Press Release: Statement On Gun Violence In America

PRESS RELEASE

Statement On Gun Violence In America

 

Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. Over the course of two weeks, these communities have become yet another footnote in a history linked by the devastation of gun violence, not on the battlefield but in our neighborhoods and communities. If your life has not been personally touched by these incidents, don’t be complacent. We are ALL impacted and are slowly being forever changed as a nation if we don’t say ‘enough!’

Our entire nation is on edge but will we just move on or stand up as a people and change this course? Children fear going to school and have to endure active shooter drills in their classrooms. In Times Square, people started to flee and take shelter after a motorcycle backfired. Many are afraid to congregate at festivals, places of worship, shopping malls, and concerts – places that have become common targets. No one feels safe anywhere and the sad truth is — they shouldn’t.

Our nation is blessed with community-based human services organizations that understand what brain science tells us – that the toll violence takes on our children and families impacts everyone, whether a direct victim or not. These organizations are often those who see firsthand what trauma resulting from violence does to people through the work they do to support first responders, families of victims and those facing horrific lifetime injuries. We know from brain science research the impact of toxic stress that can result from prolonged exposure to violence or adversity. Prolonged toxic stress can bring about chemical changes in the brain, which can lead to long term stress-related diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, suicide, mental illness, addiction and even cancer. In other words, the crisis we face is a public health crisis that requires a comprehensive public health response.

We understand that there is no one cause for the immenseness of the challenge and the solutions are multiple. Some have suggested that this is purely a mental health issue, which flies in the face of fact. According to the American Psychological Association, people with serious mental illness commit only three percent of violent crimes.

That is why our organizations are calling for a range of immediate actions to ensure that mass shootings and gun violence do not become our new normal. These actions include:

  • We need common sense gun laws.
  • We need to demand more from our political leaders. Historically we know that it is times like these when our leaders should be calling our nation to its better self. We need to hold one another accountable to building, not eroding, the fabric of civil society that Americans have enjoyed and set as an example to the world. The divisive rhetoric that has become so commonplace is eroding our institutions and tearing our nation apart, not just nationally but in our neighborhoods. Words matter. When political leaders use demeaning and dehumanizing terms in reference to racial, ethnic and other groups of people, they are dividing us and making it okay for violent individuals to act out their hatred and anger in horrible ways.
  • We all need to love each other more. America’s strength has always been its diversity. Families today are more isolated and have fewer meaningful connections with, neighbors, coworkers, and members of their communities. We need to recognize everyone’s humanity in our daily lives, as we walk down the street, are standing in line, in our offices or shopping. We need to remember that love is at the heart of the American spirit and the values that have served as a beacon to so many around the world throughout our nation’s history.

As human services community-based organizations we do so much more than provide services – we build the foundational supports that enable individuals, families and communities to be resilient and to flourish. It’s time for our network to come together and raise our voices to call on our nation’s leaders to take a public health approach to gun violence – one that puts prevention, and the health and welfare of our nation’s people above special interests that seek to divide us.

There is no time to waste. We all share in humanity with one another. We are all someone’s child, someone’s relative, someone’s friend, someone’s neighbor. We need to understand that the solutions are not just for others to act on, we have to take personal responsibility to love one another more and to show care and compassion. We must no longer sit back but speak out, act, mobilize and do everything in our power to stop these senseless tragedies.

 

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: 2019 Annual Campaign Chairs Announced

For Immediate Release: 2019 Annual Campaign Chairs Announced

United Way of Forsyth County is pleased to welcome this year’s chair, retired Reynolds American Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, Mark Holton; and honorary chair, current Reynolds American President and CEO, Ricardo Oberlander. United Way of Forsyth County thanks Steve Berlin of Kilpatrick Townsend for all of his efforts in leading our 2018 community campaign.

President and CEO, Cindy Gordineer notes, “It takes a special person to be a United Way Campaign Chair. They are the advocates who dedicate their time, energy, and talents to making our community a better place for every person who calls Forsyth County their home. We are honored to have Mark Holton  as our 2019 Chair and Ricardo Oberlander as our honorary co-chair and thank them for their commitment to our community ”

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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 NC 211, 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 collabo-rating partners are all working to create a Stable, Educated, Healthy, and Economically Mobile Forsyth County. To learn more about United Way’s work in our community or how to get involved, please visit www.ForsythUnitedWay.org.

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: 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.