McConnaughay spotlights every day hero, Melinda Kintz, Executive Director of Batavia United Way
This week, Senator McConnaughay spotlights every day hero, Melinda Kintz, Executive Director of Batavia United Way, Co-Founder of CHIP IN and community service leader in Batavia.
Kintz has been Executive Director since October of 2014. She is responsible for the not-for-profit’s day-to-day operations, ensuring it maintains compliance with United Way Worldwide. She handles the administrative functions and helps coordinate fundraising campaigns for 17 area not-for-profits. The mission of Batavia United Way is to raise funds for programs that serve Batavians and foster those organizations’ growth.
As an advocate for academic assistance for low-income households, Kintz has used her leadership in both Batavia United Way and CHIP IN to fund common school-related expenses, as well as unique costs impacting a student’s education.
Working with Batavia United Way following the recommendation of two kindergarten teachers, she created the city’s first “Success by 6” program, a scholarship opportunity for children of low-income or disadvantaged families to attend full-day kindergarten, as Batavia Public Schools currently only covers half-day kindergarten. Batavia United Way decided to team up with the school district and local park district to implement the program. The school district and park district use existing information to identify eligible families and compile their information to allow for an easy application process. The school district and park district are responsible for administering half of the school day, and Batavia United Way raises the funds for the scholarships.
“So far, 29 children in the community have taken advantage of the scholarship, and we recently added a couple preschoolers to the program too,” said Kintz. “Our goal is to get these children enrolled young to give their families some peace of mind and set their children up for success early on.”
As Co-Founder of CHIP IN, she set her focus on helping the 80-plus homeless students who reside in Batavia better their school day by addressing miscellaneous needs as they arise. CHIP IN assigned a liaison for each school to address these students’ unique needs whenever possible. CHIP IN then raises funds to ease the children’s financial burden or help with costs that are not covered by other organizations.
“Working with both organizations has worked out amazingly. There are so many unique costs that families struggle with,” said Kintz. “I’ve seen a student miss class because he couldn’t afford a gym suit and a college freshman on scholarship whose car broke down and couldn’t make it to the community college. For these types of costs that Batavia United Way can’t cover, CHIP IN is often able to.”
Additionally, Kintz has taken on an active role in the Batavia United Way’s “Adopt-a-Family” program, which gathers members of the community to sponsor families in need who are struggling during the holiday season. The school districts identify the eligible families and ask them to create their Christmas wishlist. Kintz and Batavia United Way then collect their wishlists and go out into the community to find sponsors who anonymously fulfill some or all of a family’s wishlist. While the program has existed for eight years, Kintz made it her mission to spread awareness. Since she started, she has helped to triple the number of families the community can sponsor, from 30 to 98 this past year.
Her volunteer work is equally as inspired—and has great personal significance. She has volunteered at the Make-A-Wish Foundation for seven years. She herself is an alumni of the program and wants to offer the same kind support her family received. Her son passed away of Osteosarcoma when he was 14, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation made every attempt to grant his ultimate wish of meeting Steve Carell and visiting the set of “The Office.” She now dedicates time to assisting prospective families with the set-up process, helps the child decide on his/her wish, and keeps the family engaged in the 6 to 12 months leading up to their special wish day.
“It can take many months to fulfill a child’s wish, depending on the complexity. I know how important it is to let them know we’re thinking of them, before, during and after their wish,” said Kintz. “April 23 is World Wish Day, and this year, we’re uniting all current Make-A-Wish families and alumni for a day of fun, games and valuable memories.”
She also pays it forward by volunteering at the LivingWell cancer resource center, where cancer patients and their caregivers can go for services that aren’t covered by insurance. The center is fully self-sufficient and is funded by annual events, including the Winter Gala, for which Kintz volunteers her time and planning services every year.
“Melinda goes above and beyond for the city of Batavia, especially when it comes to our children’s futures,” said Senator McConnaughay. “She has such a kind heart and has touched the lives of so many families. We’re very lucky to have her as an advocate and leader in our community.”
Senator McConnaughay is honored to recognize Melinda Kintz for her dedication, charity and countless hours serving the community. If you would like more information about the Batavia United Way, please visit http://www.bataviaunitedway.org/, or CHIP IN Batavia, visit http://www.chipinbatavia.org/.