Janet had a rough start coming in to 2020 (As we can all relate). However, she started off her year with a shut off notice from her electric company. She had called the Barry County United Way office regarding her utility bill being past due and not having the dollars to pay it. By leveraging our Michigan Energy Assistance Program grant dollars we were able to assist Janet not only in catching up on her electric bill, but also by enrolling her in the CARES program, which helps her to maintain a steady monthly payment plan.
She has been enrolled since July 2020 and has made a huge turn around with her on time monthly payments. When we spoke in April of 2020 she had not paid her bill since January. Now she will call to check in and if she is behind she calls to let us know before we even receive notice that her account is past due. We are extremely proud of her for her hard work in keeping her energy costs down, for making her payments every month on time and for her follow up with case management.
This past fall we were contacted by an employer that was referring Michael to our Family Economic Support Office (FESO) as part of his last-chance agreement. Michael did not reach out to our Courtney Ziny, FESO Success Coach as expected, so his supervisor physically walked him to our Success Coach and introduced the two.
Michael, a single father had weight-loss surgery and hadn’t worked a full week since returning to work – over four months prior to our meeting! He had used FMLA to account for many of those days. Because of the decreased income he had incurred two loans through his financial institution, as well as a payday loan and an online payday installment loan. He admitted that he is basically robbing Peter to pay Paul each week. Michael’s vehicle badly needed new tires and his vehicle insurance was getting ready to be cancelled. On top of all that, he has some underlying mental health issues that his doctor is attempting to address.
Courtney and Michael met many times. They would address one or two items each time they met so that his action items were clear and achievable. Michael is now receiving food and utility assistance through Michigan Department Health & Human Services. Courtney was able to enroll him in a utility assistance program that provided monthly assistance for the next year. He made a plan – and executed that plan – to bring his bank account out of the negative. There are many steps for him to take yet, but his entire attitude in the workplace has changed.
In Michael’s own words:
“I’m kind of glad my attendance reached this point. If I hadn’t been made to meet with you, I’d be out there digging myself into an even bigger financial hole and I probably would have lost my job by now. It’s so great that the company cares about us enough to offer this.”
Emily was chronically homeless beginning roughly two years ago. She was referred to the Barry County United Way by local law enforcement for some personal care items and clothing. Thus began our case management relationship with her. Working together with Barry County Community Mental Health and local law enforcement we were able to establish communication and begin the process of building a relationship. Emily was facing many challenges but we persisted with case management. This included phone calls, emails and in person visits with not only the Barry County United Way but Community Mental Health and a SOAR counselor to once again apply for Social Security Disability. Over the past year Emily has shown great vulnerability and commitment to her success.
Working with Emily, we completed multiple housing applications and shared with landlords some of the programs and assistance the Barry County United Way can offer. Finally in October of 2020 we were notified that Emily was approved for a unit utilizing our Permanent Support Housing – Dedicated Plus grant through Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. We have seen many changes with Emily over this time and look forward to continued case management and assistance for her.