Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Earns 2019 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

WINSTON-SALEM, NC United Way of Forsyth County today earned a 2019 Platinum Seal of Transparency, the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. By sharing metrics that highlight progress United Way of Forsyth County  is making toward its mission, the organization is helping donors move beyond simplistic ways of nonprofit evaluation such as overhead ratios.

“We are excited to convey our organization’s results in a user-friendly and highly visual manner”, said United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer. “By updating our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to earn a Platinum Seal, we can now easily share a wealth of up-to-date organizational metrics with our supporters as well as GuideStar’s immense online audience, which includes donors, grantmakers, our peers, and the media.”

To reach the Platinum level, United Way of Forsyth County added extensive information to its GuideStar Nonprofit Profile: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward its mission. By taking the time to provide this information, United Way of Forsyth County has demonstrated its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate nonprofit performance.

 

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone. United Way of Forsyth County also funds and supports key initiatives in our community including NC211, Housing Matters (formerly the Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness), The Forsyth Promise, The Partnership for Prosperity, and Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods. Through United Way of Forsyth County’s support and aligning of resources, these programs, the agencies, and their collaborating partners are all working to create a Stable, Educated, Healthy, and Economically Mobile Forsyth County.

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Will Invest $13.4 million in Bettering Lives Across Winston Salem and Forsyth County

 

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — United Way of Forsyth County will invest $13.4 million in bettering lives across Winston Salem and Forsyth County, agency officials said Thursday.

 

Money will go to 66 programs delivered by 38 partner agencies that work to improve people’s basic needs, health, education and financial stability .

In 2018, United Way of Forsyth County  helped more than 147,000 people in the community. Over 14,000 people donated to United Way’s 2018 Annual Campaign.

 

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “Through United Way’s support and aligning of resources, these programs, the  agencies and their collaborating partners are working to ensure each of our neighbors has the opportunity to live a stable and healthy life. We can do so much more together rather than individually, and we thank each donor who makes the programs possible. ”

 

For more information about the United Way of Forsyth County, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

 

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone. United Way of Forsyth County also funds and supports  key initiatives in our community including NC211, Housing Matters (formerly the Ten-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness), The Forsyth Promise, The Partnership for Prosperity, and Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods. Through United Way of Forsyth County’s support and aligning of resources, these programs, the agencies, and their collaborating partners are all working to create a Stable, Educated, Healthy, and Economically Mobile Forsyth County.

We Can’t Let Migrant Children Fall Behind- Blog by United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian Gallagher

When I visited the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year, I met parents and children fleeing violence in their home countries. These children were receiving basic care. But they weren’t in school. Most didn’t have books or computers to help them learn.

Amid the migrant crisis at the border, we can’t overlook the fact that kids aren’t gaining the skills they need. Basic requirements, such as personal security, must come first, but statistics tell us how important early childhood education is for children. Read more here

Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County’s Housing Matters Team Held a Housing Connections Day on Thursday July 11, 2019 at the Forsyth County Public Library

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —For immediate Release- July 16, 2019 –  United Way of Forsyth County’s Housing Matters team held a Housing Connections Day on Thursday July 11, 2019 at the Forsyth County Public Library. As a part of United Way’s Housing Matters initiative, this event was created to connect clients who are enrolled in housing programs with affordable housing units available in the community.

Almost 80 people participated in the event; over 50 people took tours of available properties and over 25 applications for units were received. Some of the units were pre-inspected and all were with properties that were willing to accept rapid re-housing and/or Permanent Supportive Housing tenants.

Andrea Kurtz noted, “We were very excited to speed up the process of getting the applications completed, and do real time check requests for the application fees and be able to hand deliver the checks to the property managers all within the same day.  We wouldn’t have been able to complete this major undertaking without the support of all of the homeless service providers within the Winston Salem Continuum of Care “.

Food and beverages were provided by Krispy Kreme, Intown Donutz , Starbuck and Providence Kitchen.

Lou Baldwin of Baldwin Properties spoke about what makes a great landlord / tenant relationship. Kurtz said, “Lou Baldwin and Baldwin Properties have been one of our most loyal supporters and we can’t thank them enough for their participation in this event and their support of the HEARRT project.”

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO Cindy Gordineer notes, “This was a truly exciting and pivotal event for our community and for those individuals seeking housing. The collaboration built on the strength of each of our partners and local businesses to work together for the common good of Forsyth County and its residents.”

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

    

l-r Attendees at event, Andrea Kurtz speaks to the crowd, Lou Baldwin of Baldwin Properties

Press Release: Housing, Emergency Assistance, Rapid Response Team (HEARRT) Is Formed to Address Chronic Homelessness

Housing, Emergency Assistance, Rapid Response Team (HEARRT) Is Formed

City with Dwellings, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Empowerment Project and the United Way’s Housing Matter’s Initiative have joined forces to create the Housing, Emergency Assistance, Rapid Response Team aka HEARRT Team. This collaboration builds on the strength of each partner and is focused on ending the cycle of chronic homelessness in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County for people who have been living on the streets.

The HEARRT approach combines housing with consistent, supportive services and resources as an immediate intervention for highly vulnerable and chronically homeless persons in our community.  To qualify for HEARRT individuals must be identified through street outreach and referred by the Community Intake Center. The Community Intake Center is a project of the WSFC Continuum of Care which helps prioritize access to supportive housing services to the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.

The HEARRT team has four apartments, conveniently located so residents have access to grocery stores, medical care and other services.  The first resident moved in June 28th.  City with Dwellings employs a peer support specialist who will live on-site to provide 24-hour assistance to people living in the HEARRT units.  They will also partner with the case managers from the Empowerment Project who provide intensive case management to support residents as they work towards stability in both their housing and health.  The Team will connect residents to needed services such as mental and physical health care, transportation to food pantries and clothing closets, as well as opportunities for engagement in the community.

Andrea Kurtz, Senior Director, Housing Strategies for United Way of Forsyth County notes, “As we continue our work to eradicate chronic homelessness in our community, this initiative is a tremendous milestone. This collaboration allows for each partner to bring to the table their strengths and we can optimize the capacity of each partner to end the cycle of chronic homelessness”.

United Way Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer said, “This is truly an exciting opportunity for our entire community and it opens the door for everyone working to end chronic homelessness to boost organizational efficiency, increase organizational effectiveness, and drive broader social and systems changes.”

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

More information about the partners:

City with Dwellings’ Community First approach is built on a model of supportive community. Its work is highly participatory and consistent with restorative practices. Research has shown that being part of a community positively impacts an individual’s path to self-determination, independence, and empowerment. City with Dwellings believes it is more effective to work with and alongside individuals rather than doing things for them. These restorative practices strengthen relations between individuals as well as social connections within communities. Developing relationships of trust and engaging the wider community in our work enables City with Dwellings to effectively facilitate a coordinated community response to help house individuals and reduce recidivism back into homelessness.   For more information about City with Dwellings: Contact Tracy Mohr 336-577-8648, tracysmohr@gmail.com

The Empowerment Project (TEP) assists adults wishing to exit homelessness by helping them access mental health and/or substance abuse services, primary health care, and other resources, via a community-based model of managedcare that supports naturalinteraction among clients, local providers andstakeholders, to identify and provide for that population’s unmet needs. Housed at the Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Dept. of Psychiatry, but working closely with the FaithHealth Division and Public Health Sciences, the very small staff of TEP have provided outreach services to over 1,500 persons and case management to approximately 1000 persons of record since 2011.   TEP behavioral specialist staff are deeply respected in this community, by both other provider and agency stakeholders and consumers alike. They serve a niche in the community that few other groups do (e.g., visit outdoor sites where homeless live, provide rides to hearings or shelters) and work diligently to support homeless persons in a wrap-around recovery and strengths model. Providing both outreach and case management as part of the HEARRT team, TEP’s behavioral specialists also will provide client assistance in terms of completion of applications for various programs and resources (e.g., employment or disability), client identification, bus passes, birth certificates and other services. For more information about  The Empowerment Project contact Teresa Cutts: tcutts@wakehealth.edu

greeNest provides household furnishings to individuals and families transitioning to sustainable housing. Volunteers sort, clean and organize furniture and household goods that have been donated by the community and tastefully stage a “showroom” from which participants make selections. Caseworkers from over 60 partnering agencies connect individuals and families in need. Participants, accompanied by their caseworkers, choose donated items that best suit their needs and preferences, respecting them to make their own choices.  Participants then become “owners,” not merely “recipients.”     For more information on greeNest contact: Julia Toone: juliabtone@gmail.com

The United Way’s Housing Matter’s initiative provides support to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Continuum of Care in implementing its vision to, “end chronic homelessness and improve the system of care for all people experiencing a housing crisis.”  As a part of this work the Housing Matter’s team leads the implementation of the CoC’s Community Intake Center, which is a process by which people experiencing homelessness are matched to housing programs based on their needs and vulnerability.   For more information on United Way’s Housing Matters work contact: Andrea Kurtz, 336-577-6826, andrea.kurtz@uwforsyth.org

Thank Your Elected Officials in Congress for Protecting Access to VITA

Congress passed the Taxpayer First Act and made the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program permanent!

Say “thank you” to your elected officials for protecting free, high-quality tax preparation for hardworking Americans.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program was created 50 years ago as a demonstration pilot. When the President signs the Taxpayer First Act, VITA will be codified, and millions of taxpayers can count on this critical program for many tax seasons to come. VITA sites in every state across the country prepared over 1.5 million tax returns for low- and moderate-income Americans in 2019 bringing back $1.8 billion to communities.

You can thank your elected officials in Congress for protecting access to VITA for millions of taxpayers and urge them to increase investments in the program by clicking here

 

Press Release:  Legislation To Make VITA Permanent Passes Congress – Heads To President

For Immediate Release: June 17, 2019 –  Legislation To Make VITA Permanent Passes Congress – Heads To President
On Thursday, June 13 Congress passed a bill that will make the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program permanent. The bill, H.R. 3151 – The Taxpayer First Act, will now head to the President to be signed into law. On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates visited Capitol Hill to advocate for key tax priorities including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for workers not raising kids at home and young people ages 21 to 24. United Way of Forsyth County, Chief Impact Officer , Debbie Wilson, was among those advocating and she notes, “As the United Way of Forsyth County continues to fight poverty in our community, the EITC is very important; just last year $51.6 million in refunds came back into our community”

The passage of this legislation is a major win for the United Way network, and for millions of low and moderate income Americans.

VITA started 50 years ago, and since 2008 it has been classified as a demonstration pilot program – requiring an authorization from Congress every year. Now, the program will be permanently authorized.

380 United Ways fund, operate, or support VITA programs in their communities. And the VITA program as a whole prepared returns for 1.3 million people, bringing back $1.9 billion dollars to the pockets of working families in 2018.

Through VITA, IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers help individuals that earn less than $55,000 a year to claim refundable tax credits—the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Recipients of these credits use the boost in income to pay for things like reliable transportation to work, childcare, or groceries. Children in families that receive the EITC tend to better in school, have a better chance of going to college and experience better health outcomes.

60 network leaders, many of whom represent VITA United Ways, were on the Hill on Thursday, June 13th as a part of the United Way Tax Policy Forum and Capitol Hill Day. They were there to advocate for this legislation, and to expand the refundable tax credits for many of the same folks who are VITA clients.

Legislation aimed at making the VITA program permanent has been introduced multiple times over many years. In some cases, those bills passed one chamber of Congress but never made it across the finish line.

By Caitlan Arenas Martinez

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Press Release:  United Way of Forsyth County today announced that 46,354 Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents have saved over $5,000,000.00 on their prescription medications, thanks to its partnership with FamilyWize

For Immediate Release: Winston Salem, NC – June 6 2019 – United Way of Forsyth County today announced that 46,354 Winston Salem, Forsyth County residents have saved over $5,000,000.00 on their prescription medications, thanks to its partnership with FamilyWize, an organization focused on improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. FamilyWize delivers significant savings on prescription medications through its free, easy to use prescription discount card

Through this partnership, the United Way has helped promote the free, easy to use FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, which has helped more than 13 million Americans save more than $1.5 billion on their prescriptions.

“People should never have to choose between putting food on the table or taking their prescription medication,” Cindy Gordineer, United Way of Forsyth county President and CEO. “That’s why we formed a partnership with FamilyWize. Their free prescription discount card can reduce the costs of prescriptions for anyone who uses it. It’s an extremely valuable resource that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, should use.”

The FamilyWize card immediately lowers the cost of prescription medications by an average of 45% percent for people with and without insurance. Just by presenting the FamilyWize card or mobile app at their local pharmacy, people can save on the cost of their medicine, with no strings attached.

“We’re excited to see the people of Winston Salem/Forsyth County realize the benefits of our prescription discount card,” said Vickie Nisbet, Director of Community Relations at FamilyWize. “We hope that they continue to use the card and share it with others, as it can provide a significant savings.”

The Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card can be used by anyone: uninsured, insured, and even people with Medicaid or Medicare. The use of the card is unlimited, does not require any personal information from the user and has no eligibility criteria.

To take advantage of the savings that FamilyWize offers, consumers can print a card from FamilyWize.org, can call 1-866-810-3784 and request a card be mailed to them, or download the free FamilyWize app.

About FamilyWize

Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 13 million Americans live healthier lives by saving them more than $1.5 billion on prescription medications. By aggregating large groups of patients, FamilyWize advocates and negotiates for deep discounts on prescription medications which it then passes on in full to patients. FamilyWize partners with some of the most respected community groups and health care providers in the country, including United Way Worldwide, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, and American Heart Association, among thousands of other community organizations. To use FamilyWize, download our card or mobile app at https://familywize.org/free-prescription-discount-card.

United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

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Press Release: United Way of Forsyth County Announces Day of Action June 21, 2019

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —United Way of Forsyth County Invites the Community to Join in the Day of Action June 21, 2019.

On and around June 21 each year, tens of thousands of people across the globe volunteer to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way’s Day of Action provides opportunities for volunteers, donors and advocates to be part of solutions that make a real difference in people’s lives.

On Friday June 21, from 9am- 3pm, United Way of Forsyth County will work to assist seniors in the Place Matters Neighborhoods with home repairs and landscaping.

Community Engagement Manager Tahja Gaymon notes, “United Way of Forsyth County recognizes there are seniors in our community who do not have the financial means to make the necessary repairs or upkeep for their homes. For this reason, we are organizing volunteers throughout the community who will come together to do home repairs, painting and landscaping for seniors in our Place Matters community. “

Please contact Tahja Gaymon at Tahja.gaymon@uwforsyth.org for more information. To volunteer : https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0a45a8a72fa6ff2-united

For more information about the United Way, visit www.forsythunitedway.org

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Progress to Zero Update

Last week was the State Homeless Conference in Raleigh.  Forsyth County had a strong showing of advocates at the conference, who have all returned refreshed and energized with new ideas and focus.  One strain of conversation that I have heard much about is on Housing Focused Shelter.  
The distillation of the concept is that from the first contact with folks entering the shelter the conversation, the focus should be on connecting to housing, there is a lot to unpack from these sessions which we will be doing as a CoC over the next several months.  What resonated for me in hearing folks talk about the housing focused shelter is that for most of the folks who touch homeless services, shelter is the only or the primary service they access.  If we want to end homelessness, then we must look at how our shelters policies and practices impact the flow of folks in and out of the homeless system.
We now have 19 folks on us by-name list.  The new folks to the list are folks who have either aged into chronicity because they have been waiting so long for a supportive housing placement, or were folks known to us returning from places such as hospitalizations or incarcerations.   This growth in our list is coming not from new people coming to our community, but rather folks we as a system have been interacting with for many months, and in some cases years.  
We have been focused for a long time on the handful of supportive housing resources, both permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing.   We are working with case managers from all of these programs on finding new housing opportunities, on reducing the length of time from program entry to housing move-in and reducing length of stay in programs.  These case managers are working hard at housing folks and at continuous improvement. Their hard work has made good progress not just for their clients, but for our homeless services system.  
But to end chronic homelessness we have to not just keep working on improving our supportive housing muscles, but we also need to look at the front end of our system including both shelter and street outreach.   We need to develop, as a CoC, the muscles to help people develop and strengthen their connections to their natural support networks, mainstream resources (meaning anything not specifically for homeless people) and self-sufficiency skills  so that there are other doors out of homelessness then the few supportive housing slots available.
Homeless service providers are not in this work alone, and while we are the drivers of the work to end chronic homelessness, we are not the only organizations responsible for improving health, housing and wellness outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.  As I mentioned above, significant connections exist between homelessness, incarceration, hospitalizations, and mental health & substance abuse treatment services.     In connecting with some of these systems we have made great progress over the last 10 years, but if the in-flow to our chronically homeless by name list is any indication, we still have a long way to go to make sure that we are creating the systems and relationships across our county that support our goal of ending chronic homelessness.
Peace!
Andrea
Andrea S. Kurtz