FOCUS FOR ANNUAL CELEBRATION March 29, 2018: Thank you for helping us fight
Hannah* was eight weeks pregnant when her live-in boyfriend pushed her down the stairs.
Her ankle was broken but her pregnancy was safe. Her boyfriend was arrested and sent to prison for four years. Living alone and unable to return to work with her injury, she fell behind on rent and every other bill.
Hannah went to Alliance Area Domestic Violence Shelter for help. There she learned emotional and financial skills to get her life on track.
At the Shelter, she worked with a counselor who helped her to understand the cycle of abuse and how to deal with the trauma she experienced. Hannah also attended group therapy, met with a case manager and took financial workshops. Those services helped her develop goals, recognize her skills, gain self-esteem and make a solid plan for her future. When she completed the shelter programs, Hannah moved into an apartment, gave birth to a little girl, and received a promotion at her job. She is grateful for all of the support she received at the Shelter. She now helps others by working with the Shelter’s outreach services.
MJ* lost his job and everything changed.
He had grown up in a middle-class environment and obtained a college degree, despite his abuse of recreational drugs during that time. After graduation, he began a sales career in the construction industry. MJ became very successful and was enjoying the benefits his job provided. After an accident though, his life changed. He became dependent on prescription medications while mastering the art of enjoying life as a “functional alcoholic and drug addict.”
When the housing market crashed, he lost his job and the six figure salary that went with it. Relationships with his family, co-workers and friends suffered. This marked his third co-occurring incident of depression, anxiety and drug abuse. Finding himself homeless
in October of 2016, he entered the Refuge of Hope.
The Refuge of Hope referred MJ to ICAN Housing, who helped him secure housing and receive mental health treatment.
ICAN specialists provided several months of support to help MJ get back on his feet. He received mental health counseling and employment coaching. He is grateful for the assistance and guidance that ICAN Housing was able to provide in his recovery.
After 15 years of living with an abusive husband, Mary* had finally had enough.
Mary summoned up all her courage and left him. She filed for divorce, and took her two children, one with special needs, to live with her mom. The lack of visitation from her ex-husband made it challenging for Mary to balance her life financially between work and appropriate child care.
CARE Team Family Support Specialist’s first connected with Mary when she enrolled her children in school. Specialists are in the schools to help breakdown the non-academic barriers for children and families to be successful in life.
They helped connect Mary with programs that made her family’s life more manageable. She received help from local food pantries, clothing closets, furniture donations, holiday assistance and affordable child care that meets the special needs of her children.
Mary still struggles but is very grateful for all the support and resources her Family Support Specialist provided for her family.
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF November 20, 2017: ID Programs
United Way of Greater Stark County FIGHTS for the Health, Education, and Financial Stability of every person in every community...but we don’t do it alone. We rely on volunteers who donate their time, energy and hearts to help us spread our mission throughout Greater Stark County. We help them find ways to get involved through our online Volunteer Resource Center.
The Volunteer Resource Center connects potential volunteers to a multitude of opportunities throughout Stark County. Volunteers can create their own account and keep track of activities in which they’ve participated. This function allows students to monitor their hours
required for school leadership organizations. Working adults can use this site to track their time for employer-supported volunteer days.
Local organizations can post their own opportunities, or participate with other groups on events that require multiple volunteers handling different activities. Opportunities available on the site range from manual labor like painting classrooms and planting gardens, to engaging activities such as reading to children and caring for senior citizens. There are no restrictions on organizations that want to post their own volunteer opportunities. No task is too big or too small!
Are you between jobs? Volunteering can be beneficial to those who are unemployed. Getting involved with local organizations is a great way to fill the time with productive activity. It’s also a résumé enhancer, because it reflects initiative and commitment. Volunteering can boost self-esteem and create an opportunity to meet people while gaining valuable skills.
All are welcome to volunteer, as long as they have the willingness to serve! To explore the Volunteer Resource Center and create your own account today, visit www.volunteer.uwstark.org. For additional information about posting your volunteer engagement opportunities, contact Dan Jenkins, Marketing and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, at 330.491.9953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF November 13, 2017: ID Programs
United Way of Greater Stark County fights against the struggles of poverty and addiction through its ID Program, which helps Ohio-born residents of Stark County obtain documents needed for housing assistance and chemical dependency treatment. These programs allow people to obtain the documents necessary to enter programs aimed at improving their circumstances.
UWGSC partners with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and local health departments to provide birth certificates and photo IDs to homeless individuals and families living in local shelters. These organizations also partner with local chemical dependency treatment centers to provide photo IDs to those wanting to enter addiction recovery programs. Since the start of the program in 2014, 469 birth certificates and 275 photo IDs have been provided free of charge to people in need of current identification.
Treatment centers partnering with United Way of Greater Stark County: Crisis Intervention & Recovery Center 832 McKinley Avenue NW Canton, OH 44703 330.452.9812; Phoenix Rising Behavioral Healthcare and Recovery 624 Market Avenue North Canton, OH 44702 330.493.4553; CommQuest Services 625 Cleveland Avenue NW Canton, OH 44702 330.455.0374
Vouchers for birth certificates and photo IDs are both accepted by the Canton and Massillon Health Departments. Alliance residents can obtain a birth certificate by contacting Alliance for Children and Families at 330.821.6332. For additional information, visit www.uwstark.org/id-programs or email email@example.com.
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF November 6, 2017: Teen Court
Teen Court is an alternative to traditional juvenile court proceedings for first-time nonviolent offenders. Funded through a grant from the United Way of Greater Stark County, the program is based on the premise that young people respond positively to the influences of their peers. Teen volunteers recommend sentences and act as jurors, bailiffs, defense attorneys, and prosecutors with adult court staff serving as judges. The program is recognized for its effectiveness, low recidivism for defendants, and ongoing benefit for student participants.
Defendants taking part in Teen Court are first- or second-time misdemeanor or status offenders and must admit to involvement in the offense before going before the Court with their parent(s). Hearings last longer than typical juvenile hearings to ensure the defendant, family, victim, and jurors can present their views and ask questions. When a disposition/sentence is recommended, the defendant must complete the terms within 45 days of the court date or face an official case before a judge or magistrate.
Over 200 student volunteers are selected from 8 Stark County high schools to participate in Teen Court each year. Students wishing to participate must complete an application and explain their reasons for wanting to take part in the program. A minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA) and 2 letters of recommendation from teachers are required as well. Students commit to the program for 16 weeks and complete training that focuses on team-building activities, goals and expectations of the court, individualized sentencing, and general knowledge of the community. Participants also learn about the responsibilities of jurors, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and the court bailiff.
Similar youth-to-youth systems have been successfully utilized across the country to hold youth accountable and educate them on the impact their actions have on others and themselves. Teen Court strives to provide a positive experience for everyone involved, from student volunteers to the defendants and their families. Over 2,500 cases of juveniles charged with delinquency and/or unruly offenses have been decided through this program. The majority of offenders’ parents report that the experience had a positive impact on their child and they would recommend this alternative to other families coming before the Juvenile Court.
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF OCTOBER 30, 2017: Get Connected
United Way of Greater Stark County’s Get Connected program partners with local businesses and technical schools to provide access to important vocational training and mentorship opportunities for high school students.
Get Connected began in 2010 as a partnership between United Way of Greater Stark County’s Women’s Leadership Council (now Women United) and Canton City Schools Career Technical Education program. The goal was expose high school students to career opportunities while helping meet local workforce needs for employee diversity and skill sets. Aultman College served as a founding partner, with Diebold Nixdorf coming on board soon after.
A Community Connectors grant from the Ohio Department of Education hasallowed this innovative program to expand. It now includes students from GlenOak High School, and Alliance High School students will soon be participating as well. More business partners have been added, along with a mentoring component that matches career-focused students with adults working in that particular field.
Get Connected students have obtained employment at TimkenSteel, Seifert Technologies, Inc., Young Truck Sales, Ohio Gratings and Skyland Pines. Students who graduate and go on to college receive help in building their networks, finding summer jobs and accessing community resources. Additional initiatives aim at connecting students to positive people and ideas in the community through the Martin Center, Heartbeats to the City, and Stark County Community Action Agency.
Get Connected is actively recruiting business partners who would like to help mold the workforce of the future. Visit www.uwstark.org/Get-Connected or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about getting involved.
Get Connected partners with these local businesses: Aultman College/Aultman Hospital, Diebold Nixdorf, TimkenSteel, Ohio Gratings, Canton Police Department, Seifert Technologies, Inc., Young Trucks Sales, Inc., Early Childhood Resource Center, TD’s Tailgate Grille, Stark State College, and The Karcher Group
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF OCTOBER 23, 2017: C.A.R.E. Team
The C.A.R.E. Team initiative is a partnership between United Way of Greater Stark County and numerous school districts, community and government organizations. Developed in 2005, C.A.R.E. Team now functions within 20 local school districts. This collaboration of teachers, administrators, law enforcement officials, mental health advocates and other social service agencies works together to help at-risk K-12 students and their families confront non-academic barriers to success in school.
The C.A.R.E. acronym stands for Coodinates & Aligns Resources to Engage, Empower & Educate youth, families & communities. Utilizing a holistic approach, C.A.R.E. teams address non-academic issues with students and families that can affect a child’s learning experience, including physical and mental health issues, physical/emotional/substance abuse, housing, nutrition and economic standing. These unique factors vary with each individual school district because of the diverse socio-economic demographics throughout Greater Stark County. Over 4,200 students were served by C.A.R.E. teams during the 2016-2017 school year.
The C.A.R.E. team works with students and their families to identify specific issues, then serves as a liaison between them and numerous community resources. Connecting students with these resources breaks down the barriers interfering with academic progression and success. Gaps in the student’s basic needs development are identified and addressed with services offered within the child’s school setting.This process increases each students’ overall potential for success in school and beyond.
Organizations participating in this initiative with United Way of Greater Stark County are Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery, Stark County Family Court, Stark County Educational Service Center, Stark County Job & Family Services, Stark County Family Council, Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Stark Education Partnership.
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF OCTOBER 16, 2017: FINANCIAL PROSPERITY CENTER
One of United Way of Greater Stark County’s most exciting new initiatives is the Financial Prosperity Center at OhioMeansJobs. Established in March 2017, this collaboration helps Stark County residents implement long-term solutions for the unique financial challenges they face.
The UWGSC Financial Prosperity Center at OhioMeansJobs offers many financial education and asset-building services:
• Ohio Benefit Bank Assistance with Benefit Applications: SNAP, TANF, FAFSA, Medicare & Medicaid, Voter Registration, My Transition Planning
• VITA Free Tax Preparation
• MyBudgetCoach® Budget Coaching
• Financial Education Classes and Workshops
• Workforce & Employment Services: New Employee Coaching, Career Readiness Classes, Job Search Assistance, Clothing Vouchers, Employment Training
MyBudgetCoach® is a FREE 12-month program that pairs clients with specially-trained professional coaches who guide them through the process of establishing good budgeting skills and sound financial habits. The program is offered online and is mobile-accessible.
Coaches and clients can meet virtually or in person. The time commitment is only 2 hours/month, but the skills learned are invaluable.
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF OCTOBER 9, 2017: EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE COLLABORATIVE
Everyone experiences emergencies from time to time. However, some Stark County residents struggle every day to attain financial stability and independence. When an emergency hits, they need somewhere to turn for help. Basic needs assistance helps move the household closer to self-sufficiency.
Since 2011, United Way of Greater Stark County has implemented the Emergency Assistance Collaborative in partnership with the Salvation Armies of Canton, Alliance, and Massillon, Catholic Charities Serving Portage and Stark Counties, and CommQuest Services, Inc. The collaborative provides streamlined and client-centered emergency assistance services to Greater Stark County residents who are at risk of a crisis and seeking temporary assistance for rent or utility payments (natural gas, electric, heating oil and water).
To receive help from the EA Collaborative applicants must be at or below 300% of the current Federal Poverty Guideline, and provide proof of gross household income for the past 30 days. A client may receive assistance for up to 2 emergencies within a 24-month period.
Those who receive assistance from the EA Collaborative must demonstrate financial stability afterwards through increased income, referrals, advocacy, or the resolution of a temporary financial crisis. United Way of Greater Stark County’s Financial Stability Center at OhioMeansJobs offers numerous workshops and services that provide financial counseling and employment coaching, free of charge.
“Our ultimate goal is to create a cycle of financial success within every household in Greater Stark County,” explains UWGSC Income Impact Director Robin Seemann. “We offer short-term assistance and implement long-term strategies to help make this happen.”
FOCUS FOR WEEK OF OCTOBER 2, 2017: VITA
United Way of Greater Stark County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a flagship direct service that helps us FIGHT for financial stability in our community. It has grown tremendously and shows no signs of slowing down. Clinics are available throughout Greater Stark County during tax season.
VITA offers FREE income tax preparation to single residents earning less than $65,000 annually, as well as married couples whose joint yearly income is less than $95,000. Volunteers are trained rigorously, tested extensively, and certified by the IRS before they can work with clients to ensure all protocol is followed while processing taxes. VITA clients’ refunds arrive securely in their bank account via direct deposit, typically 7-14 days after filing.
Volunteering with VITA is a great way to experience first hand the impact this program makes in the lives of low-to-moderate income taxpayers. No previous experience is needed! The IRS provides free tax law training and materials that allow volunteers to prepare basic tax returns. Many VITA volunteers use their new, marketable skills to obtain paid positions elsewhere after tax season.
Various volunteer opportunities include: Intake/Greeter/Scheduler, Tax Preparer, Quality Reviewer, Savings Coach and IT Specialist. Volunteers fluent in languages outside of English are encouraged to apply and assist non-English speaking clients. Hours are flexible and volunteers generally work around 4-5 hours a week.
Highlights From the 2016 Tax Season:
• 93 volunteers prepared 4,166 tax returns
• Just over $3 million in taxpayer refunds and credits helped stimulate the local economies in Stark & Carroll Counties
• Of those refunds, $1.2 million were from refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax and Additional Child Tax Credits
• These tax credits accounted for 40.5% of the total refunds
• Participating taxpayers saved $368,725 in preparation fees