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Tanya Hasbargen/United Way: Finding the way to financial stability

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BEMIDJI — How would you explain financial stability?

Take some time to think about what makes up your vision of financial stability. When grocery shopping, do you buy what you need or what you want? Do you rent or own your home? Do you have a car? Do you have health insurance (even if you don’t like how much it costs)? How about a clothes washer and dryer? Phone?

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People experiencing poverty are living without financial security — without basic necessities. In 2012, the U.S. government defined the poverty level at an annual income of $23,050 for a family of four, or $1,920 a month. That is what a family of four would have to pay for food, shelter/housing, transportation, health care, laundry and technology (computer, TV, phone, and access to the Internet, cable, etc.).

I think it is difficult to explain what financial stability is because it means different things to different people. And, it is something that can change, for better or worse, for just about anyone.

There are three areas United Way focuses on as the building blocks for a good life — Education, Income, and Health. United Way uses the words ‘income’ and ‘financial stability’ somewhat interchangeably, with the overall focus to provide and support opportunities that increase one’s self-sufficiency and independence.

United Way partners with non-profit organizations to ensure programs and services are available to people when they need them and that they can find those resources. Community Resource Connections is a partner agency of United Way, and serves as a ‘first call’ when looking for help. They visit with you to learn about what you are going through and identify programs that might be able to help; assist you with the required paperwork, and help you through the whole process. It’s valuable to be able to make that first call and have someone help you find your way. Last year, Community Resource Connections helped 1,614 individuals find the financial resources they needed.

This past year, Occupational Development Center provided a supportive work environment and good-paying jobs to 175 adults with disabilities (or other employment barriers). Lutheran Social Services Senior Companions provided 1,610 homebound or isolated older adults, a companion to be with them and keep them safe and in their homes. And, Evergreen’s Transitional Housing program assisted 104 individuals, ages 16-21, in obtaining housing, supportive services, and ultimately to gain self-sufficiency.

These are just a few examples of the great work provided in the community because of your support of United Way. Thank you for supporting United Way, and for making a world of difference in Bemidji.

It takes each of us to come together and care for the wonderful community we have in Bemidji. So, sign-up to donate through your workplace, visit UnitedWayBemidji.org to give online, or mail a donation in to the United Way office at Box 27, Bemidji, MN 56619. Make a world of difference. Support United Way of Bemidji.

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