(From the United Way of Hancock County)
Vulnerable populations across Hancock County will be safeguarded by the allocation of nearly $2 million by United Way of Hancock County.
Funding will be distributed among 19 local programs focusing on the areas of championing children’s success, fighting hunger, promoting safety and health, supporting safe housing and fostering financial stability. These priority areas were identified by a team of diverse volunteers from across the community in a grant review process that is repeated yearly as part of United Way’s commitment to regularly assessing the community’s changing needs and responding accordingly.
“Changes in the economy, coupled with the expiration of certain state and federal safety nets put into place during the pandemic, have impacted working families and retirees in our community,” said United Way of Hancock County CEO Angela DeBoskey. “These 19 local programs deliver vital and basic services that offer hope and emergency help to 1 in 4 vulnerable people.”
The funds being distributed were raised through United Way’s 2023 Annual Campaign, which engages individual donors and retirees, as well as employees through workplace philanthropy. The 2023 fall campaign raised a total of $2 million.
“It is an honor to contribute to our community in such a meaningful way, and we express our sincere gratitude to all of the Difference Makers who join us in these efforts. Thank you to our fundraising team, individual donors and workplace campaign partners for your contributions. You are a lifeline to those in Hancock County who are struggling to meet basic needs,” DeBoskey said.
-Championing children’s success
Many of the 2024 funded programs cross categories within the priority areas. Those falling under United Way’s Vulnerable Child Initiative will receive a total of $353,000 in support of advocacy, prevention and crisis response efforts designed to protect kids and put them on a path to success.
Children’s funding will be distributed among CASA/GAL of Hancock County, which trains volunteers to give youth a voice in the court system; the Center for Safe and Healthy Children’s forensic interview program following a report of child abuse; child victim services programs offered by Open Arms Domestic Violence & Rape Crisis Services; equine-assisted therapy for youth through Challenged Champions Equestrian Center; Children’s Mentoring Connection of Hancock County’s youth mentoring programs; Scouting and Exploring programs offered through Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of Western Ohio; and the Salvation Army’s summer enrichment program.
Food security programs have been allocated $347,000. United Way’s grant review team strategically increased funding in this area in response to rising grocery prices and a demonstrated increase in individuals and families seeking help through local food assistance programs.
Food security funds will support the YMCA’s Feed-A-Child program, which administers the summer lunch program and provides weekend meal bags for students; vouchers for individuals and families in need of supplemental food through Christian Clearing House; West Ohio Food Bank’s distributions to Hancock County food pantries; and food programs at the Salvation Army.
-Promoting safety and health
Safety and health allocations for 2024 total $310,000. Supported programs are designed to strengthen Hancock County residents’ physical and mental health.
Funds distributed for safety and health will support financial assistance through Cancer Patient Services, an organization serving cancer patients living or working in Hancock County; adult victim services through Open Arms; and disaster services programs though the American Red Cross.
-Supporting safe housing
Recognizing that safe, affordable housing has a direct impact on an individual or family’s overall wellbeing, $245,000 has been awarded to the family shelter and independence programs at Hope House. Both programs are aimed at helping people who are homeless or who are facing homelessness.
-Fostering financial stability
Programs working to deliver financial stability and independence will receive $60,000 in 2024.
Financial stability funds will support HHWP Community Action Commission’s Hancock Area Transportation Services (HATS) program, which provides rides to employment, medical appointments and more; and United Way of Hancock County’s free income tax preparation service called VITA.
Additional funding will continue to help United Way deliver programs like the Halt Hunger Initiative. United Way’s volunteer center, Volunteers United, placed 12,500 volunteer hours in 2023.
All money raised in Hancock County stays local to support vital services, unless otherwise designated by the donor. United Way of Hancock County regularly seeks state and federal grants to help bolster funds raised locally and to allow the organization to use campaign dollars most effectively.
Visit uwhancock.org to donate or to learn more about the United Way’s mission and work.