United Way Silicon Valley partners with to provide safety-net services to those in South County through United Way’s Emergency Assistance Network. In the last six months of 2011, 9,500 South County residents received help with food, rent, utilities, medicine, or transportation thanks to the assistance network.
United Way Silicon Valley’s 211 Santa Clara County is helping South County residents get the help they need. The three-digit phone number and website provides a direct line to thousands of community services. The free, confidential service is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
211 received nearly 1,500 calls from South County residents last year. The top reasons Gilroy and Morgan Hill residents called 211 were for housing, legal services and health services.
United Way Silicon Valley is also supporting efforts to bring thousands of dollars back into South County through free tax assistance to help those with low income claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax benefits. United Way recruits volunteers to help at IRS-approved Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites.
More than one million dollars in tax credits and refunds were returned to South County residents last year with the help of these VITA sites. This year, VITA sites are located in Gilroy at the Gilroy One-Stop Center, the library, , and Serra Cottage, and in Morgan Hill at The Lori Escobar El Toro Youth Center.
Advocating for Key Issues
United Way understands that these programs alone can’t change community conditions. That’s why the organization advocates for key public policies that will improve life for local residents.
Concerned about the rising tide of hunger, United Way supported AB 6, which streamlined the administration of CalFresh, also known as food stamps, to help more people access food in these tough times. The legislation eliminates key barriers, including quarterly reporting and fingerprinting.
United Way also supports the Coalition Against Payday Predators, which is working to raise awareness about predatory lending practices and stop the proliferation of payday loan outlets. These predatory lenders often take advantage of workers with low-income who don’t have bank accounts by charging inflated interest rates.
Taking Action Through Volunteerism
United Way Silicon Valley helps companies and individuals take action through volunteerism. United Way connects companies and their employees to a variety of volunteer opportunities and events, including its Day of Action every June.
“Day of Action is a nationwide call to advance the common good,” said Carole Leigh Hutton, president and CEO of United Way Silicon Valley. “Volunteering is one way everyone can get involved in their local community. We would like to partner with more companies in Gilroy and Morgan Hill that are looking for engaging and rewarding volunteer activities for their employees that will help local residents.”
More information about United Way’s work in the community, can be found in United Way’s Report to the Community.
United Way Silicon Valley is committed to improving community conditions by helping local people become financially stable and independent. To drive positive change, United Way helps people help themselves by identifying critical needs, mobilizing the caring power of the community and aligning resources to achieve the best solutions.
United Way is focused on the building blocks for a good life: income, education and health. For more information about United Way Silicon Valley, visit their website.