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Increasing the number of Henderson County families who have safe, affordable housing is one of UWHC's long term goals. Working with community partners like OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling helps hard-working families gain the information they need for a more stable financial situation and a brighter future. First-time homebuyers and small business owners Lucia and Roberto lived with their three children in a rented mobile home when Housing Assistance Corporation referred them to OnTrack's Homebuyer Program. The couple attended OnTrack's Homebuyer Education series and then met with an OnTrack housing counselor who reviewed the couple's income, expenses, debt, savings, and their housing goals and helped them develop a home buying action plan. Lucia shared, "I thought the class was wonderful and very well taught. You do an exceptional job in helping first-time homeowners prepare for their path to homeownership. This is information that I will always go back to help me be financially stable!" Congratulations to Lucia and Roberto who are well on their way to owning a home!
Everyone wants to live in a healthy community, but obesity continues to threaten the health of about 25% of our local adults and children. UWHC knows that obesity can lead to a host of other health problems, including diabetes. We are proud to work with local partners such as the Boys and Girls Club, Park Ridge Health, and the YMCA on programs that teach healthy behaviors, good nutrition, and exercise. Karen came to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program one year ago as an extremely obese adult with joint pain and a family history of diabetes. She received support from her Medical Wellness Manager and joined group exercise classes, changed her eating habits, and attended class discussions.
Karen has now lost 60 pounds over the last year during the course of the program. She no longer has joint pain, and her physician is pleased with her blood panel results. Her family has also benefited from Karen's success, as she reports that her entire family is making healthier eating choices and are participating in exercise classes. United Way works to help people like Karen and her family develop healthier lifestyles that will benefit them - and our whole community - for years to come.
After emigrating from Tegucigalpa, Honduras more than 10 years ago, Alejandra, now a US citizen, decided that it was time to improve her English. She enrolled in Blue Ridge Community College's (BRCC) ESL program. While studying at BRCC, Alejandra learned that she could receive individual tutoring through Blue Ridge Literacy Council (BRLC). She was paired with her new tutor, Kathryn, and the two began weekly tutoring sessions.
Over the next year Alejandra obtained her GED, completed the Career Readiness Certificate, and gained admission to the Certified Nurse Aide I (CNA I) course offered at BRCC. By the spring of 2014, she had earned the CNA I Certificate, passed the Nurse Aide I State Registry exam, and had also secured a job in a retirement facility.
"After hours and hours of hard work with my tutor and on my own, I started 2014 as a more secure and confident woman because of the support I have Silver Bronze received. Blue Ridge Literacy Council is a wonderful resource in this community. They offer free tutoring to give Henderson County residents the opportunity to advance and grow academically and personally," said Alejandra. "I appreciate BRLC, their staff, Kathryn, and all those who make it possible for this program to continue to be available."
Blue Ridge Literacy Council is one of United Way's partner agencies. You can learn more about BRLC and our other wonderful community partners on our Funded Community Partners page.
Love's Kitchen, supported by MANNA Food Bank - a UWHC partner agency, operates out of a Henderson County church and provides a hot lunch once a week to clients in need. They normally have their clients go through a buffet line to pick up their food and use paper plates and plastic utensils. Since Christmas was approaching, the staff decided they wanted to do something special for their guests. They got dozens of additional folks to volunteer as waiters, and set each table with linens, real plates, and silverware.
An older gentleman who was a regular at the meal site sat looking down silently at his plate with tears in his eyes. "Is everything okay?" a volunteer asked. "Oh, yes," the man replied. "It's just that I can't believe I am eating from a real plate."
The simple kindness shown to this man and others attending this Christmas meal may have seemed a small thing. But to him, it was a great gift. He may have fallen on hard times, but he was treated like a friend and offered respect and compassion.
Vincent Van Gogh said "Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together." Here at United Way, we believe in the power of bringing small things together. We need YOU to help us continue to improve the lives of vulnerable people in our community. When we put our acts of kindness together, we make a big difference! Whether it is through volunteering or making a meaningful financial gift, together, we can help over 30,000 of our neighbors in Henderson County have a better life.