Jasmine was living in a homeless shelter, working temp jobs to support herself and her twin boys. A group of United Way partner agencies, including WMCAT and Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, helped her launch her career and become a homeowner. Jasmine's story is a powerful illustration of the impact we can make when United Way donors and partner agencies work together to empower people in our community.
When James was younger, his mom worked several jobs to support the family, leaving James to juggle the demands of school and the care of his younger siblings. After high school he worked as a home health aide. While it was far from his dream job, James worked hard, volunteering for extra shifts, filling in for coworkers, taking on extra duties – largely so he could support his siblings. But James also had bigger dreams.
Joseph and his family arrived in Grand Rapids from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2018. As the school year approached, he began attending the summer literacy program at the Refugee Education Center, one of Heart of West Michigan United Way’s partner agencies.
These days, Ann attends Sparta Senior Center four days a week. Her sense of purpose and belonging have been restored. Recently, she remarked, “I feel alive and happy.”
Though the job can be difficult, MathCorps member Dan Graham finds satisfaction in seeing his students improve over the course of the year. “Before Christmas, the principal pulled me into one of the fourth-grade teachers’ rooms and she showed me how the students were progressing, and, for the MathCorps students, they were seeing large gains, from 10 to 60 points,” Dan says. “It was awesome to be able to see the difference we were making here in the classroom.”
Our partner agency Camp Blodgett takes Grand Rapids-area middle school students into the natural environment to help them discover a passion for STEM subjects.
Each year, Chris and her fellow IRS-certified volunteers help thousands of people who earn $55,000 or less file for free. Here in the Grand Rapids-area, the service is coordinated by the Kent County Tax Credit Coalition, a program of Heart of West Michigan United Way.
When arctic temperatures and relentless snowfall plunged Michigan into a deep freeze this week, our 211 team continued to report to work, taking calls from people across the state who needed help. Calls like the one that came in on Tuesday from a mother of three in Ionia County.
A group of United Way partner agencies worked together to give Anna Cater the confidence to realize her potential and land her dream job.
In many circles, Irene is known as the “neighborhood mom,” because she has worked hard throughout her life to care for others before herself. After a stroke, she lost the capability to cook for herself and even the ability to feel hungry.
Two weeks after adopting their twin grandchildren, Deb Sall’s husband lost his job of twenty-three years. While adoption subsidies kept her family from being homeless, they left little room for the family to purchase food and no way to plan for emergencies. Because of you, The Sall family found help at the time they needed it most.
Like so many young families, Latrice, Terry, and their two kids had a life full of activity. Their older child was busy with school and sleepovers, while the younger one was just starting to walk, and both Latrice and Terry worked full time. Life changed when Terry was involved in an accident and needed emergency surgery. Terry was out of work for nearly a year, and eventually, he lost his job. The family went from two incomes to one, and quickly spiraled into homelessness.
"CASA gives kids like me and my brothers and sisters a chance to be heard and a chance to have a say in what happens to us. CASA gives us one caring adult we can count on. Having a CASA to speak up for what was best for me truly changed my life."
As underemployed parents with four children and one grandparent at home, Kara and her family made slightly too much to qualify for public assistance yet struggled to feed their family with a monthly food budget of $85.
Whoever you are, when disaster strikes, you need help. Recently, a young mother with two toddlers lost nearly everything in a house fire. She and her children escaped the fire unharmed but with nothing except the pajamas they were wearing. As she watched their home burn, she feared for her small family. Had they just become homeless and alone?
Families with children are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, making up almost 50% of those who are experiencing homelessness in Kent County. Family Promise partners with families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless by helping them get back on their feet so they can create a stable lifestyle for their children.