantries and mobile food distribution sites, and several churches have opened their doors to free meals each week or month throughout Ashland County.

With poverty levels reaching over 20% for youth up to 18 years of age and a countywide poverty level showing 13-16%, we realize food on the table is a genuine concern for Ashland County families. A very unique food resource has been made available through the efforts of Al Holdren, President of Town & Country Co-Op, working with area farmers to donate “cull cows” that are processed by Turk Brothers into hamburger and distributed to food pantries throughout Ashland County.

Dewey Meyer was the first farmer to donate a cow to make “Hamburger Helpers” a reality. In two years, and several donated cows later by Ashland County farmers, over 5,000 pounds of hamburger has been distributed through the Ashland County Food Bank.
This unique Hunger Initiative has been implemented by United Ways throughout Ohio since it began in Ashland in 2013.

If a cull cow is donated to the hunger project the area farmer would be responsible to make the arrangements with Turk Brothers for delivery of the animal. United Way of Ashland County will provide an in-kind gift letter for any donation to be used as a tax deductible contribution.

Plans are being finalized for the buyer of any steer or pig purchased at the Ashland County Fair to be able to donate their purchase as an additional resource for food to the Ashland County Hunger Initiative.

For more details on cull cow donations please contact United Way of Ashland County at 419-281-5551 or email Ev DeVaul, Executive Director, at
Photo Caption: Dewey Meyer donated first cull cow

If you want quotes please contact: Ev DeVaul 419-281-5551 or Rosemarie Donley, Ashland County Food Bank 419-281-6061

Women in Action

MISSION: By empowering the potential of women, to build focused, measurable and lasting change in Ashland County.

Women in Action LogoWINA! began in the spring of 2013, when we learned through our 2-1-1 referral system individual caller requests where the top 8 requests (approx. 8%) of people asked for financial assistance/budgeting, approx. 85 calls during 2013. It is a 9 month program beginning with a mini retreat focusing; on the whole women with concentration of finance/budgeting. This program is open to single women of all ages that hopefully have a job and lots of energy and ambition to move forward in life, and is tailored after Leadership Ashland. The target area would include those single women where they make too much money to qualify for assistance from other programs, but not enough to get them over the hurdle(s) that keep them from moving forward. The program does not exclude those in the 200% of poverty level. With graduation scheduled in the fall and the hopes to send one “shining star” to Leadership Ashland the following year. Participant must be an Ashland County resident.

Over 30 mentors have expressed interest in helping with the program in hopes to build long-term relationships with the participants. Each participant will be paired with a mentor and hopes a financial mentor to provide more one-on-one for finance.

There is a $50 participant fee with scholarships available ..• we have had great response from individuals who want to sponsor someone … more information will be given at time of entry. One of the first exercises will be for thee participant to budget the $50 that was given for them to participate, so they would in turn sponsor someone next year.

Goats include; financial stability with hands on training, to empower women who are serious and excited about excelling in life, to create a support system greater than what is currently available to each participant, and to educate the participant about
resources that are available in Ashland County and to help open doors to new opportunities.

Topics of discussion from Community Professionals include, but not limited to:
Budgeting and Financial Development (main concentration), Goal Setting, Insurance, Investing, Retirement, Important Papers and Personal Growth(Your Will), Wellness/Healthy Living, Spirituality, menu planning, smart shopping, Self Awareness, Stress Management and Self Esteem, Business, Life Skills.


Brenda McQuillen, United Way 419-281-5551
Rosemarie Donley, Associated Charities 419-281-0661
Catherine Swope, Ashland Parenting Plus 419-281-3788

Talk, Read & Play

School Readiness Initiative Great Success

FamilyIn Ashland County all newborns are going to be better prepared to go to Kindergarten with the “Talk, Read and Play… Together!” newborn bag. This is part of the early childhood school readiness initiative sponsored by United Way and the Family and Children First Council. This Community Impact Initiative was developed through a 2009 United Way needs assessment when the “top of the list” concern was that Ashland County children were not properly prepared to go to Kindergarten or Pre-Kindergarten from the KRA-L testing scores.

This county-wide need was statistically proven when 46% of five year olds preparing to go to Kindergarten in Ashland County were identified of needing “target instruction” and 17% needed “intensive instruction”. The US Department of Education has stated that the average kindergarten student has seen more than 5,000 hours of

Talk Read and Play book

television, having spent more time in front of a TV than it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Let’s go Ashland County… we need help educating our families on the importance of reading and preparing our young children for success in school. Become a volunteer to read and mentor kids in your school district. A quote from Frank A. Clark really says it all… “If you haven’t the time to help youngsters find the right way in life, somebody with more time will help them find the wrong way.” [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]No other United Way in the country has their own professionally published early childhood learning book – but we do in Ashland County![/pullquote]

Thanks to the professional talents of Dr. Diane Karther, Robin Donatini, Terri Jewett and Sarah Wurster. These four caring educators wrote On Our Way to Talk, Read, and Play for United Way. We certainly didn’t have to go far for a publisher because Bookmasters, a local community partner, has been a part of this innovative book since the concept began. Thanks to our Co-Authors and BookMasters for making this early childhood reading book a reality and helping Ashland County better…much better!

Ashland County Babies Receive “Newborn Kit”

Newborn KitNow in our sixth year of distribution any parent of a newborn in Ashland County that completes an application and survey receives a “Newborn Learning Kit.” The application and kits are available at 20 various partners throughout Ashland County with the most popular distribution center being the Birthing Unit at Samaritan Regional Health System. Dr. Cindy Moseman of the Family and Consumer Science Department at Ashland University compiles the survey data to help direct the reading needs of Ashland County.

Thanks to our many community partners that have been a part of this early childhood initiative! Parents of a newborn that have not received a kit can contact the United Way office at 419-281-5551.

Learn More @4

Getting Your Preschooler “School Ready”

A Family Toolkit For Preparing Preschoolers for School Success

Learn More @4 LogoWhy Start Early for School Readiness?

Children entering kindergarten now are expected to have more basic skills and knowledge to launch them to master reading, math, science, etc. in elementary school. Kindergarten requires children to function well in groups and control their behavior with peers and teachers. Recently Ohio has set specific learning standards that educators have to follow to assure all children have quality schooling. The Third Grade Guarantee aims to have every child reading by grade three to assure later school success. (Before third grade the focus is on learning to read and after third grade children read to learn. It is critical that children succeed in early elementary in order to handle the work older grades!)

What is school readiness? Ohio Early Learning and Development Standards include:

  • Physical well-being and motor development – use of small and large muscles, healthy habits such as good nutrition, daily physical activity and self-care
  • Social and emotional development – regulating attention, emotions and behavior and positive relationships with other children and adults
  •  Approaches to learning – focused attention, curiosity, persistence, problem-solving, enthusiasm, and setting. planning and achieving goals
  •  Language and literacy – communicating effectively with adults and peers, expressing self with language, and letter recognition, print concepts, language sounds, good vocabulary
  • Cognitive Skills and General knowledge – reasoning. problem-solving, memory, math, social studies, and science concepts

How do parents help their child?

School learning builds on natural life learning. From birth, children learn every minute of every day. They need positive relationships with adults and experiences to actively explore the natural and human world.


Learn More@ 4 Toolkit is designed to help!

It contains a BACKPACK with specifics on what children need to know and the skills needed for school learning. Your child will find several learning tools in the pack and a special book for him/her to document their learning. The toolkit can be used at home and anywhere your child goes. The backpack makes an easy container for child materials.

The backpack starts you out with the basics– tips and child activities for social/emotional skills, nutrition and physical activity. There are THREE more Child Learning Kits • Literacy, Math/Pretend Play and Science/Social Studies. All Learn Mare@ 4 activities relate to the Ohio Early Learning Standards. The individual Child Learning Kits can be picked up from locations in Ashland County listed in this guide.

This guide contains:

  • Lists of skills children need for kindergarten
    • Self-Control- The Super Skill of School Success
    • Activities to increase child self-control & attention
    • Teaching children about emotions
    • Using positive discipline for positive results
  • Active Play/Nutrition
    • Fussy Eater Tips
    • Get the Family Moving
    • Foods for preschoolers
  • Children’s Activity Ideas for Backpack Kit Materials:
    • Feeling Face Cards
    • “I Can Do” chart
    • Healthy Eating Child Activity Book
    • Vegetable Soup Activity
    • Dot to dot pictures
    • Game die for fast action math and literacy
  • Back cover- Extra resources, distribution locations for Child Learning Kits and project sponsors

You are probably already doing good learning activities to build your child’s brain and self-confidence. The materials and activities in Learn More @4 give some ideas··· But add your own creative ideas!


Early childhood experts suggest regular use of these will assure children’s school readiness:

TALK – Hearing and using words while playing and interacting with others helps children make sense of the world and builds connections in the brain to memory and higher order thinking. Language leads learning. Child conversations can include what they see on an outing, what others are doing, planning family activities, etc. Ask questions to prompt thinking (“why; what would happen if; how did that happen; what do you think?)

READ – The best way to build good child language/literacy is to read to children. Make reading interactive: ask your child to predict what will happen next; ask to retell the story and explain the pictures and story line. Use books to teach new words and learn about our fascinating world.

PLAY – Young children learn with their hands, senses and imagination. Helpful toys and objects engage children in: a. constructive play such as mega blocks, art/craft materials, play dough, b. make-believe/pretend play such as cooking sets, tool kits, dolls/ action figures -where they can speak and act out roles and scenes from the real world or a totally imaginary one.

We hope you and your child will have many happy times learning and growing together!

Helpful Links:

Ashland County Resources that can help you with parenting tools…

Click on the links below to open a printable PDF of each booklet.

Click here to go to the Family and Children First Council website.

Children’s Activities Pages
Click on the links below to open a printable pdf of each…

Financial Education


“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” John Wayne

We offer a Financial Wellness Program that fosters financial stability for individuals and families throughout Ashland County.   In collaboration with Directions Credit Union, we will bring free financial information to your workplace employees in a small group setting and provide lunch to those participating. (5 minimum and 20 maximum employees)  You set the time and place along with the topic(s) and employees. Topics include:

  • Living Within Your Means
  • The Magic of Credit
  • Identity Theft
  • And So Much More…

The program can be tailored to fit the request of the business.




Dolly Parton Library

Dolly Parton Imagination Library logoLearning to read is a process much like learning to walk or talk — the process begins at birth. United Way has provided a unique opportunity to do something simple and powerful for Ashland County by inspiring parents and care givers to read to their children and it has been an amazing success story!

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]37,903 “Dolly” Books Being Read to Children in Ashland County![/pullquote]

All children, age birth to five years old, residing in Ashland County are eligible to register for the Imagination Library. Once registered, a carefully-selected and age appropriate book arrives at the child’s mailbox every month.   Our goal is to reach 2,000 children in the next five years and give them one of the most important tools they need to succeed in school—the gift of books!

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”14″]1,275 CHILDREN IN ASHLAND COUNTY RECEIVE DOLLY PARTON IMAGINATION LIBRARY BOOKS.[/pullquote]

View/Download the Forms in PDF format


The cost to support one child each year in this beneficial reading program is $25.00. As part of the agreement with DPIL we can not charge anyone to register. Funding must come from corporate or individual sponsorship. As our registrations continue to increase each month we will continue to seek individual or corporate sponsorship support for “Dolly”. Please consider the “gift to read” for children of Ashland County and sponsor a child today! Call the United Way office at 419-281-5551 or visit our website for sponsorship details.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”14″]740 CHILDREN GRADUATED FROM THE DOLLY PARTON IMAGINATION LIBRARY PROGRAM.[/pullquote]

Kids-pic-with-signThank you to the following past and present investors to the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Ashland County; CSI Controls, CSI Water Treatment Systems, Donley Ford LINCOLN of Ashland, FirstEnergy Foundation, Huntington Bank, Kiwanis, Lake Erie Frozen Foods, Ohio Electric Control, Pentair, Packaging Corporation of America, PNC Foundation, Samaritan Regional Health System, Snyder’s-Lance, Inc., Step2 and Town & Country Co-Op.


Crunch Out Obesity

When the State of Ohio released the statistic that 44% of students in third grade in Ashland County were considered obese, United Way of Ashland County deemed this alarming fact unacceptable. Through the community partners of Ball, Bounce & Sport and the departments of Dietetics and Exercise Science at Ashland University, we developed the “Crunch Out Obesity” Impact model. The pro-gram, now in the fifth year, touches approximately 1,500 students in grades 4, 5 and 6 with initiatives on proper exercise and balancing good nutritional habits for a healthy life style. Each participant must complete a six week journal keeping track of exercise and eating habits. To be eligible for county wide recognition the students must complete an essay titled “I am living healthy.” Our special thanks to our physical education teachers for coordinating this meaningful project. Several United Ways across the country have adapted the “Crunch Out” model for their communities…a proven effort of finding local solutions to local community challenges!