February is Have-a-Heart Month for CSEA. With the recent tragic fires affecting our communities and the surrounding counties, I would like to highlight just how much CSEA was able to assist those affected with financial and emotional support by our local members having a heart! Our local chapter, Ukiah Valley 194, awarded local members affected by the fires with $250 for displacement and $500 for a total loss of property.
CSEA statewide has set up programs to assist our members affected by disasters. The Dorothy Bjork Assistance Fund is one of these programs and is disbursed in two ways: The Emergency Assistance Program and the Humanitarian Assistance Program. This past year, CSEA gave more than $275,000 in emergency assistance to members affected by natural disasters such as the fires in Butte, Shasta, Trinity, Orange, Riverside, Lake, Mendocino, and Mariposa counties. CSEA also awarded more than $30,000 in humanitarian assistance to members who endured financial hardships due to adverse health, work, or other unexpected life circumstances.
One of the most important things we can model for our students is kindness, and the CSEA Dorothy Bjork Assistance Fund does just that. Acts of kindness, no matter when or why they happen, are a great way to teach our children that kindness is crucial in life. Why is kindness so important to not only us but our students? Kindness increases serotonin, which plays an important part in learning, memory, mood, sleep, health, and digestion. Kindness is a key ingredient that helps children feel good. Having a positive outlook allows them to have longer attention spans and enables more creative thinking which produces better results at school.
I would like to recognize all of our classified staff here at Ukiah Unified School District for their hard work and dedication always ensuring our students are learning in a safe and healthy environment. Ukiah Unified School District has the best classified employees anywhere! Our members really care about the students and what their positions can do to support learning. The classified unit consists of Secretarial, Technology, Custodial, Maintenance, Transportation, Food Service, Paraeducators, Grounds, Community Liaisons, Payroll Specialists, Student Information Specialists, Library, Delivery, and our Crossing Guards. If you see any of these extraordinary people be sure to thank them for their continued service to our students and our community.
Not only during Have-a-Heart Month but any time you get the chance, I urge everyone to write a note, send an email, or give just a simple verbal thank you recognizing classified staff. A random act of kindness like this goes a long way knowing someone actually recognizes our hard work and dedication. When we are at a school site doing our jobs, and students hear another adult stop to thank someone, this is a great example of how to interact with others. As they grow into productive members of our society, they will also show this kind of gratitude.
I would also like to touch on the great work being done by our administration. Deb Kubin came to Ukiah Unified School District seven years ago and for some that have been here a lot longer than this can testify to just how much we have improved as a District under her direction and vision for our students. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and this rings true for our District also. Nicole Glentzer, Penny Lauseng and Katie Sommer all work tirelessly to ensure the best for our students. Even after the tragedies of the fires causing families to move out of the state or just not to rebuild in our county, our cumulative enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year increased by 12 students. Our attendance percentage has also increased over the past 4 years and is now at 93.49%!
In closing, I would also like to thank all of the teachers and certificated staff for their hard work ensuring the very best for our students. I am blessed to be a part of this team and I am also proud that my son attends school with us.