Together, We Can Make Their Future Brighter
BY CHRISTINE ROBERE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNITED WAY OF THE LAKESHORE
Our world looks different than anyone imagined a few years ago. Whether it’s because of the war in Ukraine, COVID’s economic impact or inflation – it’s a challenging time.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the most vulnerable – including low-income ethnic and racial minorities, the youngest and oldest in under-resourced communities, and anyone who was barely getting by before – are struggling more than ever.
United Way is stepping up to respond, as we always do. We’re helping people deal with immediate needs. But we’re also helping communities recover – and rebuild. We envision a strong, resilient Muskegon where everyone can thrive.
Here’s what we’re tackling right now.
Childcare. We are so much closer to removing the barrier of childcare for our working families. The Tri-Share Childcare pilot program was launched in Muskegon earlier this year with Goodwill Industries. It has now extended to five surrounding counties. This program splits the cost of quality childcare between the family, their employer, and the state. The Y Learning Center was opened last June to serve infants through school-aged children to provide a safe and nurturing environment. This center is state of the art and has provided much needed care to children.
Community Outreach and Understanding. Since 2014, United Way of the Lakeshore and the United For ALICE has shed light on the everyday struggles of households that are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). The ALICE in Focus Research Series takes this data to a new level, spotlighting the struggles of people in specific ALICE populations, including children, people with disabilities, and military veterans. The ALICE in Focus dashboards and research briefs allow you to break down the data on these groups by race/ethnicity, disability status, living arrangements, number of workers in the household, and much more. It's a new lens on specific populations in financial hardship — with a level of detail that can help drive meaningful change.
Youth Success. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program serves over 5000 children in our area by sending a book a month in the mail to children up to the age of five. Muskegon expanded the opportunity for preschool for our littlest learners through the new PreK for All program launched last summer and supported by local businesses. STEM programming in afterschool programs in Whitehall, Montague, Muskegon Heights, and Orchard View continues with Lights On Afterschool.
But we have so much more to do. Our community is struggling with:
Employment. Removing barriers for those who want to work, connecting businesses with the local labor force, and retention of current employees.
Mental Health and Well Being. In Michigan, nearly 40 percent of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression as of February 2021, and 119,000 children ages 12-17 have depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Housing. In 2021, Muskegon County had 492 individuals that experienced homelessness. Of these individuals, 47% were white, 42% were black, and 22% were living with a disability. (Information from the Muskegon County Homeless Continuum of Care).
Together, we can offer local solutions that will make a difference in Muskegon. Together, we can make life better for those who need help the most right now. Join us today and get involved through volunteering, the Community Campaign (kicking off September 9), or advocating for our hardworking families at UnitedWayLakeshore.org.
United Way of the Lakeshore is uniting to inspire change and build thriving communities. Our Bold Goal – 10,000 more working families meet their basic needs by 2025. For more information, contact United Way of the Lakeshore at (231) 722-3134. Learn more about United Way of the Lakeshore at UnitedWayLakeshore.org, like the organization on Facebook and receive up to date information from Twitter at twitter.com/uwlakeshore.