Changing the world by helping families become financially stable, independent

The United Way of West Central Connecticut, which serves the communities of Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, Plymouth and Terryville, is working to change the world by focusing on the building blocks of a good life for everyone – Education, Income and Health. Today we will explore how United Way is having an impact on Income.
In order to have a good life, everyone needs a good income. Without reliable income, individuals and families struggle to gain financial stability and independence. Our Income work focuses on two different aspects of the Pathway to Prosperity – teaching individuals how to become self-sufficient and providing necessary items that families couldn’t otherwise afford.
It’s important that these ideas work together to break the cycle of poverty – we can’t provide basic needs for a family without offering them tools to change their current situation. But we also can’t only teach people how to become financially stable if there are other obstacles preventing independence. Until a person’s basic needs are met, they can’t focus on higher level issues in their lives.
So what does United Way do to address these issues in our “Income” work? We have the following in-house initiatives:
The Adopt-A-Child Back to School Program asks donors from the community to “adopt” a child for the first day of school. This donor provides the child with a backpack, school supplies and a first day of school outfit – all things essential to getting a child off to school on the right foot.
United Way’s Financial Coaching Program provides individuals and families with a one-on-one volunteer coach who helps them to address common financial concerns, such as how to increase savings, decrease debt and create a spending plan.
Through a partnership with the CT Money School, United Way offers free Financial Education Classes that teach individuals about different financial topics – from budgeting to debt management to using credit wisely.
Our Joy of Sharing Holiday Programs provide families with food during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It also provides a toy to low-income children during Christmas.
Finally, our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site offers free tax preparation to any household earning less than $51,000. While this helps to free up the money otherwise given to a paid preparer, we also help by ensuring that our tax clients are claiming all of their eligible tax credits and that they begin thinking about productive ways to use their refund.
United Way also funds local non-profits that focus on income, such as Bristol Community Organization, Connecticut Legal Services, Literacy Volunteers, Plymouth Community Food Pantry, Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul Mission and others!
By funding programs at local non-profits, while also implementing community-level initiatives, United Way is able to have a real, lasting impact on the financial stability of our local families.
Would you like to help United Way change the world by supporting our work in Income? Simply log onto our website to make a donation today and earmark your investment toward Income:
This is the fourth column in an eight-week series from United Way of West Central Connecticut’s President & CPO, Donna Osuch. 

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