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News & Blog2020-05-06T07:32:58-04:00

NEWS & BLOG

Community Partners Launch New Program to Help Build Positive Relationships and Overcome Loneliness: Friendly Connections

A sense of belonging is a basic human need, just [...]

By |December 17th, 2021|Categories: News|Comments Off on Community Partners Launch New Program to Help Build Positive Relationships and Overcome Loneliness: Friendly Connections

Week 8: United Way Passes $4 Million Mark, Presses Forward Towards the Finish Line

United Way of Midland County continues to press towards the [...]

By |November 5th, 2021|Categories: Campaign|Comments Off on Week 8: United Way Passes $4 Million Mark, Presses Forward Towards the Finish Line
2302, 2022

Making Ends Meet: Brian’s Story

February 23rd, 2022|Community Impact|

Brian and his fiancé have always believed in working hard. They both had steady jobs and took pride in being able to provide for their family.

But when the pandemic hit, Brian was laid off and struggled to find work. They started to fall behind and weren’t able to cover all their bills. The couple worried that their family might end up homeless if he couldn’t find a new job.

Connecting through 2-1-1

Brian wasn’t sure where to turn for help, so he searched the internet to see what was available. He discovered 2-1-1, a number he had never heard of before. He learned that 2-1-1 is a 24 hour, 7 day a week information and referral line that connects those in need with the resources that can help.

After explaining his situation, they connected him with Home to Stay for rental assistance.

“They are amazing,” shared Brian. “They didn’t judge me for needing help and were really nice to work with.”

Brian and his fiancé were so relieved to have the stress of the unknown taken off their shoulders. With the short-term help, they were able to catch up and get back on track.

One More Hurdle

They were back on their feet and doing well, until another crisis added overwhelming stress and uncertainty back into their lives.

When Brian went in for a routine physical, they discovered a tumor the size of a softball in his abdomen. He had been struggling with back pain, and that explained why.

The solution…surgery with an eight-week recovery period, leaving him out of work again.

Coming Out Ahead 

Knowing that a long recovery and time away from work would probably create financial strain on their family, Brian reached out to Home to Stay again.

“We feel a lot less stressed and don’t have to worry about money as much anymore,” shared Brian. “They helped us create a budget and checked in on us quite a bit just to see how we were doing.”

Brian is back on his feet and has started his own construction business.

“I would tell someone who is struggling with making ends meet to not give up,” said Brian. “There are organizations and people who treat you well and help you when you need it.”

He continued to share that “It may take some time, but hang in there because they will come through and when they do, everything seems to work out.”

802, 2022

Homeless to Hopeful: Dave’s Story

February 8th, 2022|Community Impact|

Dave lost everything in the flood. His home. His relationship. His family. Himself.

With nowhere else to turn, Dave moved in with his parents until he could get back on his feet.

“I moved back home with my parents after the flood,” shared Dave. “But my mom was lost in her own addiction and wasn’t able to offer me any support. Needing to find somewhere else to go, I reconnected with an ex.”

Feeling alone and afraid, Dave found comfort in a lifestyle he wasn’t proud of. After reconnecting with his ex-partner, they quickly found themselves relying on drugs again to cope with all of the pain and uncertainty.

FINDING COURAGE

Dave knew he didn’t want to be living this lifestyle, but he wasn’t sure how to escape it. He was so disappointed in himself for relapsing, and struggled to see past it. He was losing hope.

One day, he found the courage to ask for help and went into rehab. At first, his friend was attending with him, but he lost the strength to battle his addiction. Dave made the difficult choice to disconnect from old friends who were negative influences so he could focus on rebuilding his life.

HOME SWEET HOME

After living in his car for several months, Dave found refuge at a local shelter and was connected with Home to Stay.

“My social worker at Home to Stay is the best,” Dave shared. “She’s been so supportive and really listened to me without judging me for the choices I had made.”

Dave finally felt like he was getting back on track and was able to start rebuilding his life. After connecting with Home to Stay, he quickly found an apartment he could afford.

They helped him secure furniture and provided him groceries and gas cards to help him get started. They even helped him get moved into his new place.

“I don’t feel as insecure anymore,” he said. “I can’t imagine if I was still homeless. I probably would have given up by now. Getting connected to Home to Stay has been the best thing that’s happened all year. They are life-savers.”

Now Dave is advocating for others battling addiction and homelessness, connecting them with the resources that helped him rebuild his life.

“Don’t be too afraid to ask for help,” shared Dave. “There is help out there, and it changes everything.”

702, 2022

United Way Invests Dollars Raised in Community Programs

February 7th, 2022|News|

United Way measures success in how lives are changed, and they do not do this work alone. In addition to working with local corporations, businesses, nonprofits, foundations and individuals, they partner with 27 dedicated nonprofits and invest in quality programs that show measurable outcomes every year. Together, they create new solutions to pressing problems and join with people from all walks of life to put those solutions into action.

“Our partner agencies continue to inspire us through the incredible work they do to support our neighbors in need of help,” shared Nancy Money, United Way’s Director of Community Impact. “They are the champions of care in our community, and have the most generous hearts. We are so grateful for them being a network of support for our community, families, friends and neighbors.”

United Way listens, asks questions and analyzes data to ensure that their issue areas are aligned with the most pressing needs. Dollars are invested in programs in the areas of Youth Success, Health and Household Stability because change is bigger than a single organization or program.

“You may not realize that volunteers determine how the community’s investment will be allocated,” shared Kim Stuhler, Senior Investment Manager. “Each year our volunteer panels devote over 20 hours to reviewing applications, assessing outcomes, posing questions and hearing from our partners. Based on what they learn, they make funding recommendations to the United Way board.”

The allocation process is best-in-class and digs deep into the funded programs to ensure that there is a high level of accountability and that all investments demonstrate measurable impact in the community. United Way’s Community Impact Strategy Team also explores gaps in health and human service needs and recommended that United Way open the allocation process up this year to help meet those gaps.

United Way is excited to announce their new partnership with Midland County Habitat for Humanity and the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network.

“Both of our new partners join an impactful team of nonprofits doing amazing work in our community that align with our three pillars,” shared Holly Miller, President & CEO of United Way of Midland County. “Throughout the last year and a half, we have worked very closely with both organizations through flood recovery and the global pandemic. These partnerships allow us to have a greater reach, ensuring that our neighbors have basic needs like access to healthy food along with affordable home ownership.”

Funding will support Habitat for Humanity’s Homeownership & Construction program and Emergency Food Pantry Network’s Backpack Buddies program. In addition, funding was approved for three new programs provided through current nonprofit partners. This includes: 3 & 4’s Preschool and Infant/Toddler childcare as Midland County ESA along with Adult Basic Education through the Legacy Center for Community Success.

Click here to see the entire list of partner agencies and programs United Way supports.

1712, 2021

Community Partners Launch New Program to Help Build Positive Relationships and Overcome Loneliness: Friendly Connections

December 17th, 2021|News|

A sense of belonging is a basic human need, just like food and shelter. Friendly Connections, a new community program, builds a bridge to belonging by pairing up community members and helping them connect for 2-3 hours a month by phone.

Community partners including MyMichigan Health, Senior Services, 2-1-1 of Northeast Michigan, Midland Area Wellbeing Coalition and United Way of Midland County have united to bring this new program to our community.

“Feeling like we belong contributes significantly to our wellbeing,” shared Kathy Snyder, Coordinator of the Midland Area Wellbeing Coalition. “Friendly Connections is an innovative way to foster connections and increase belonging throughout our community.”

Before the pandemic, loneliness and isolation were already on the rise. As more and more people have been forced into isolation during the pandemic, feelings of disconnection, loneliness and loss of hope have increased. In a regional survey conducted by MyMichigan Health, over 47% of respondents indicated they were struggling with loneliness.

“We know loneliness can contribute to health issues,” shared Kathy Dollard, Director of Behavioral Health at MyMichigan Health. “We are excited that MyMichigan Health’s Bridge to Belonging Program now includes Friendly Connections as another tool to help those who are lonely, and in turn, improve their health.”

How it Works

The program will be housed at 2-1-1 of Northeast Michigan. Matches will be made by a Connections Coach based on interviews with candidates to find common interests. Community members have an opportunity to join the program as a Tier-1 or Tier-2 volunteer. All connections will have at least one Tier-2 volunteer, which includes a background check and additional online training.

“Senior Services is thrilled to be a part of creating the Friendly Connections program,” shared Barb Zebley-Oldani, Director of Care Coordination at Senior Services. “Decreasing social isolation by improving connections for older adults has been a long-time focus for Senior Services. This program expands our efforts to improve the overall wellbeing and quality of life for those we serve.”

Throughout each month, matches will connect over the phone to chat about common interests, what’s happening in their lives and even ways they might need extra support and help. The goal is to build a caring relationship between the matched pair and to help alleviate loneliness, fuel connection and keep our neighbors connected to the community.

“I’m excited for Friendly Connections to be introduced to our community,” shared Jeremy Screws, Connections Manager at 2-1-1 of Northeast Michigan. “I am hopeful that it will be a great resource for individuals to connect with others and create a sense of belonging in the Midland community.”

Volunteers are needed to make this program possible. The time commitment is minimal, calls can be made from anywhere and everyone can participate. Most importantly, the meaningful connections will be life changing.

To learn more or sign up as a volunteer, visit 211friendlyconnections.org. For specific questions, email the Connections Coach at connect@211nemichigan.org

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United Way of Midland County
115 Jerome St, Midland, MI 48640
Phone: (989) 631-3670
Email: helpdesk@unitedwaymidland.org

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