We have a lot to celebrate as we kick off the New Year. On behalf of all of us here at United Way, thank you for all that you do to help us change the odds for so many central Maryland families in need.
Nearly everyone believes that education is the pathway out of poverty. Becoming a parent while still a teenager can nip dreams of completing high school and moving along to college or attaining a professional certification in a trade.
One of the most special things we celebrated in 2014 is the new United Way Family Center that opened in October at Ben Franklin High School in the Brooklyn/Curtis Bay community. Through the center, we’re changing the odds by aiming to make higher education more attainable for teen parents in Baltimore.
What makes the United Way Family Center so special is that it lifts two generations simultaneously. The United Way Family Center has the capacity to serve 20 infants and toddlers. Parents are able to attend high school in the same building where their little ones benefit from high quality, educational day care.
In addition, the center offers parenting seminars, financial education and job readiness classes for the young moms and dads, preparing them to be great parents, heads of the household, and lead productive lives at home and in the workforce. We’re pleased to report that so far, 11 teen parents have enrolled and are already making progress.
We’re already hearing positive feedback from the school and parents. One young parent remarked, “I love the center. I wouldn’t be going to school if it wasn’t for this program.” Another said that her own mother could now go back to work to help stabilize the family’s finances.
Infants are demonstrating more awareness and interacting with others. Toddlers are excited about going to the center each day. Parents are developing a routine and are committed to going to school regularly. Center staff members are building positive relationships with both parents and children.
It is our hope that new possibilities will open up for these promising teens and their children thanks to the United Way Family Support Center. And thanks to you!
Wishing you a prosperous 2015!
Last Thursday, more than 2,000 people experiencing homelessness or poverty were welcomed, guided and served – with dignity and open arms – by a corps of volunteers and service providers at the 3rd Annual Project Homeless Connect, co-led by United Way of Central Maryland and the City of Baltimore.
Project Homeless Connect is a day-long resource fair which convened 100 service providers to help reduce barriers. Services included medical screenings and dental care; mental health services; identification; credit reports and financial services; housing; resumes and employment assistance; clothing; legal help; haircuts and much more. All services were provided free of charge.
2,300 volunteers served as compassionate guides, personalizing the experience so participants could find and secure the help they required.
Achieving the building blocks of a successful life – education, financial stability and health – depends on many factors. The odds are stacked against those facing poverty.
Understanding the cycle of poverty can be a challenge if you’ve never experienced it.
How can you purchase nutritious food if you don’t have a car or reliable public transportation? What if your infant is sick but your job is at risk if you stay home from work? How can you help your kids with their homework when you are balancing two jobs? What do you do if an eviction notice arrives and you’ve exhausted all of your resources for the month?
These are the types of questions thousands of central Maryland families must tackle.