WHAT WE DO FOR THE COMMUNITY
Since its founding in 2005, the United Sole Sisters has been Stepping Up to Help Others Step Forward — raising over $1.1 million dollars.
In 2015 the Sole Sisters are focusing on the United Way's work supporting programs and services that help those seeking economic security.
In 2014 the Soles Sisters learned about the variety of local mental health initiatives the United Way supports and contributed the funds it raised to this crucial cause.
The United Sole Sisters learned about and supported the United Way's efforts in improving educational services for the very young, young adults and older individuals.
The Sole Sisters chose to learn about and help the United Way strengthen local programs serving Children, Youth & Families in 2012. Every year, the United Way provides support for a number of programs that encourage the well-being of children and youth, helping them to grow up safe, secure and able to reach their potential. Through this initiative, the Sole Sisters learned about and supported a number of programs focused on childcare, education, developmental and recreational opportunities, substance abuse counseling and mental health counseling.
The Sole Sisters were proud to raise and distribute more than $191,000 for "Children, Youth & Families." As a result of their support, hundreds of needy children received scholarships to attend preschool, childcare, and after-school programs, as well as dozens of children received the support of counselors and social workers to help them through a difficult crisis.
The Greenwich United Way identified as a part of the research done during its 2011 Assessment of Human Service Needs, that there is a need for our community to strengthen the "local safety net" and to ensure that all members of the community have access to the services, supports and help needed to meet their most basic human needs.
Of the organizations that participated in the United Way's Needs Assessment survey, 90 percent reported that the demand for services had grown over the past two years, with 65 percent calling this growth significant. Through the same two years, agencies reported that reserves had been depleted, contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and events plummeted and the number of people without insurance or the ability to pay for services was climbing. 69 percent of these organizations list the government as one of their top three sources of revenue — funding that provides anywhere from 10 percent to 85 percent of their budgets. Though some revenue sources have begun to recover, it is very unlikely that they will be sufficient to replace the major funding reductions most of us anticipate from the state and federal government.
For the first time in many years, the Greenwich United Way welcomed two new partner agencies, at the same time that program funding requests from existing partners was up approximately 18 percent over the funds distributed the year prior.
The Sole Sisters were proud to learn about the increasing needs in the community and help the United Way respond by raising more than $188,000.
Nationally, charitable giving to Human Services is down 18 percent, and when coupled with dwindling endowments and government cutbacks for services provided by non-profit agencies, our fragile network of service providers is hovering near its breaking point. At any other time, a non-profit organization might weather this storm by reducing expenses and cutting back programs deemed less critical. But the economic crisis that created such a significant drop in revenue, has also brought with it a dramatic increase in the demand for programs and services.
In an effort to help local agencies address growing needs and continue to provide essential services, the Greenwich United Way has created the Critical Response Fund. This Fund, which the United Sole Sisters will learn about and support this year, will provide special grants to local agencies that can demonstrate a need that has been created or exacerbated by the economic crisis. The funds are not intended to simply plug a hole in an organization's budget that may reappear once the grant is used up. If the funding is to help manage a difficult financial situation, part of the process will be to ensure the development of a plan for longer term sustainability. In addition to funding essential programs and services, these funds can be used to help address an agency's need for professional assistance, strategic planning, to launch discussions or processes that explore closer collaborations or different business models, staff training, etc., all with the caveat that the economic crisis must be a factor in whatever is being proposed and there must be a plan for the continued provision of services (or processes) once the grant is gone.
This year, the Sole Sisters focused their fundraising and educational activities on Youth Services through the Greenwich United Way. As a result of a United Way study several years ago, a Youth Services Coordinator was hired for the community, supported in part by the Town of Greenwich and State of Connecticut. Similar to the role played by the Town's Commission on Aging — another project created years ago thanks to the United Way's initiative &mash; the Coordinator manages the delivery of services for the youth in town.
Now, the United Way has become the lynchpin creating connections between youth and service providers, the Police, non-profit agencies, and the like.
We have been instrumental in encouraging teens to be a part of the solution through the creation of Junior United Ways on every high school campus in town.
In addition, through a partnership with the Board of Education, the first Greenwich Parent Leadership Training Institute was created through which a group of 21 parents from varied backgrounds are being trained to be advocates and participants in their children's education and ultimately to become community leaders.
Finally, we launched a school readiness initiative with the Board of Education. Though the vast majority of local children enter kindergarten having had some type of pre-school experience, children begin their formal schooling at varied levels of preparation which educators indicate play a major role in creating the much publicized achievement gap. We are now striving to define what "school readiness" looks like, identify the "magic formula" of those programs that seem to result in a higher degree of "readiness" &mash; and use this information to improve services and help parents make informed choices.
The Sole Sisters were proud to raise and distribute more than $135,000 for "Youth Services."
The United Sole Sisters were proud to raise and distribute $100,000 to "Promote Self Sufficiency" which helps people who are economically disadvantaged, physically or mentally challenged, or are dealing with other issues such as illiteracy. By supporting this important initiative, the Sole Sisters helped the United Way achieve the following:
The United Sole Sisters were proud to donate $60,000 to the Greenwich United Way to "Assist Individuals in Crisis" — which includes shelter for the homeless; food for the hungry; services for victims of disasters; immediate assistance for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse. By supporting this important initiative, the Sole Sisters helped the United Way achieve the following...
The United Sole Sisters raised and distributed $50,000 in support of "Supporting Seniors" through the Greenwich United Way. Here is a sampling of what the United Way has been able to do with those dollars.
Greenwich United Way • 1 Lafayette Court • Greenwich, CT 06830 • 203.869.2221 • email@example.com
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