Have a HEART for a Child:

On Sunday, February 18, the Arborlawn United Methodist Women are launching their new annual fundraising campaign: Have a HEART for a Child: Help Encourage A Reader for Tomorrow. To learn about this initiative, benefiting United Community Centers, check out the FAQ, below.


Why is the Arborlawn UMW undertaking this campaign?

The Arborlawn UMC United Methodist Women has historically contributed to a variety of local mission agencies, but we have particularly focused our efforts on raising a significant amount of money to support the work of the three Methodist United Community Centers (UCC) – Bethlehem, Polytechnic, and Wesley—in Fort Worth. For ten years, our chief fundraiser was the Styles & Smiles show, which had grown over the years to be a very successful event. This new campaign is intended to replace Styles & Smiles as our single annual congregation-wide fundraiser. In some years we may add a second fundraiser, such as the excellent quilt show we had in the fall of 2017. But our hope is that we can grow this fundraiser to be our primary annual event.

How will the money raised by the campaign support UCC?

United Community Centers provides a number of services to the people in each center’s community (see unitedcommunitycenters.org for additional information). By far the largest program offered is the after-school childcare program. UCC does not just provide a safe place for children until their parents can pick them up at the end of the work day, however. In addition to a snack, a hot supper, and recreation, a portion of each day is spent working with the children on improving their reading skills.

During the summer, United Community Centers offers full-day (7:00 AM – 6:00 PM) childcare for 10 weeks, which they refer to as “summer camp.” During the day, the children continue emphasis on reading and other academic skills in order to prevent the very common problem of “summer slide,” which occurs when children start the new school year academically behind where they were at the end of the previous school year. In addition to literacy activities, the children are offered field trips chosen to coordinate with the literacy activities, recreation, and two snacks and three hot meals every day.

How many children participate in the summer camp program, and what are their ages?

Each center provides the summer program to over 100 children. There are 80+ children in the full day Education Literacy Program (ELP). They are divided into four groups: Pre-K – K; 1st – 2nd; 3rd – 4th; and 5th – 7th. In addition, there are 20+ children in the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) program; these are 1st and 2nd graders identified by the FWISD as being 2-3 reading levels behind their peers. The LLI students spend a half day every day in intensive literacy instruction; the other half of the day they participate in activities with the ELP campers.

Does the literacy program provided at summer camp really make a difference?

UCC has compiled data to measure the effectiveness of the program. The results for 2017 showed that at the end of the summer, 72% of students were reading at least on grade level, and 50% were reading above grade level. For the first time, more UCC students increased their reading level than those who simply maintained it. FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner visited this past December to gain an understanding of the success of the unique programs offered by UCC in the afternoons and in the summer.

How much does it cost to send a child to summer camp at United Community Centers? Do the parents pay any portion of the cost?

UCC tags the cost of a full campership at $1,600. (If you want to do the math, this amounts to: $160 per week; $32 per day; $2.91 per hour.) 

The cost is actually higher than $1600; this estimate only includes those costs that are specific to the materials and activities of the camp program, and does not include any of the general costs of operating and maintaining the facilities. Furthermore, the parents do pay a fee for their children to participate. The fee varies according to circumstances, but in general parents pay $40 per week for the first child, $25 for the second child, with a slight discount for additional children. Each center also has several parents who pay nothing at all but who offer services in kind, such as helping with serving food, cleaning classrooms on the weekend, etc.

What are the costs specific to the UCC summer camp program?

UCC staffs each center’s ELP camp with 4 full-time non-certified teachers, 1 full-time teachers’ aide who assists the four teachers, and 1 full-time maintenance assistant/driver. Other costs include rental of the literacy curriculum, teachers’ supplies, arts and crafts supplies, three hot meals and two snacks every day, admission fees for educational field trips, and incentives offered to parents and children to encourage good attendance (e.g., gift cards to WalMart, movie passes, and similar). Other costs, such as the cost of transportation to field trips, are absorbed into the general operating budget of the centers.

The LLI program is supported by separate grants which pay for its staffing and curriculum materials. However, the funds raised for the overall summer camp program also go toward LLI students’ meals and other expenses as they join the ELP campers’ activities.

Are other churches contributing to this program? In what other ways are funds raised?

UCC receives grants from 4 or 5 foundations. They also receive funds from the Conference. Other fund-raising events include a golf tournament in the spring, the Full Plate banquet in the fall, the North Texas Day of Giving, and a holiday appeal. In the past, UCC also received support from the United Way; however, in 2017 the United Way cut their contribution to UCC by 80%, so that now UCC receives only $12,000 annually divided among the three centers. It is important to note that all of the above activities are used to fund the general operating costs of UCC, not for the summer camp program specifically.

Board members of UCC work annually to raise funds for the camper program by appealing to their friends and associates. Arborlawn, through the UMW, is the first church to mount a fundraiser for the camperships, and we are very glad to be in that position! We hope to become an example for other churches so that eventually UCC can fully fund the camp program without having to subsidize any portion from the general operating budget.

How can Arborlawn members contribute? What is the goal?

You can contribute in two ways. The first is to simply contribute an amount of your choosing. At the end of this FAQ, you will be given a breakdown of how your contribution might be used to meet the specific needs of the camper program. You will also be given information about how you can make your contribution.

The second way you might want to contribute is to donate a full campership. This would be an ideal way for a family, a small group, a Sunday school class, a church committee or organization, or perhaps your business to participate. Groups that donate $1600 for a full campership will also be able to learn the name of the child who has received that assistance and can, if they choose, communicate with the child to offer words of encouragement. In addition, parents of a fully-supported camper will receive a certificate that identifies the donor group so they may communicate their appreciation to you directly. This method allows you a more personal connection with the young person whose life you will be directly affecting.

United Community Centers has set a goal to raise $100,000 this year from the community to support the camper program. Our goal is to help them meet their goal.

Are there other ways besides financial contributions that individuals could offer help for the camper program?

Frances Martinez, Director of Programs for UCC, has suggested the following volunteer opportunities, with shifts arranged to fit your schedule:

  • Teacher aides to help in the learning centers, in small group centers, in the teachers’ preparation for the day;
  • Chaperones for field trips off-campus or in gym time, outside time, game time;
  • Front desk help in answering phones, greeting children and families, or showing guests to the childcare areas;
  • Kitchen help in serving meals and snacks.

In addition, UCC is always interested in involving people who have areas of expertise that they might want to share with the children. These could be arranged by discussing your ideas with Frances Martinez.

We hope you will prayerfully consider what you might be able and willing to do to support the “Have a HEART for a Child” campaign. You may have children who have experienced the benefits of summer enrichment activities as they have grown up. The families of the children at the Bethlehem, Polytechnic, and Wesley centers generally do not have resources to provide such opportunities for their children. Your investment in the lives of these children has the potential to offer them a brighter future!

How Your Dollars Can Help

$1,000 | Arts/Crafts/Teachers’ supplies for the summer

$ 500 | Salary for 1 full-time teacher per week

$ 300 | Salary for 1 full-time teachers’ aide per week

$ 200 | Salary for one full-time maintenance assistant/driver per week

$ 100 | 3 meals and 2 snacks each day for one child for one week

$ 50 | 25 gallons of milk for one center for one week

$ 25 | Entrance to educational field trips for one child for the summer

$ 15 | Literacy curriculum for one child for one week

$ 10 | Incentives for attendance for 2 children for one week

How can I make my contribution to the Have a HEART campaign?

1.     Write a check to Arborlawn UMC with “UCC: Have a HEART” written in the memo. You may drop it by the church office, or you may bring it to one of the tables that will be set up in both the Upper and Lower Commons on the three Sundays of the campaign (Feb. 18, Feb. 25, Mar. 4), or you may mail it to: Arborlawn UMC, 5001 Briarhaven Rd., Fort Worth, TX, 76109.

2.     Pay by credit card – Online: Click here. You will be taken to another site where you will need to give to the Designated Fund with “UCC: Have a HEART” typed in the memo line. (**NOTE: If you are an Arborlawn member or guest and are not on Arborlawn Connect, it may require a logon and password. Please contact Sherry Roth (sherry@arborlawnumc.org) and she will help you get connected.)

3.     Pay by credit card – Text ARBORLAWNHAVEAHEART to 73256. (The same note RE online giving above may apply.)

4.     Pay by credit card using the form on the UCC brochure (check your mailbox or the display tables in the Lower and Upper Commons on Sunday mornings). If you use this method, we request that you bring the completed form to the church office or to the tables in the Commons areas (see #1 above). (Please note that this method does not keep your giving record in one place.)