The United Way of Henry County & Martinsville embraces flexibility as the organization looks to improve the economic outlook and stability of low-to-moderate-income individuals throughout Martinsville and Henry County.
The Harvest Foundation recently invested $600,000 over three years in United Way’s “Building a Better Tomorrow” project, a continuum of unique services and opportunities that provide a pathway to financial stability for vulnerable members of the community, and support for those individuals in their efforts to purchase a home.
“We are excited to partner with United Way on the continued growth of their upward mobility efforts,” said Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer at The Harvest Foundation. “Our community is only as strong as each individual who calls MHC home, and the reality is that a percentage of our community don’t always have resources to meet their most basic needs. Building a Better Tomorrow recognizes that each individual has a unique story with diverse needs and challenges, and it meets them where they are on their journey towards stability, financial security, and building a better future.”
Agee added that this project directly aligns with The Harvest Foundation’s strategic plan priority of creating a resilient and diverse economy with the vision that everyone shares in the promise of a healthy and prosperous future.
Programs within Building a Better Tomorrow differ in intensity and who they support. For example, individuals on the first step toward financial stability may enroll in financial education services. These may include workshops on creating a budget, understanding credit scores, setting smart money goals, prioritizing debt repayments, and identity protection.
If an individual faces significant financial barriers, they may enroll in the evidence-based Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World program, an intensive 16-week training course designed to make significant progress toward self-sufficiency.
United Way also begins financial education programs at the high school level through the annual Dollars and Sense Reality Fair, an event exposing high school seniors to the costs associated with life. Given a budget and a career, students must work through scenarios such as budgeting for savings, retirement, vacations, and paying for housing, utilities, transportation, and groceries.
“Creating inclusive systems that provide opportunities for the advancement of every member of our community is incredibly important,” said Philip Wenkstern, executive director of United Way of Henry County & Martinsville. “Programs and services supported through this grant have a proven ability to create positive change in the lives of some of the most vulnerable residents of Martinsville and Henry County. We truly appreciate the Harvest Foundation’s recognition of this important need in our community and the support they have provided to help the United Way continue the fight for the financial stability of all local residents.”
Wenkstern added that to truly move the needle for these residents, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
“Services offered through this project work to meet the specific needs and situations of each participant,” Wenkstern said. “These services are proven to provide an avenue of upward mobility. Regardless of the particular circumstances an individual faces, these programs will be available to support their economic progress toward a stable and prosperous future.”