Interim Days at the Utah State Capitol

Emiliaby Emilia Comai
Community and Advocacy Engagement Coordinator

The Utah State Legislature works furiously in a jam packed 45-day legislative session from January to March. What happens when the flurry of debate ends? Do our representatives just go back to their day jobs? Does the Capitol building close until the next session?

IMG_2931Actually, the Capitol doors stay open and legislators regularly meet once per month on “Interim Days.” On these designated days, interim committees, comprised of selected legislators, discuss certain issues before the start of the next session. Committees are formed based on legislative topics such as education, business and labor, health and human services, and transportation; the members frequently hear from government commissions related to each topic.

The meetings are open to the public. The first Interim this year was held on Wednesday, May 21. Legislators returned to the Hill to wrap up business after the last legislative session and debrief about how their goals set from the previous year fared.

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Why are these meetings important? What can a constituent gain from knowing what goes on during interim? It is crucial that members of the public, nonprofits, and other organizations are aware of the issues discussed in these meetings. This is the time when key decisions are made and plans are set in motion for legislation that will be discussed during the next session. Constituents have the opportunity to weigh in on these decisions and help shape the conversation.

_MG_9677Interested in attending or learning more about Interim Days? Contact Emilia Comai, at Community and Advocacy Engagement Coordinator to see how you can get involved!

If you are unable to be there in person at Capitol Hill, the meetings are free and available live, click here to access:

You can help influence important decisions that affect at-risk children and families in our community. Speak up. Learn more at


24 Hour Fitness: Creating Healthy Behaviors!

DSC_0030LRGby Zenia Frendt
Resource Development Executive

United Way of Salt Lake believes that creating healthy behaviors and attitudes can lead to a healthier life overall, and this week 24 Hour Fitness affirmed that they share this belief.  Thanks to Wellness Manager and Corporate Trainer Melissa Cox, 24 Hour Fitness is taking a greater interest than ever in our community.

picture 1Although 24 Hour Fitness is new to working with UWSL, they have certainly jumped in with both feet.  In our overall objectives of education, income and health, 24 Hour Fitness has decided to focus their energies on the “health” aspect of our pipeline, aligning their own values with those of United Way.

This week, 24 Hour Fitness came out to United Way to talk to our own employees about their commitment to become involved with our programs and to share some advice on health and wellness.

Their plans for involvement in United Way and the community are exciting.  In addition to running a workplace giving campaign, 24 Hour Fitness is planning to start volunteer projects at our neighborhood centers that would engage children not only in fun exercise programs, but also in discussions about nutrition, fitness and overall wellness.  They are also looking at sponsoring a 5k run in the fall for both their employees and patrons, with the proceeds going to United Way of Salt Lake!

After highlighting their future plans with United Way, Melissa and two of her trainers spoke to us about wellness topics.  While covering varied subjects such as general nutrition, diet myths, vegetarian proteins, and office exercises, Melissa and her training team answered questions and gave demonstrations.  After all, if we hope to successfully encourage healthy habits and behaviors in our community at large, then it is certainly a good idea to look inwards and make sure that we are working towards a healthier lifestyle for ourselves.  This is what it means to LIVE UNITED.  And I, for one, am sitting up a little straighter today!  Thank you, 24 Hour Fitness!

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County Rankings and Roadmaps

elizabeth_garbeby Elizabeth Garbe, Public Policy Director
and Natalie Fall, Events Intern

On March 20th, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the most recent data from their County Rankings and Roadmaps Program.  This marked an important day for United Way of Salt Lake and our partners in our quest to lead data-driven decisions and change in the communities we serve.   


Similar to UWSL’s Collective Impact work, the Rankings and Roadmaps is built on the understanding that no single sector alone can tackle the health challenges in a community.  The project has a deep understanding that underlying social and economic factors, like education and unemployment, affect the health of individuals. Because of this, it is important for education, income, and health stakeholders to work together to tackle the myriad of issues a community faces. Drawing on health information from various national data sources, the rankings are comprised of several indicators, such as graduation, crime, and unemployment rates that may be contributing to compromised health and limited care access.

United Way of Salt Lake is one of 18 recipients of the Roadmaps to Health Community grant from the foundation. The grant supports the South Salt Lake Early Learning Network, which is focused on ensuring all children enter school ready to learn – an important step in ensuring all children in the community graduate from high school. Salt Lake County has one of the lowest graduation rates in the state, with 72% of 9th graders graduating in four years, compared to the state average of 76%.

This data highlights the deep interdependence of obstacles to physical and social wellness present in our neighborhoods. Applying this new data to our Collective Impact work will help United Way of Salt Lake and our partners mobilize resources, advance policy, and align our efforts towards healthier communities.

To check out the County Rankings and Roadmaps Program click here

For more information about UWSL’s partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation go to

South Salt Lake: United for the Common Good

(Photo: Chris Snyder, South Salt Lake Chief of Police and Domoina Voniarisoa, Hser Ner Moo Project Coordinator)

Kari Cutler is one of the many community partners working in South Salt Lake. Here is what she had to say about the United Way of Salt Lake and South Salt Lake neighborhood partnership:

“It is difficult to express the impact the centers have made. Yes, there have been a number of events, projects and shows that the centers have hosted, but it is the stories of the individual youth that make all of the hours and work of the staff and partnering agencies worth the time and effort.

One example is a 9th grade youth that moved to South Salt Lake from L.A. where he was born and raised with a “gangster” mentality. He had been involved in drugs and violence for years. His first couple of days at the center he found himself in the office speaking with the coordinator about his poor attitude and decisions. By the end of the school year, staff had witnessed a 180 degree change as he was the “cool” kid and a mentor for all of the younger youth at the Center. He talked kids out of fighting, on one occasion he sat down with a 6th grader who knew he was in over his head because of his poor behavior and helped this 6th grader come to the coordinator and sincerely apologize. Another time he had five 6th graders hanging on him while he was on the monkey bars all laughing and trying to get him to fall off. The last week of school he again spent hours in coordinators office-only now it was because he wanted to be there, he knew he was safe at the Center and benefited by its programs.

Another youth came consistently after-school each day and was diligent in working on her homework. She had struggled with mathematics all year, but found her math grade improve each term with her diligence and willingness to let the Center benefit her life. It is impossible to describe the satisfaction that came to all of the staff when this 7th grade girl ran to the program to announce that she received an A in math.”

While the city has its challenges, by LIVING UNITED, South Salt Lake is a place where all resident, even those facing the toughest odds, have opportunities for a better life.

Recipe for Summer Health and Savings

By: Lynn Riling
Community Collaborations Director

One of the things I like best about summer is the wonderful fresh produce available at local farmers’ markets, produce stands, and grocery stores. And one of my favorite ways to cook in the summer is on a barbeque grill. Vegetables (yes, vegetables!) taste delicious cooked on the grill and preparing them this way is really quick and simple – mandatory for hot days! A few of my favorites: slice bell peppers of any color, squash (green or yellow), and onion, pour a little olive over the top, wrap in aluminum foil and place on the grill (low heat). The veggies cook in just a few minutes. If you enjoy meat, try wild-caught salmon (especially good with a little mustard and Paul Prudhomme’s seasoning) or chicken breast (my husband likes to mix a variety of bottled sauces with fresh garlic and a little white wine) on the grill. Veggie burgers work well, too! Before you know it, you’ve made a delicious, nutritious, and low-calorie dinner for yourself and your family.

Cooking at home can be much less costly than eating out, and almost as fast and easy! The best part is that you can make sure what you are eating is low in calories and fat. Many people today are in over their heads in debt and lots of people have problems with their weight. One of the easiest (okay, changing habits isn’t always easy – but it is very possible!) ways to save money and lose weight  is to make wise choices with the food you buy and prepare for yourself and your family. Instead of picking up restaurant food to go on your way home from work, stop and buy some fresh foods and cook them! You’ll soon notice that you have more money (restaurant food is more expensive than buying fresh food) and losing weight (there are a lot of hidden calories in restaurant food). Eventually, you’ll find yourself planning ahead what to buy at the grocery for the week.

Changing habits isn’t always easy. However, with some determination and some clear, simple steps you’ll soon be well on your way to changing not only your eating habits, but increasing your savings and being healthier!

Unplug & Play!

Unplug & Play is not a week intended to snub TV, computers, or our phones. There are many great ways that technology can help us stay active… love that Wii bowling! Unplug & Play week is more about making lifestyle changes to encourage healthy habits that lead towards a better life for all. We want individuals, families, and children have the tools they need to succeed in school and life. Eating right, drinking more water, spending time outside playing, and limiting TV time are pretty simple steps to start on the path towards a successful and healthy life.

Parent Tip: Find creative ways each week to keep your family healthy and active. Plan family fun days, take walks after dinner, learn something new together as a family, prepare healthy snacks and meal plan… there are many ways to help your family. Start off small, and get creative!

Kid Tip: Talk to your parents about start a walking school bus or a bike train so you can get exercise on your way to school.

Daily Challenge: Keep going! Healthy habits take time to work into your routine. Every day try to challenge yourself to take one more step towards a healthy lifestyle.  Today plan out the steps you will take next week. Make a goal and with a little effort you will reach it!

Cheers to you, and a happy healthy future!

Unplug & Play!

DID YOU KNOW …Snacking while watching TV can lead to overeating.”

Many people do not realize what they are eating while sitting in front of the TV. People are more likely to eat unhealthy when in front of the TV because they just are not paying attention.  If you are going to eat in front of the television you need to make sure that you have healthy options and regulate portion sizes before your show or movie begins so that you are aware of what you are consuming.

Parent Tip: Parents and caregivers play an important role in teaching kids healthy behaviors. It is suggested that parents separate snack time and TV time. Overeating can easily happen when kids are camped out in front of the TV.

Kid Tip: Did you know water, fruits, and veggies have super powers? Its true! Water, fruits and veggies help your body and mind to be strong and healthy. They act much like a super hero… zooming around inside protecting your immune system, eliminating danger, and giving you the fuel you need to be great! Drink lots of water today and try a new fruit or veggie.

Daily Challenge: Today try to eat only healthy snacks. If you start by preparing healthy snacks at the beginning of your day you will be all set. A snack size bag of popcorn, some veggies and humus, fruit, or even a small piece of dark chocolate are good choices for when you feel the need for a snack but want to be more healthy.

*Statistics found here