Imagine for a moment that every family in Snohomish County has a roof over their head, fresh, healthy food on the table and are able to pay their bills. Several years ago, this was only a dream for Zsofia and her family, who were living in poverty and could barely afford their basic needs.
Zsofia’s life changed dramatically when she was accepted into a United Way initiative that provided classes on money management, saving, and how to create an effective business plan.
Do you remember being a teenager and trying to find your place in this world? Now imagine doing that as a brand new member of this country. This is Beth’s story.
Beth emigrated from Ethiopia with her family several years ago, and wanted so badly to fit in and give back to her new community.
“I felt so out of place, but I didn’t know where to start,” Beth recalls.
When Beth learned about Youth United, she knew she was headed in the right direction.
If you’ve ever made a big change in your life, you know that old habits can be hard to break. This is Dominick’s story.
At 17, Dominick had dropped out of school, and became involved in drugs and a gang. Dominick knew his life was headed in the wrong direction, and when he reached rock bottom, he knew it was time to make a lasting change.
Slowly, Dominick separated himself from the negative influences in his life, but was often tempted to fall back into a life of drugs and violence. Then, he was introduced Cocoon House’s U-Turn program, a drop-in center for at-risk teens and a United Way funded program.
“A few years ago, my son Ashton had early signs of autism. We weren’t even sure he would ever speak. Now he’s thriving.”
When Ashton began displaying early signs of autism, his mother Lisa brought him to a United Way-funded program at Little Red School House, an agency that advances the quality of life for children with or at risk of developmental delays and disabilities. Through the program, Ashton learned critical behavioral and learning skills.
As a young single mother, Hope’s dream of pursuing a nursing degree seemed just that—a dream. “The idea of 40 hours a week for school was daunting. I wouldn’t have been able to work or afford daycare. I almost gave up,” said Hope.
Just before giving up on her nursing degree, Hope learned about United Way’s Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), which encourages participants to save and learn money management skills.
In 2008, Joni walked into a United Way Free Tax Preparation Site in Everett, and walked out with the largest refund she had ever received. With that money, she was able to pay her bills, financially support her two teenage daughters and, for the first time, give back to the community.
Aaron grew up with abuse and neglect. “When I was 15, my dad put me in the hospital,” says Aaron. “That’s when I left.” Aaron “couch surfed,” staying briefly with friends. Finally, he ended up living under a bridge, setting his alarm clock each night so he could get to school the next morning.
As a toddler, Hunter knew how to walk, talk and attract negative attention. According to mom Leslie, screaming and biting were daily occurrences.
“His tantrums affected all aspects of our lives,” she says.
Hunter’s behavior had him on the verge of being expelled from preschool; Leslie and her husband Ryan were desperate.
When Lethia and her husband, Pierre, were both laid off, things looked bleak. The Individual Development Account (IDA) program helped Pierre get a commercial driver’s license and a second-hand truck to launch Abracadabra Movers.
Mar’s perfect world is one where everyone is prepared: ready for school, ready for life, ready in case of a disaster. A Snohomish resident, she LIVES UNITED by advocating for preparedness and relief efforts.
A long-time resident of Lynnwood’s Lynnview Apartments, Nancy was comfortable in her modest home. It was “her space” until August 2010 when a fire took it all away.
Christine can’t take her children to the library—four-year-old Christopher’s physical impairments make it impossible. Christine can’t afford to buy books, either. So United Way and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library send books to them.
With four children, Juan and Clara Gutierrez stretch Juan’s paycheck as a truck driver as far as possible. United Way’s help with filing their income tax return goes a long way. “I trust United Way to do the best for me,” said Juan.
Mike Dunn loves solving puzzles. That’s why he LIVES UNITED by preparing income taxes for low-income families. Mike was one of 135 volunteers preparing 2010 taxes at United Way tax preparation sites. Since 2007, volunteers have prepared 6,259 returns for $10.3 million in refunds for low-income families.