Learning about United Way’s financial stability program in a normal year would make anybody feel good. Learning about the COVID-responsive parts of this program, supported by Truist, is like drinking a tall glass of cold water on a scorching day. United Way can help you or someone you know in Birmingham and anybody who would like to help can get involved. Keep reading for all the details.
How United Way helps people get or stay on their feet in normal times
Let’s cut to the chase. If you or someone you know in the community is having a tough time, have them call 2-1-1. This is United Way’s 24/7 hotline, and it’s the first port of call for anyone who needs help. Specially-trained volunteers will direct you to the right place, whether it’s the Crisis Center’s services you need, help getting your financial house in order or something else.
Here are three key strategies United Way’s Financial Stability Partnership employs in the Greater Birmingham area and across Alabama:
- Teaching financial empowerment skills.
- Promoting workforce development.
- Helping low-income people acquire stabilizing assets—like a house.
Working together with more than 100 partners across the state, United Way helps hard-working families become and remain economically secure.
Here are just a few of the initiatives and programs that fall under this Partnership:
- Free Tax Preparation
- Family Stability Services
- Financial & Housing Education
- Individual Development Account
- Foreclosure Prevention Partnership
Meet Truist + find out why partnering with United Way is a no-brainer for them
Truist was formed from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust, and is now the sixth-largest bank in the US. Meet Mary Beth Young and learn more about Truist’s philanthropic efforts or get to know Josh Petty and what he loves about this big bank with a small-town feel.
In the meantime, I urge you to watch this incredible video put together by United Way and Truist (above). Then you’ll see where Truist’s heart is, and why they are devoted to working with United Way.
Find out what the United Way-Truist partnership is making possible for friends + neighbors in the Greater Birmingham area
As you can imagine, COVID has brought about a slew of special financial needs for many people, so we spoke with Doug Horst, Director of Financial Stability Services at United Way of Central Alabama to learn more.
He said that Truist provided a grant of $50,000 to United Way specifically to provide financial assistance for hourly workers who lost wages in hard-hit industries for one of two reasons:
- They got COVID and had to take time off work.
- Their company cut back hours or downsized staff entirely as a result of COVID-19.
This of course included people working in restaurants, hospitality and retail, whose livelihoods took an immediate hit with the pandemic.
The money helps United Way provide financial assistance for rent, utilities, mortgages or other options to help ensure that people are safely and affordably housed.
The resources United Way brings to the table
To address these community needs, they draw on partnerships with 80 agencies and programs throughout Central Alabama and serve more than 70,000 individuals in need annually—in non-COVID times.
What does this mean for this moment in history? United Way has the networks and the know-how to get things done.
According to Horst, they’ve spent just over $20,000, and over half of that was in the month of October alone, when the needs picked up. Much of this help has been quite small, but to the recipient, it means the world. Even if it’s a gift of $2-300 for individual bills, the money is able to impact a lot of people.
Need help? Call 2-1-1
If you or someone you know needs help, call 2-1-1. The person who answers the phone will gather information and make the referral to the appropriate program or service. Horst and his team then read through the details to make sure the request is a good fit.
Anybody who gets help through this grant is also referred to United Way’s ongoing Financial Stability programs. Budget, credit, housing or other help is offered at no cost by United Way’s full-time staff who are experts in these areas.
United Way is in this for the long haul, and support from companies like Truist has allowed them to ramp up critical services at a critical time.
How + why Truist partners with United Way
Truist, like other United Way partners, gives at two major levels. The first is at the corporate level, through grants such as the COVID-19 relief partnership. The second is at the individual level—meaning, employees make their own individual contributions to parts of United Way they feel most passionate about.
We spoke to two individual givers to find out what motivates them. This is what they said:
“Many people do not understand that their giving stays predominantly in the area they live. Multiple agencies assist with many different problems the citizens are experiencing.
When you donate to United Way, you never know who you might be helping—neighbors, family, or even yourself!! I have donated to United Way for years and will always do so. It is so rewarding helping those in need.”Jeffrey K, Truist
“I’ve been a United Way supporter since 1987. I believe in the mission of fighting for positive, community impact and improving the lives of others through quality education, financial stability, better health, and access to services. I have witnessed the impact of United Way firsthand and am honored to continue the partnership with this great work.”Burton McDonald, Regional President, Truist
How you as an individual can get involved
If you want to access United Way’s personal financial education, just look for monthly workshops on their website.
Topics include subjects such as the following:
- Fraud + scams
- Homeownership 101
- Small business ownership
- Holiday budgeting + spending
And if you want to get involved as a volunteer, check out these previous articles we’ve done featuring United Way.
These events have passed, but will give you an idea of some of the kinds of ways you can get involved with United Way in the future.
- Paper Doll and United Way just held the most creative fundraiser ever
- United Way needs almost 100 volunteers for its Visiting Allocations Team. I just signed up. Will you?
- Seniors, individuals with disabilities + caregivers have a lifeline—1-800-AGE-LINE
- United Way’s 2-1-1 has financial resources available if you have been impacted by COVID-19
Want to support a company that prioritizes our Birmingham community? Check out Truist today on their website and follow them on Instagram.