United Way of Hampshire County aids families, children

United Way of Hampshire County addresses the root causes of poverty, violence and hopelessness by focusing on how to prevent them. Its investment strategy centers on strengthening children and families, the basis of building healthy communities.

A charitable donation to United Way of Hampshire County is a great way to help others. Giving to the community fund pools individual contributions so that when a family is in crisis, for example, United Way agencies have the resources to permanently improve their lives.

The de Araujo family, (Orlando, Ginny, Joe, and Teresa), recently relied on The People’s Institute, one of United Way’s 29 partner agencies, to make extra efforts during a particularly scary period in their lives.

Joe de Araujo had just received his second Weekly Worker Award and a raise seemed right around the corner when without warning his department was shut down and he lost his job.

“No questions or answers,” Joe said. “Just no more job. Unfortunately, the bills keep coming and we had very little savings because I was not earning a lot.”

Joe’s two daughters and his son were enrolled in the pre-school and after-school program at The People’s Institute in Northampton, where they received English tutoring and extra help with homework. Joe knew where his children were all the time, and they were receiving better grades in school.

“But now, since I couldn’t pay anymore, I thought that they wouldn’t be able to attend,” said Joe.

The staff at the People’s Institute didn’t let that happen. They had received some grant money from United Way, and this enabled Joe’s kids to stay in the program.

“The People’s Institute told me not to worry. I could spend all my time looking for work and not worrying about my kids, where they were hanging out, or who was going to take care of Ginny who is four. My kids didn’t miss a beat, and I have a couple of good leads for work. Being a single parent is tough, but I am more confident because I know that United Way agencies will help keep my family safe until I get back on my feet.”

Stories like this are familiar to us all, whether we’ve been through a crisis in our own family, or have come to the aid of a friend or neighbor. United Way programs touch one out of every four people in Hampshire County. Its volunteers carefully evaluate its programs every year before funding is renewed, and the staff at United Way seeks out new partners, new grants, and new ideas for improving our quality of life. Our community matters.