United Way of Central Minnesota believes every person should be on a path to economic stability. However, nearly 70 percent of Americans in the lowest income quintile never reach middle-class status (Chetty, Hendren, Jones & Porter, 2019). UWCM partners with agencies like the Salvation Army to address the root causes of poverty and lead Central Minnesotans back to economic well-being.
For many of us, being “successful” means having access to:
- consistent employment that provides for basic needs
- opportunities for educational advancement
- secure, stable housing
- social support
- good, affordable health care
We know these elements help lead us to a fulfilling life in our region. Yet race, zip code and complex problems often dictate whether we can achieve economic mobility and financial stability. Some of us do not have the resources to meet basic needs, much less save for the kinds of calamity that can shake our security and sense of well-being. Sudden job loss, unforeseen medical bills or unexpected car repairs can eat up any emergency savings—and fast. Thirty-two percent of Americans could not completely cover a $400 emergency expense with cash or its equivalent, and 11 percent are unable to pay for the expense at all (Federal Reserve, Economic Well-being of US Households, 2022). People of color and those firmly placed within lower income brackets disproportionately comprise this latter group. Policies, practices and circumstances keep some of us from ever achieving the stable lifestyles we desire.
serving many people
Salvation Army Social Services Program Coordinator Karla Rolfzen says those experiencing such emergencies often come to the St. Cloud Salvation Army for assistance: “People sometimes face a personal crisis. Perhaps it’s a job loss, work injury or car accident—which decreases income. Then people need to figure out how to survive. They need to figure out what services are available and who can help. Those who use our services have feelings and needs and are contributing community members. They are not just ‘draining the system.’ We serve families and singles from many kinds of backgrounds and situations, including older adults, who have worked their whole lives. They come to us because they live on a fixed income and really can’t afford all of the needs required to live a decent life.”
help of all kinds
The Salvation Army offers both short-term solutions along with longer-term help. Rolfzen says the agency can dispense winter coats and jackets, back-to-school supplies, food from the food shelf, holiday gifts, emergency shelter, utility and tax preparation assistance and individualized, targeted services planned through a case worker. “We see people come here who need a little bit of help sometimes—and a lot of help sometimes.”
Rolfzen says, “When people come into our emergency shelter—particularly families—they come in crisis and really have been dealing with a lot. When there are kids involved it adds extra stress for them. We are here to calm them down and find out what their needs may be and make connections to community resources that help them get immediate needs met. We also help them plan ahead with a case worker. United Way of Central Minnesota’s funding helps us at the Salvation Army keep programs operating.”
United Way of Central Minnesota, the Salvation Army and a broad coalition of partners not only alleviate short-term financial instability, but also address the deeper, more complicated issues involved in poverty. Both local agencies advocate for change that helps us reimagine and rebuild lives with the future in mind.
give. advocate. volunteer. and Live united
Salvation Army red kettles are displayed prominently in many Central Minnesota locations this time of year and are a way to make a monetary donation to the organization. Contributors may also help by giving to United Way.
United Way of Central Minnesota invests in multiple programs that offer equitable educational opportunities, holistic health initiatives, local workforce development and access to area childcare resources—delivered by Central Minnesota’s large network of caring agencies and organizations. Through United Way of Central Minnesota, you may give, advocate or volunteer. These collaborative, community-wide efforts, paired with United Way’s national advocacy work, contributes to the long-term economic mobility of all Central Minnesotans.
Rolfzen says the chance to assist community members in need can happen at any time. “People can help us by dropping off goods at Salvation Army, volunteering and being involved with programming.” She explains how those who have helped the Salvation Army in the past may be the same contributors now. “You know, people come back to us and thank us for the services we provided to them in their time of need and then give back to us. It just really feels great and that is how I know we are providing service to people and that they appreciate it.”
United Way of Central Minnesota proudly LIVES UNITED with the St. Cloud Salvation Army to ensure all Central Minnesotans may find a path to economic stability, now and in the future.
If you need to find local support, call 211 for free and confidential resources that can help.
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- Emergency counseling
- Disaster assistance
- Food and health care
- Insurance assistance
- Employment services
- Veteran services
- Childcare family services
- Mental health support
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