United Way Programs Help People in Good Times and Bad
"In good times and bad, United Way's focus is to help people in need," said Robert H. (Bob) Brown, Heart of Florida Untited Way President/CEO. "With thousands of local residents affected by job cuts, loss of medical benefits, foreclosures and other serious problems, United Way programs are a valuable resource in helping people weather the storm."
In addition to providing critical funding to local agencies such as Second Harvest Food Bank, The Salvation Army, Coalition for the Homeless, Seniors First and many others, United Way operates or administers other programs that offer immediate assistance to people in need. These include:
United Way 2-1-1 & Elder Helpline
Much like 9-1-1 or 4-1-1, this 24-hour-per-day helpline offers free assistance and referrals for affordable housing, child care, counseling, help with elderly family members and much more. In 2008, more than 115,000 calls were received - a 41 percent increase. Utility, rent and food assistance consistently rank as the top three reasons people seek help. Click here
to learn more.
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Credited with lifting more children out of poverty than any other federal program, EITC offers tax refunds ranging from $438 to $4,824 to eligible families and individuals. Promoted locally as part of United Way's Prosperity Campaign of Central Florida, the program can make a life-changing difference for people who are working to achieve financial stability. And with more than $395 million in EITC dollars distributed in the tri-county region last year, the program also gives a significant boost to the local economy. Because many workers' income is now lower due to staff cuts or reduced hours, thousands more will likely qualify for EITC. Click here to learn more.
- FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card Program
At a time when many people must decide between paying for food or medication, the FamilyWize program offers an average savings of 35 percent on retail prescription prices. These cards can be used by everyone in our community, not just those without insurance. For people with prescription coverage, the card can still be used during deductible periods and coverage gaps or for medications not covered by their plan. The cards are honored by 95 percent of U.S. pharmacies. All that's needed is a FamilyWize card, which is available at no cost through United Way. Click here to learn more.
Last year more than 376,900 Central Floridians were helped by these and nearly 200 other community-based programs that receive funding support from United Way. Characterizing the current crisis as an "economic tsunami," Brown predicted thousands more people will need help this year.
With United Way's 2008-09 campaign 79 percent of the way to achieving its $18.1 million dollar goal, he urged companies and individuals to do whatever they can to help push the campaign to the finish line.
"It's United Way's responsibility to help respond to growing community needs, but we can't do it alone," Brown added. "Financial support is needed from all segments of our community."
To make an online donation, visit http://www.hfuw.org/Give.php. To run a campaign, contact Leigh Smith, HFUW Resource Development Vice President at (407) 835-0918, or e-mail Leigh.Smith@hfuw.org.