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United Way Celebrates 75 Years, Looks to the Future

Helping in your Hometown.  This simple statement sums up the mission of the United Way movement in Williamson County since 1939.
 
On October 10, 2014 United Way of Williamson County will mark 75 years since the Taylor Community Chest was established to help their neighbors and strengthen their community.
Seventy-five years – and multiple name changes later – United Way of Williamson County carries on that strong tradition of bringing the community together to change lives, provide hope and impact our community for the better.  
 
Today, United Way of Williamson County is focused on lasting solutions to local needs, not short-term charity. Our work brings together local employers, business and community leaders, local service providers, community organizations, and education and government institutions to strengthen the foundations of a good life. Our local investment in education, financial stability, health and basic needs is changing lives and Williamson County forever. 
 
The driving force behind our work are the thousands of donors, partners and supporters that give, advocate and volunteer to make Williamson County a great place to live and work. 
Last year, donations to United Way of Williamson County increased by 11.5% over the previous campaign year allowing the campaign to exceed $1 million dollars in pledges and individual gifts!
 
This outpouring of generosity and kindness of thousands of donors will provide the resources needed to continue to grow our impact in communities across Williamson County. Together, with our funded agencies, we are making progress on our community impact goals.
  • Helping children enter kindergarten ready to read and ready to learn. Since March 2013, we have introduced Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to preschoolers at 5 elementary schools with the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students. We are half way to our goal of providing one book a month, free of charge, to preschoolers residing in the boundaries of the ten schools with the most need.
  • Helping students graduate on time by investing in mentoring, tutoring and support systems for families. We have launched MentorInWilco.org, a website designed to easily connect adults with students in need of an adult mentor in each of the 12 Williamson County school districts.
  • Helping families become more financially stable and independent. Since expanding our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program) to include sites in Georgetown, Hutto, Leander and Taylor, more than 2,600 clients have benefitted from increased access to this free tax preparation program over the past four years.  Our low-to-moderate income clients have received more than $4.5 million dollars in refunds, including $1.5 million in Earned Income Credits, from this expansion. The 5,969 volunteer hours have saved those same clients more than $600,000 in fees freeing up money for groceries, rent, bills and savings funds.
  • Additional efforts to strengthen the financial stability of individuals and families are provided in the form of free budgeting and debt management classes offered by United Way of Williamson County. These 90-minute sessions are offered in both English and Spanish, and are helping guide motivated people along the road to financial stability.
  • Increasing access to healthcare, prevention programs and basic needs. Investing in the work of local service providers has been at the core of the United Way movement from the start. Because of the outpouring of generosity in the most recent campaign, $470,000 in Community Impact Grants has been awarded to 19 local nonprofits for this coming year. $300,000 of that investment is directed to promoting access to primary and mental health care, prevention programs, and providing for basic needs like food, housing and utilities.  
As United Way of Williamson County celebrates the past, the Board of Directors and the staff would like to extend a sincere thank you to the tens of thousands of people who over the past seventy-five years have invested in our community through the United Way movement. The collective impact of that history of generosity is immeasurable – and yet there is more to be done. 
 
The future of United Way of Williamson County is about community impact. It’s about building on our long history of responding as a community to the local needs, while addressing the rapid growth and resulting demographic changes happening today. We need your help. 
  • GIVE. It’s easy. Participate in your company’s employee giving campaign and give to United Way of Williamson County’s Community Impact Fund, or donate online at unitedway-wc.org. 
  • ADVOCATE. Use your voice to bring about positive change across the county. Keep up to date on local issues and needs through United Way’s vast social media network. 
  • VOLUNTEER. Mentor a student. Prepare tax returns for low-to-moderate income wage-earners. Sign up for a one-time volunteer event. 
Together, we can make sure all children and youth achieve their potential, families are financially stable, and people across our county are healthy, can live independently, and are able to meet their basic needs. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. And Help in Your Hometown. 
 
We invite you to join us on October 10, 2014 as we host two events to celebrate 75 years of helping in our community. Click here for more information. 
 
Thank you to the countless people who have generously invested in the people of Williamson County through the United Way movement over the past seventy-five years. We are grateful for your support.
 
LeAnn Powers, Chief Professional Officer
United Way of Williamson County