United Way

UNITY Engages Labor and Youth

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Director Elmer Hitt speaks at first UNITY gathering.

United Way and Labor have a long and powerful relationship with each other in making our communities better. Last month, United Way of Jackson County and several union locals launched a new initiative called UNITY—Union Network Initiative Together with Youth.

“The idea is to bring adults from Labor together with each other across unions to learn about different ways to engage in the community, with United Way and each other,” said Colleen Sullivan, Labor Liaison with UWJC. “We’re also connecting Labor and Youth while providing volunteer and educational opportunities.”

Sullivan added that students can gain valuable insight into a variety of careers by connecting with adult mentors through UNITY. “It is a chance to link youth with job paths they may not have considered through relationship building and community service,” she said.

UNITY held its first gathering on January 23, with students from Jackson Public Schools’ Jackson Pathways on hand. Jackson Police & Fire Director Elmer Hitt was the key presenter, covering different programs that allowed citizens to get involved with the Police Department—Citizen’s and Youth Academies, ride-alongs and the Cadet Program.

UNITY, which sprung from the United Community Assistance Network (UCAN), will meet over eight Thursdays, Sullivan said. The final gathering will include a celebration banquet at which students will talk about what they learned. Attendees will also take part in donating to a diaper drive to benefit local families.

Union locals taking part in UNITY include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2098 (County of Jackson); United Auto Workers Local 475 (Eaton Aerospace); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252; United Association Local 333; AFL-CIO; and United Auto Workers/National Writers Union Local 1981.

To find out more about UNITY, visit our Labor page.