920.563.8880 [email protected]

Has a child ever looked you in the eyes and told you that they can’t participate in an activity they love because they can’t afford it? It’s a heartbreaking moment that I experienced multiple times throughout my tenure as coach of the Fort Atkinson High School Poms Squad.

When you see the passion and dedication of these athletes, you want to do whatever you can to help them be successful and realize their full potential. High school is a hard time for anyone, and when you find your group of people or your passion, it is imperative that you have the tools to continue on a trajectory that supports you for who you are.

As parents know, sports and extracurricular activities come with a cost. Costs that some families can afford, and some cannot. With my previous background in financial literacy, I tried my best to make costs for poms as low as possible. Even so, I had families that could not afford the $200 (or so) cost of poms, shoes, shorts, turtlenecks, dance tops, warm-ups, etc. Multiple times I was approached by athletes who couldn’t make eye contact with me, tell me that they have to drop out because they could not afford it. I refused to let them leave the team and promised that we would figure something out. That’s when I learned about the Fort Family Connections program through the partnership of the School District of Fort Atkinson and the United Way. My athletes were able to apply and get the funding they needed to support their passion. I am truly grateful for the kind people who donated to the United Way to make this program possible.

This example was the start of my ‘why’ for joining the United Way workplace campaign team at the School District of Fort Atkinson, and later, becoming a Board Member. The more I learned about the programming and services that the United Way provides for the people in our local communities, the more I wanted to do.

Workplace campaigns are SO important for our local United Way. Every dollar donated stays here locally, positively affecting local people, and local businesses. It truly brings kindness, generosity, and hope for the future, full circle. The pillars of the United Way’s work (health, education, financial stability, and equity) speak to how to truly teach, learn, and support one another to improve lives, causing a ripple effect of positive change.

Thank you to the businesses who run workplace campaigns – you truly play a large role in affecting positive change. To the businesses who are considering running a workplace campaign, please reach out with questions. There are so many people who are willing to help make it a success. As we say here at the School District of Fort Atkinson, we are one team, one district, and one community. We each play a piece in a larger puzzle. Same for the United Way, when you participate in the workplace campaign, you become a part of something much larger.

Marissa Weidenfeller
Communications & Community Engagement Specialist, School District of Fort Atkinson
United Way Board Member