United Way Community Update

Staff Spotlight: Darshana Shyamsunder

Meet Darshana Shyamsunder, Senior Director, Community Impact Initiatives, at United Way of Chester County.

Learn more about her integral role at UWCC and what work she is most proud of by watching the video below.

Who is ALICE?

The rising cost of household essentials and the increase in low-wage jobs have caused a rapid increase in the number of ALICE (an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households in our community.

Although Chester County is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, there is still a poverty rate of 7%. The real need in our community becomes clearer when we consider there is an additional 20% rate of ALICE households. Coupled with those under the poverty line, more than 1 in 4 Chester County residents are unable to make ends meet. 

United Way of Chester County is always working to help ALICE through our Community Impact & Innovation Fund and special initiative work.

  • ALICE has income above the FEDERAL poverty line, which makes ALICE ineligible for many state and federal programs
  • ALICE cannot meet the basic needs required to live in Chester County without help
  • ALICE is hard-working
  • ALICE needs short-term help, not long term hand-outs
  • ALICE is every gender, race, age and ethnicity
  • ALICE contributes to your quality of life
  • ALICE is your NEIGHBOR!

To learn more about ALICE, click here. To learn how you can financially support ALICE, contact Doug Kaiser, Director of Resource Development, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4102.

Community Connection: Citadel Credit Union

Did you know that one in three families struggle to provide diapers for their babies? Furthermore, many nonprofits are unable to maintain an adequate supply of diapers due to increasing demand and as a result, babies are left in wet diapers for many hours causing illness and discomfort, and preventing playing, learning, and growing.

Citadel Credit Union reached out to United Way of Chester County wanting to continue to contribute in a meaningful and relevant way as the pandemic continued, which lead to a Diaper Drive. From April 26 through May 7, Citadel employees are encouraged to bring a donation to their office, order diapers online and have them shipped to their Corporate Headquarters, or give a monetary donation to go towards a bulk diaper purchase. This gives everyone, even remote employees, the opportunity to be involved.

“Although we are operating differently since the start of the pandemic, it is important for us to continue to give back to our community,” said Anand Solanki, SVP/CFO, Citadel Credit Union. “We’re here to serve our members and communities and build strength together.”

The diapers will be donated to three local organizations.

“Opportunity and connection are two of our core values at Citadel Credit Union,” said Stephanie Nickens, United Way Committee Chair, Citadel Credit Union. “Organizing this year’s hybrid United Way Diaper Drive gives our entire team the opportunity to give back and connect to our community in a meaningful way. Even if we can’t gather together for traditional community service opportunities, we can still contribute as a team.”

To learn more about how your business or organization can run a similar drive, contact Doug Kaiser, Director of Resource Development, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4102.

United Way Financial Stability Center Partner Highlight: Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania

With the help of our partners, United Way Financial Stability Center helps clients navigate a path towards a more secure financial future

Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania (LASP) offers free civil legal aid for low-income, vulnerable people in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. Their mission is to empower their clients to solve problems without legal representation through legal education and increased access to the courts, and to change community practices and systems that cause or aggravate poverty.

“LASP is proud to be a long-time partner of the United Way Financial Stability Center” said Brian Doyle, Staff Attorney, Pro Bono Coordinator for Chester County at LASP. “We greatly value the FSC approach, which recognizes serving the needs of the whole person is the surest means to achieve long-term financial stability. Thanks to FSC, hundreds of clients, for the first time, have access to LASP legal resources and representation. We look forward to continuing to offer workshops, trainings, and representation that help remove legal barriers to financial stability: clearing criminal records, obtaining identification documents, accessing benefits, safe housing, and much more.” LASP offers a variety of free consultations for clients at the United Way Financial Stability Center, including civil legal matters such as family law, protection from abuse, bankruptcy, unemployment compensation, pardon and expungement, disability, welfare benefits, landlord/tenant law, elder law and estate documents. Some services require appointments and are available by calling 610-429-9400. LASP also offers workshops virtually on Unemployment Compensation and PA Clean Slate.

“One client story that I will never forget, is helping a very well-educated woman who had several DUI’s on her record that was unable to find work,” said Deborah Steeves, Attorney at LASP. “We were able to help seal her record and start her on a route to get a pardon. This process took two years, but she was granted a pardon this past January! Just sealing her record allowed her to move to a more sustainable position. We have now filed to get her record expunged. Once the expungement goes through, she will be completely cleared.”

To learn more about LASP, click here. To learn how you can financially support the United Way Financial Stability Center, contact Doug Kaiser, Director of Resource Development, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4102.

You Don’t Have to Be Big to Make a BIG Impact

The small but mighty team at Keller Williams-Matt Gorham Group recently held a March Madness fundraiser with the proceeds matched and given to the United Way of Chester County’s Mobile Home Tax Reassessment project. This event raised a total of $4,100 for the program which will fund 55 mobile home reassessments. It is estimated that those 55 reassessments could save the homeowners approximately $500,000 in taxes over the next 10 years that they should have never owed to begin with if not for a flaw in the state tax code on how mobile homes are assessed.
Matt Gorham said “we love everything about the work of United Way of Chester County and how they are always looking out for the little guy. We will continue to look for ways to support and advance their work because we know they will leverage that support to create a huge impact.” United Way of Chester County President & CEO Chris Saello said “Matt Gorham and his team continue to amaze us with their commitment to the community. They are a perfect example of how everyone can do something to help the community regardless of how big or small your business may be. We are grateful to have such amazing advocates for the work of the United Way of Chester County.”

To learn more about the Mobile Home Tax Reassessment project, click here or contact Darshana Shyamsunder, Director, Community Impact Initiatives, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4112. To learn how you can financially support this project.

To learn more about how your business or organization can run a similar fundraiser, contact Doug Kaiser, Director of Resource Development, at 610.429.9400 ext. 4102.