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PROMOTING FINANCIAL STABILITY AND SELF SUFFICIENCY
United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) seeks to identify and address underlying causes as an effective way of tackling issues and transforming communities. As the economy continues to sputter, we are seeing a whole new category of people seeking assistance in order to keep their families financially stable. Since many of these individuals have never needed help before, they don’t know where to turn.
Strong Home is UWWC’s initiative to help low-to-moderate income families become and stay financially stable. In late 2010, United Way gathered volunteers and representatives from the business and nonprofit sectors to determine an effective way to connect financial literacy and direct financial assistance support services to low-to-moderate income families in Northern Fairfield County and Southern Litchfield County. During the review sessions, the team realized that while many financial assistance services are offered in the community, there is a lack of coordinated efforts; little effort to reach out to area businesses to provide economic education; no central intake and management point that individuals seeking financial help can tap; and a lack of financial coaching and follow-up guidance to those individuals receiving support services in our communities.
To remedy this situation, UWWC has launched The Financial Resource Center. Its mission is to teach residents fundamental financial literacy skills, link them to existing financial services and empower individuals and families toward financial capability. We engage skilled community volunteers to facilitate financial literacy workshops and provide one on one financial coaching to area residents. This free and confidential program and is open to residents, ages 18 and older, in Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield County. If you would like to receive financial coaching services or become a financial coach, please click on the links or call 203-297-6674 to learn more.
In addition to our Strong Home Initiative, UWWC also offers support to many existing programs and leads several collaborative efforts in our communities:
•We invest in a range of programs in Northern Fairfield County, Southern Litchfield County and Stamford that provide job training, literacy skills and job support for those with disabilities. We fund agencies that offer homeless services and housing aid, such as supportive and affordable housing programs and security deposit assistance. Also, because sometimes people’s needs are immediate, UWWC funds many local programs that offer basic and emergency assistance to those in financial distress: such as soup kitchens, emergency shelter and utility assistance to name just a few.
•UWWC leads both the Northern Fairfield/Southern Litchfield and Stamford Financial Stability Collaboratives, engaging financial service providers, non-profit agencies and community members in an effort to support existing financial literacy/financial coaching programs and explore ways to deliver coordinated and/or additional financial support services to support our residents.
• The Danbury Food Collaborative (DFC) is a group spearheaded and led by United Way of Western Connecticut, and is currently comprised of 16 non-profit agencies, including local food pantries, soup kitchens and agencies that deliver meals to the homebound in Danbury. The mission of the DFC is to improve access to food, quality of food and sustainability of food for all members of our city. The DFC has released A Guide to Accessing Food in Danbury, which lists available food pantries, congregate meals sites and opportunities for home delivered meals in Danbury, including days and times of operation and qualifications necessary to receive these services. This Guide is also available in Spanish.
• We support Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Coalitions and Centers in Western Connecticut. These centers provide free tax filing for low income households and increase awareness of available tax credits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-to–moderate income individuals and families.
• UWWC chairs the Emergency Food & Shelter Program Local Board (EFSP) in both Northern Fairfield County and the City of Stamford. The Local Board distributes awarded dollars in Federal Funds from FEMA’s Department of Homeland Security to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the community.
• UWWC is an annual sponsor and planning committee member of Greater Danbury’s Project Homeless Connect. This one day, one stop event serves over 200 individuals each year that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by providing them with access to over sixty agency services, ranging from health and wellness, homeless prevention, supportive housing, foreclosure prevention, financial services, energy assistance and more.
• United Way’s 24-hour hotline – 211 - along with the 211 Navigator online tool (both operated through a partnership with the State of Connecticut) connects those looking for quick answers with available agencies and services. Assistance is offered for everything from basic needs to child care services, crisis intervention, senior and veterans’ services and healthcare.
•We offer FamilyWize prescription cards to those without prescription drug coverage to help reduce the cost of select medicines.
If you are interested in supporting Financial Stability in Western Connecticut by volunteering or making a donation, please contact Karen Mello at email@example.com or 203-297-6687.
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