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

Progress to Zero Update

Today there are still the same 18 folks on the by name list, and 17 folks on the not-by-name list. 13 people on the BNL are matched into permanent supportive housing, two of whom are on the brink of signing a lease! The average length of time in the PSH program without being housed is 63 days.
One common refrain, as we work with case managers and other people working to help folks get housed is there is not enough housing. In response, the housing team at United Way is organizing a Housing Connections event scheduled for July 11—particularly for folks in a supportive housing program who are still looking for units. As details are firmed up, we will let you know.
If you are interested in helping with this event, please let me know.
Andrea Kurtz

Press Release: Giving USA 2019 Report Released; Americans Gave $427.71 Billion to Charity in 2018 Amid Complex Year for Charitable Giving

 

WINSTON-SALEM, NC —Giving USA 2019 Report Shows Americans gave $427.71 billion to Charity in 2018 Amid Complex Year for Charitable Giving

The Giving USA report, released Tuesday, said individual giving fell by 1.1%, from $295 billion in 2017 to $292 billion last year. It ended a four-year streak of increases, and was the largest decline since a 6.1% drop in 2009.

Total charitable giving rose 0.7% measured in current dollars over the revised total of $424.74 billion contributed in 2017. Adjusted for inflation, total giving declined 1.7%…”

From the report:  “…A number of competing factors in the economic and public policy environments may have affected donors’ decisions in 2018, shifting some previous giving patterns. Many economic variables that shape giving, such as personal income, had relatively strong growth, while the stock market decline in late 2018 may have had a dampening effect. The policy environment also likely influenced some donors’ behavior. One important shift in the 2018 giving landscape is the drop in the number of individuals and households who itemize various types of deductions on their tax returns.

This shift came in response to the federal tax policy change that doubled the standard deduction. More than 45 million households itemized deductions in 2016. Numerous studies suggest that number may have dropped to approximately 16 to 20 million households in 2018, reducing an incentive for charitable giving…”

United Way Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “ The 2019 Giving USA report supports trends that many in philanthropy are seeing.  Charitable giving is changing, becoming more complex and each dollar is more difficult to raise.  Donors are more discerning than ever about seeking results in the non-profit sector and their giving is following positive outcomes.  This philanthropic environment requires non-profits, including United Way of Forsyth County, to evaluate every dollar for both effectiveness and efficiency to deliver maximum value.  Donors deserve nothing less.”

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.

 

 

 

Read the full report here

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 Will Attend Hill Day and Advocate for Increasing the EITC

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — United Way of Forsyth County Will Attend Hill Day and Advocate for Increasing the EITC

On June 13th, over 60 United Way advocates will storm 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. While the EITC is one of the most effective tools we have to help working families keep their heads above water, it currently excludes millions of workers.

The Tax Policy Forum and Hill Day is an opportunity for United Ways from across the country to travel to United Way Worldwide and dive deep into the network’s top tax policy priorities: the Charitable Deduction, Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

This event will feature speakers and subject matter experts about each of these leading policy issues, and participants will have the opportunity to put their knowledge into action through application workshops and the Hill Day. During the Hill Day event on June 13, participants will meet with their Members of Congress to advocate for the network policy priorities.

United Way of Forsyth County Chief Impact Officer, Debbie Wilson will be visiting the offices of Representative Virginia Fox, Senator Burr and Senator Tillis. Wilson notes, “ We are excited to advocate for increasing the EITC.  As the United Way of Forsyth County continues to fight poverty in our community, we know that the EITC is very important. More than 5 million American workers are taxed into poverty, largely because they are excluded from the pro-work, anti-poverty impacts of the EITC. We’re encouraging supporters to join in advocating for the EITC by visiting:  https://www.unitedway.org/get-involved/take-action/stand-up-for-working-americans “.

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: Leadership Winston Salem Class of 2019 Graduates Are Honored 

For Immediate Release:  Leadership Winston Salem Class of 2019 Graduates Are Honored

On June 6, the 2019 Class of Leadership Winston Salem celebrated the completion of their program with a graduation ceremony at the Millennium Center.

United Way of Forsyth County’s Senior Director of Engagement , Amanda Rosemann, is a graduate of this year’s class.

Leadership Winston-Salem’s Flagship Program is designed to ignite community leaders with a mission of educating, connecting and energizing leaders to serve and improve the community. Likened to a “community MBA,” participants benefit through active engagement, attending one Program Day each month and working in Action Learning teams to address an actual dilemma faced by a local agency.

The program challenges participants to increase their personal and collective capacity to transform the community through civic engagement, servant leadership and building social capital. Components include:

  • Informative sessions with community leaders
  • Experiential group activities
  • Relationship building/networking opportunities
  • Opportunities for honoring all aspects of diversity
  • Action Learning Projects addressing community needs
  • Emphasis on servant leadership

United Way President and CEO Cindy Gordineer notes, ” As a graduate of LWS’s Insight Program, I know first hand how invaluable LWS is to our community’s growth. The ability to connect leaders with other community leaders and foster collaboration for community improvement, is essential to Winston Salem’s continued growth and development.”

Prior graduates include, United Way of Forsyth County associates, Noelle Stevenson,Campaign Operations Coordinator, Class of 2018 and Charmaine Angino,  Senior Director, Community Planning & Investment, Class of 2017.

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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: $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries

For Immediate Release- WINSTON-SALEM, NC : $50,000 Weston Award for Nonprofits Awarded to Samaritan Ministries
On June 5, 2019 at the Weston Award Banquet, Samaritan Ministries was honored for their leadership and excellence in non profit management and awarded $50,000.
The Joel and Claudette Weston Award has honored and recognized leadership and excellence in nonprofit management at local organizations for more than 30 years.  Joel A. Weston, Jr. was a senior executive at the Hanes Companies and an active member of the Winston-Salem community.  He served as president of the United Way of Forsyth County Board from 1980-1982. Joel believed strongly that nonprofit organizations should be well run and efficient and he introduced many innovative programs designed to strengthen charitable organizations and the community.   He passed away unexpectedly in 1984.
The Weston Award Endowment was founded in 1985 at The Winston-Salem Foundation by family and friends of Joel A. Weston as a way to honor his vision and dedication to the community.   In 1985 the Weston Award for Nonprofit Excellence was established to recognize local human service agencies that are performing at peak efficiency.  Today, Joel’s widow, Claudette Weston, continues the family tradition of community involvement and philanthropy through her efforts on numerous boards and organizations and as a member of the Weston Award Committee.
All applications are reviewed by a 16 member Weston Award committee.  In addition, the committee hears an oral presentation by representatives of each applicant agency.  Site visits are included in the review process if necessary.   The winner is presented with the prestigious and much coveted bi-annual award, and beginning in 2019, a grant award to the organization of $50,000. 

The Weston Award recognizes, affirms, encourages and financially supports the best- run charitable organization in Forsyth County as selected every other year by the Weston Award Committee.  The Award is a comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of nonprofit management. The award promotes efficiency, competence, fiscal integrity, innovation and program effectiveness.  Nonprofit management excellence in turn equates to a community that can better help its most vulnerable citizens, maximize philanthropy and enhance quality of life for all.

“Joel and I always believed in giving back to the community. The spirit of this award is to honor non-profits or social services organizations that enhance lives, but do so with the most efficiency,” said Claudette Weston. 

United Way of Forsyth County President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer, notes, ” We were very fortunate to have Joel serve as our Board Chair and we are honored to be a part of the Weston Award as it supports his and Claudette’s vision and drive for excellence. “

 “The Joel Weston Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management had a tremendous impact on me as a leader and on the agency that I represented.  I can’t say enough about the good that it has accomplished.” Richard Gottlieb, President emeritus, Senior Services

For more information on the Weston Award: Claudette Weston, cweston@westoninc.com

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 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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