At United Way of Story County (UWSC), we believe that when we are United together, we can find solutions that make long-lasting, positive change in the lives of individuals and families, which is why our 2018 LIVE UNITED Campaign theme is “In order to live better, we must LIVE UNITED.” Because when we LIVE UNITED, everyone wins.
United Way fights for the health, education, and financial stability of everyone in our community. This month we are focusing on how donations to UWSC ensure that all individuals and families will achieve financial stability. This week our focus is on services in our community that provide access to basic needs.
Story County may have the lowest unemployment rate in the state, but there are still many who struggle to make ends meet. In 2018 United Ways of Iowa updated the ALICE Report. ALICE stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. This is also known as hard working residents who are at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty.
The poverty rate combined with the percentage of ALICE households in Story County is hovering at 42%, almost half of our county is struggling to meet basic household expenses. United Way of Story County helps to fund services that can act as a safety net for these families. When families are one flat tire or one broken arm away from disaster, our partner agencies can step in to connect them to mainstream benefits, help find them a safe place to stay, and provide other financial supports.
When a family encounters an immediate need, Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance provides emergency rent and utility assistance as well as healthy food vouchers and gas cards. The Salvation Army also offers rent and utility assistance as well as items through a monthly food and personal care pantry. The pantry is client-choice, meaning families pick and choose what they want to take home and is distributed by weight. Twice a week, those in need can also visit their Doing The Most Good Market, offering fresh produce and breads from local sources. Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) also has an emergency pantry that Story County families can access once per calendar month. These pre-packaged meals will sustain a family for three to five days.
In addition, UWSC funds programs that offer shelter to those in the most stressful of situations. ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support) assists survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in finding housing and connecting them to other community resources. For those experiencing homelessness, Emergency Residence Project (ERP) provides various housing services for individuals and families including emergency shelter and transitional housing. ERP also works proactively to keep individuals in their home through the Homeless Prevention Program.
Creating the strongest community possible requires individuals and families in need to have their basic needs met. United Way of Story County invests in programs and organizes projects across our county that help families work toward becoming financially stable. Your investment in our work increases our capacity to change lives throughout our community and beyond. Because in order to live better, we must LIVE UNITED.