July 23, 2018
Alice is one step away from a crisis. The mother of two works full-time, yet she continues to face financial hardship because the cost of living exceeds her wage. Each month, she struggles to afford the cost of housing, food and health care. A sudden car repair or doctor visit could wipe out what little financial stability her family has.
But Alice isn’t just one person; ALICE encompasses hundreds of thousands of people across our country who are struggling to afford basic necessities. ALICE represents Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed people who earn more than the U.S. poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living. In Indiana, 22 percent of households are ALICE.
For the nearly 6,000 ALICE families in Morgan County, there’s hope for a better future. United Way of Central Indiana, Vectren and the Barbara B. Jordan YMCA are making sure of it. Through two $20,000 grants from Vectren, the Y and United Way have been able to provide families with a financial and employment coach to guide them to a stronger financial footing. “This is a way for us to invest in the community, give opportunities to our community and break the cycle of poverty,” says Beth Pace, who manages community outreach at Vectren.
“There are lots of families and households that are struggling to meet every day needs,” says Karen DeWitt, Community Needs Coordinator at the Y. By providing extensive employment and financial coaching — free of charge — Karen is helping families find their way out of poverty. “I help people realize they can make changes for themselves, set goals and achieve those goals. That is powerful,” says Karen.
On the employment side, Karen helps her clients obtain and maintain employment, advance their skills and develop a career path. Karen provides education and training, as well as support and encouragement. The key to her coaching is identifying the strengths of her clients and homing in on them.
Recently, a stay at home mom who had been a factory worker for 17 years came to her for resume help. “We discussed what skills she had as a stay at home mom and factory worker. She said, ‘Wow, I never really realized I was that successful as a person.’ We translated the skills she thought were so minor and put it into verbiage on a resume that highlighted what a great worker and person she was.”
Karen also provides financial coaching, which is a major key to helping families get out of — and stay out of — poverty. She teaches them how to create and manage budgets, reduce debt, build credit and save. One major part of her work is helping people better manage their money. “We work with several banks to help educate clients further and get them into a financial intuition to start saving their money more securely and affordably compared to quick cash and payday loan places,” Karen states. Her goal is to help her clients get on a stable financial footing, so they can accomplish their dreams — whether that’s purchasing a vehicle, going to school or owning their own home.
“This program would not be available in Morgan County without partners like Vectren and the Y,” says Diana Roy, United Way Area Director. “But more community support is needed for future growth. The dream is to have a Center for Working Families site at the Y, which would be the first in Morgan County” Diana shares. Center for Working Families (CWF) are neighborhood centers where hardworking, low-income families can access a full range of services to help lift them out of poverty and achieve long-term financial stability.
“CWF provides all the tools, avenues and connections to change the quality of life in the communities we are in and make them more stable,” Beth states. “My hope is that United Way can continue to grow the program as long as there is a need for it in the community.”
With a fully functional CWF site at the Y, the nearly 6,000 ALICE families in Morgan County would have all the resources they need, available all in one place, to improve their financial stability. For the Y, a CWF site simply makes sense for the community. “With a few simple changes, they can financially stand on their own. Not only will it help people in our community, but eventually it will help all the business and nonprofits as well,” says Dave Nash, Executive Director of the Y. “We give away more than $70,000 in financial aid each year. If we can help those people find better jobs, we can use that funding for something else that is important in the community. Everybody wins in the end.”
You can help the nearly 6,000 ALICE families in Morgan County step out of poverty and onto the path to financial stability with a gift to United Way. Your gift will provide resources these families need and deliver hope to the many ALICE families we call neighbors.
United Way is proud to partner with the Barbara B. Jordan YMCA and Vectren to make an impact in the financial stability of our neighbors in Morgan County. Learn more about the Vectren grants here.