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United Way of the Big Bend puts $60,000 into Gadsden County programs

Over $60,000 is coming to various programs that aid Gadsden County families by offering resources for healthcare, housing, education, and more for lower-income families.

According to the United Way, the organization’s board approved $1.89 million in funding that will be dispersed to a total of eight North Florida counties, including $68,478 that will be coming to Gadsden County.

According to United Way Chairman Dr. Jim Murdaugh, all of the programs receiving funding address the United Way of the Big Bend’s priorities of housing, early learning, safety net, health and mental health, and skills development.

In addition, these programs focus on those living in poverty and the ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population to help stabilize families on the edge of poverty.

“This level of community support provides hope for those struggling to make ends meet and is aligned with truly helping to end the cycle of poverty,” added Murdaugh. “Our focus on supporting programs that produce measurable outcomes is also a way for current and future donors to see the vast needs and how their contributions change lives in our region.”

In Gadsden County, the $68,478 will be distributed as follows:

•  $3,000 to Gadsden Housing – A program of Big Bend Habitat for Humanity Inc. – A volunteer-based construction program providing simple, decent housing for individuals and families living in substandard housing requiring prospective homeowners to complete 400 sweat equity hours prior to homeownership with the goal of changing lives and communities through homeownership.

• $25,000 to Great Futures Start Here – A program of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend that addresses the needs of affordability and quality childcare and education, promoting educational attainment, and skills development for teens necessary to meet future employment needs and secure self-sustaining jobs, and comprehensive family support and assistance. 

•  $3,500 to Healthy Families Gadsden – A program of Brehon Institute for Family Services Inc. which is a part of Healthy Families of Florida begun in 1999; a community-based home visiting program providing prenatal services offered to families in-home for up to five years where trained staff help families identify their needs and goals focusing on early learning goals for the child.

• $10,000 to Childcare Tuition Assistance – An Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region, Inc. program that provides tuition assistance to young children that allows them to be in a safe, conducive learning environment to prepare them to enter the school system. The program allows parents to work knowing their children are in a positive educational environment.

• $3,000 to Food Bank Operations – A program with America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend that meets the short-term nutritional needs of the 10,864 (23.6 percent) hungry, food-insecure people in Gadsden County, including 3,800 (37.7 percent) children. Food assistance can also help families to pay for other expenses such as medicines, school expenses, rent, and utilities. 

•  $2,000 to Disaster Services – A program of the American National Red Cross to provide immediate help and relief to those affected by a disaster and filling a gap by providing free disaster preparedness, immediate relief and recovery services and meeting basic emergency, mental, and health services needs alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies.

• $4,645 to Access to Independence – a program of Center for Independent Living of North Florida Inc. which targets low-income persons who experience temporary or long-term disability challenges that directly impact their ability to meet their most basic needs: bathing, toileting, and safely entering/leaving their home.

• $3,000 to Senior Volunteer Programs – Programs hosted by Elder Care Services Inc. for 30 years, AmeriCorps Seniors, one of the largest volunteer efforts in the nation which includes three separate programs: Seniors-Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program.

•  $2,500 to Residential Services Program – A Refuge House Inc. program that offers life-saving support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It includes emergency shelter for families, early learning for child victims of abuse, housing safety, and skills development for adult survivors.

•  $1,000 to Helpline 2-1-1 – A 2-1-1 Big Bend, Inc. program that crosses all five strategic priority impact areas of the United Way to connect low income individuals with service providers and to help fill a service gap when clients are not eligible for help from other agencies. It also includes assistance with financial literacy/education services.

• $2,500 to Emergency Social Services Program – A program of The Salvation Army providing relief and reducing the rate of homelessness using both financial assistance and in-kind services allowing families to re-allocate financial resources to meet unexpected needs and remain in their homes.

•  $1,473 to We Care Network – A program of Capital Medical Society Foundation, Inc. provides a measurable improvement to access to specialty healthcare for Gadsden County’s vulnerable, low-income, and uninsured adult patients by coordinating donated specialty medical and specialty dental care improving healthcare disparities and health outcomes.

• $2,000 to Career Readiness and Vocational Training – A program of AMI Kids Tallahassee is a nonprofit after school program providing comprehensive programming to help local students ages 11-17 determine and develop career pathways through vocational education and training, job placement, and support services.

• $1,000 to Employment Readiness Training and Support – A Lighthouse of the Big Bend, Inc. program that helps teens, adults, and seniors who are blind or visually impaired to overcome barriers to employment with job readiness assessment, skill development, supported job search, paid work experience and on-the-job training and support. 

• $3,860 to Getting Ahead/Staying Ahead – A Capital Area Community Action Agency Inc. program that fosters long-term personal and economic development. It includes classes on what low-income people need to do to get ahead and includes pairing mentors from the middle class with participants.

Ashley Hunter –