Past, Present and Future of United Way of Erie County

United Way of Erie County has been providing resources to the community since 1923. During the past 91 years, the organization has undergone changes.

Initially, United Way funded 25 different agencies enabling them to provide various programs and services to residents of Erie County.

Today, United Way of Erie County is working towards creating lasting positive change in the community. United Way recruits passionate people, guides collaboration of caring and focused organizations, and funds the expertise of those who realize that together we can all advance the greater good of the community. Together we strive to improve the lives of people by promoting self-sufficiency. We do this by teaching financial stability, fostering hope and solutions in education, effecting health care and wellness, and - when a safety net is needed – fulfilling the basic needs of survival.

In the past few years, United Way of Erie County has been transitioning to the Community Impact business model. What does this mean? Community impact is less about helping one person at a time and more about creating systematic changes in the community. United Way of Erie County has chosen to promote self-sufficiency of residents of the community as its basis for Community Impact.

Two years ago, as an organization, the Board voted to move towards community impact by adopting the impact areas of Education, Income and Health and funding programs to help achieve goals in each of the areas.

The goal of education is to ensure youth graduate from school. Mentoring students on life-style as well as focusing on the value of staying in school are solid pieces of the community – wide, in-the-school, funded programs.

The goal of income is to promote financial stability and independence. We all strive for financial security for ourselves and our families. Financial Security and Accountability breeds stability. And, stable and self- sufficient families are the bedrock of any community.

The goal of health is to improve individual’s health. United Way of Erie County strives to build a community where people of all ages are healthy and have access to needed care. In an effort to improve Erie County residents’ physical and mental health, United Way works and supports programs that make sure people get support services they need while simultaneously addressing the root causes of negative health issues. This truly affects the vibrancy of a community. We know that good health is directly linked to a successful and long life. Whether it is a neighbor with limited or no health insurance, or someone struggling with mental illness or an addiction, United Way supports programs to ensure everyone has access to affordable and quality care as well as wellness education.

For those times when individuals or families need assistance to get back on their feet, United Way continues to support safety net services. When unforeseen challenges in life happen, United Way-funded programs are there to help. We provide the necessities when survival is the only goal. Being able to provide safety net services such as safe housing, adequate food, and medical care allows individuals and families to restart their goal of a stable life, thus providing greater long-term stability for these families and our community.

The next steps as we evolve in Community impact will be to research the needs in our community. Are the goals that we have currently set realistic or do we need to change them? Secondly, we will develop goals and outcomes to create long lasting change in our community. Lastly, we will fund programs and initiatives to help us meet the goals.

As we move forward, United Way is still a Community Leader and Collaborator~ positioned to identify critical issues in the community, and collaborate with other community entities such as the Erie County Matters by offering Bridges out of Poverty training; Second Harvest Food Bank to provide fresh produce to low income families; Ohio Association of Foodbanks to provide free tax assistance to low income households; the Family and Children First Council – participate on the committee to ensure that families have the mental health services they need: We work with other programs in the community to establish initiatives that enable people to build stronger lives.

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