A YEAR OF TRANSFORMATION
By Rebecca Melton
2019 has been a year of transformation for United Way of York County, SC (UWYC). As our community grows and changes, we must evolve as well. Our organization has experienced many changes, successes, and challenges throughout the year. Change leads to growth, and we are thankful for the opportunity to grow.
An initiative that continuously grows is United Way’s SC 2-1-1 Call Center. This service is a county-wide, federally designated calling code to provide residents access to comprehensive information and referrals for health and human services. United Way’s SC 2-1-1, an easy to remember number, is staffed 24/7, confidential, free, and accessible from both cell and landline telephones in York County. In 2018-2019, more than 1,334 calls were received, and more than 4,316 community needs were identified and referred to appropriate agencies and organizations. An exciting addition to the service this year was an easy to use app for mobile phones.
In 2019 UWYC hosted the second annual Connect the Dots job resource fair through a partnership with the City of Rock Hill Weed and Seed Urban Rock Hill program. Connect the Dots provides connections between homeless and low-income families to workforce development resources. Together, we offered dynamic speakers and presenters, who brought valuable career development knowledge to participants. Attendees were connected to over 30 vendors working in the areas of career development, job placement, childcare resources, and mental health resources.
Another exciting area of growth for UWYC this year has been in staff expansion. In June, Mollie Rose was hired as Director of Marketing & Communications; this is the first time UWYC has held a marketing position. Her role will help us to connect with the community not only face-to-face but in a digital capacity as well. Additionally, Summersby Okey was hired in August as the Collective Impact Director. Summersby keeps the pulse of the community and ensures we are connected with partner agencies and local organizations.
The most significant area of transformation has been our new focus on financial stability. On August 26th, we kicked off our bold goal of helping 3,000 York County families achieve financial stability by 2030. This new direction will enable us to play an engaged role in impacting the community that goes beyond simply vetting partner agencies and allocating funds to responsible partners. We want to be as effective as possible in the community by measurably changing lives in York County.
A financially stable family has enough resources to meet its needs without public support. UWYC’s focus on financial stability aims to get to the root causes of the issue of poverty and build from there. If we can help a family or individual be in a place where they can be self-sufficient, then we can start to alleviate the need for support such as food banks. We want the community to come together to find solutions for the root causes of poverty in our community rather than responding to isolated crises as they arise for York County families.
As we look to the year 2020, we are excited to continue our focus on helping York County families become financially stable. Though United Way cannot touch every aspect of poverty, we hope that by facilitating collaboration and community-level tracking, United Way can directly bring agencies together. Through our tracking, we hope to combat the cycle of poverty, provide an alternative to government assistance, address the stigma around getting help, and help heal a broken system.
For over 77 years, United Way has collectively responded to local challenges to help people in an effective and efficient manner. Our mission states that “we transform our community by offering opportunities which improve quality of life.” We believe an engaged community is a strong community. As we reflect on this past year, it is evident that we do have an engaged community. The power of collaboration truly makes a difference. Together, we must commit our time, energy, resources, knowledge, and passion to make change happen.
Rebecca Melton is the President of United Way of York County, SC.