Despite the economic downturn and increases in unemployment, the people of central Illinois continue to build a stronger community by supporting the Heart of Illinois United Way—raising more than $8.6 million in 2009 for local health and human care services.
This community-wide effort funds programs that help more than 1,100 people every day throughout Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties. Within the last year, many of the United Way’s 47 partner agencies have dealt with up to 30-percent funding cuts from the state, along with their own fundraising losses. United Way funding is critical to ensure that vital health and human care services continue to be available for residents of our community.
As in any economic downturn, the demand for programs that provide basic services such as food, clothing and shelter have experienced significant increases—including demand at area food pantries that has increased upwards of 50 percent. Over the last two years, the Human Service Center’s information and referral helpline, funded by the United Way, has seen drastic increases in requests for help with housing assistance, dental needs, prescriptions and legal aid.
The United Way is working with its partner agencies to address these and other needs facing the most vulnerable in our community. The United Way helps provide over 1,000 meals every day and has strengthened collaborations between area pantries and food banks. In 2009, the United Way’s Day of Sharing food drive brought in 60,000 pounds of food, resulting in an additional 40,000 meals for people in need.
With homelessness on the rise, the United Way supports programs that provide emergency shelter for over 1,800 people in central Illinois and residential programs that continue to build self-reliance.
To help with critical healthcare needs, the United Way supports community clinics and counseling programs. At Heartland Community Health Clinic, United Way funding has been vital to the expansion of dental services to at-risk populations—including children, since it’s estimated that 30 percent of Illinois third graders miss school because of untreated cavities. In 2009, the United Way partnered with FamilyWize, a nonprofit organization that helps individuals save money on prescription medications. Since June, the program has helped more than 2,000 people save an average of 25 percent on much-needed prescriptions.
For people needing help with legal services, the United Way funds programs at Prairie State Legal Services that help low-income families and seniors find their voices in civil legal cases.
“Live United” is more than just a tagline—it captures what it means to live in a community that supports each other in times of need. In 2009, the Heart of Illinois United Way’s base of support increased with more than 65 new employee campaigns and corporate gifts, and 79 organizations increased their contributions by more than 10 percent. By working together, the people of central Illinois have shown just how strong we are at facing challenges and ultimately, being a part of the solution. iBi