“You turned my life around,” said Debbie Williams, a young mom who said she’d “battled for her life” fighting stage three cancer. Williams was the keynote speaker at Friday’s Oct. 28 United Way campaign finale at the Duke Energy Convention Center, which raised $62.1 million. Williams thanked the crowd of 650 for supporting the Northern Kentucky Scholar House where she lives with her two-year-old daughter while she attends Cincinnati State Community and Technical College.
“I was working two jobs and never saw my baby,” said Williams. “I am greatly appreciative.” The Scholar House provides low cost housing, on-site child care and support programs for full time parent students.
Helping young moms succeed was a theme of not only the United Way campaign finale on Friday, but also the Child Poverty Summit on Saturday, underscoring that Williams’ story of the working impoverished is not unusual.
Of the 33,069 Cincinnati children living in poverty, 67 percent live in a home headed by working single mothers. Nearly 40 percent of Cincinnati’s children live in poverty — Cincinnati has the sixth highest rate of childhood poverty in the nation (in households with incomes of $19, 073 or less).
“You turned a whole family’s life around,” Williams concluded, noting that the low-cost housing for student parents with support programs for parenting and academic coaching had made all the difference in her educational success.
Cheryl Rose, senior vice president of Hawthorn Family Wealth, underscored the need for quality child care for all as she presented the award for leadership in education to Randy Dunham. “Twenty years ago I was a desperate, young, single mom trying to find quality preschool for my child,” she said. “Issue 44 is a moral imperative that pays off,” she urged, championing the property tax levy to fund greater access to preschool.
Dunham, a retired district manager for Northwest airlines who worked to ensure all children succeed in achieving academic excellence. He raised more than $50,000 to support scholarships and academic success programs Rose explained to the crowd of 650 at the Duke Convention Center.
Campaign chair Ted Torbeck, CEO of Cincinnati Bell, announced that giving was up this year by over $1 million at Cincinnati Bell, which pledged $1.8 million, while Procter & Gamble held onto its top spot at $10 million pledged.