Help for Hard Times

The United Way of Allen County held a press conference this afternoon to roll out their new program, Help for Hard Times.

Press release from the United Way:

United Way Sets Up “Help for Hard Times” Fund to Assist with Increase in Requests for Basic Social Services

United Way of Allen County is asking local residents to donate to a new “Help for Hard Times” fund, set up recently to meet the increasing needs for basic services such as food, shelter and health care.

Thanks to a $100,000 gift from the American Electric Power (AEP) Foundation provided through Indiana Michigan Power and a $50,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, all individual donations to the fund will be matched three to one. For example, a $5 gift will become a $15 gift. This year, an extra allocation of $119,416 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s emergency food and shelter program will also be distributed through United Way; United Way is designating these dollars for the “Help for Hard Times” fund and will use the money to assist local food banks.

One hundred percent of all dollars raised will pay for direct services to local residents who are struggling. Services will include food, rent and mortgage assistance, medical and dental assistance and other critical services. The services will be provided by Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Matthew 25, Neighborhood Health Clinics, the Salvation Army and several food pantries, including those supported by Associated Churches Food Bank and Community Harvest Food Bank.

As economic conditions worsen, more and more residents are seeking services from local agencies. “We know that people in our community are feeling the effects of the downturn in the economy,” said Helen J. Murray, president and chief operating officer for Indiana Michigan Power, an operating unit of AEP. “We are pleased to join with United Way, the Community Foundation and individuals to help our neighbors in need.”

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Allen County’s June 2009 unemployment rate is 11 percent, up from 5.4 percent a year ago; in June 2007 it was 4.7 percent. Examples of increasing needs include the following:

  • The number of uninsured residents in Allen and surrounding counties is increasing; Neighborhood Health Clinics’ percentage of uninsured patients went from 69.3 in 2007 to 73.1 in 2008. In the first four months of 2009, Neighborhood Health Clinics provided 12,696 medical visits compared to 11,554 for the same period in 2008 (9.9 percent increase). The clinic provided 3,727 dental visits in the first four months of 2009 and 3,159 for the same period in 2008 (18 percent increase).
  • The Salvation Army is seeing noticeable increases in demand for food assistance. In the first five months of 2008, 409 families or 1,087 individuals were served compared with the first five months of 2009, when 890 families or 2,799 individuals were served.
  • Calls to United Way’s regional 2-1-1 Call Center have increased by approximately 400 each month over last year. In 2008, United Way of Allen County’s 2-1-1 Center took 36,595 calls – a 22.3 percent increase over 2007. Most of the calls are related to basic needs like food, clothing, shelter, and financial assistance for rent and utilities.

In order to help meet the increasing needs, local residents are encouraged to visit Visitors are asked to “Give 5, Tell 5,” or give at least $5 through Pay Pal and provide United Way with the email addresses of five friends so that they can learn about the fundraising effort. Email addresses will only be used for the “Help for Hard Times” fundraising effort and will be kept completely confidential by United Way of Allen County.

AFW Interview with Jerry Peterson, President and CEO of the United Way of Allen County


Footage of the press conference



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