By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
On Thursday afternoon, the Wells Fargo Foundation awarded a check to the High Country United Way in the amount of $21,500, which has been allocated WAMY Community Action’s Total Family Development program.
The award follows a grant writing process through which the United Way sought funding to help lead families out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.
The check was presented before board members and staff representatives of all three organizations at Wells Fargo Bank in Boone.
“We’re certainly very proud to participate in the donation that we’re making today to the United Way and to WAMY,” said Taylor Vickrey, vice president and senior business relationship manager at Wells Fargo. “We certainly feel honored to have the opportunity to support, specifically within WAMY, the Total Family Development program because it provides monies to families that will help them get on their feet, continue the momentum and give them the groundwork to be successful ongoing, which, as we know is what’s important.
“Unfortunately, there are so many times you can get started, but you can get stopped so easily. Once you can give somebody an opportunity to feel that success, it makes a whole big difference.”
HCUW Executive Director Dr. Gary Childers said he and the United Way team had been looking forward to the check presentation for months.
“High Country United Way is grateful for its longstanding relationship with the Wells Fargo Foundation and for Wells Fargo employee contributions,” he said. “Wells Fargo conducts employee campaigns all across the country in support of local causes, but they’re a huge supporter of United Way all across the United States.
“In my best estimate, over the past 12 years, including this grant that we’ll be receiving today, Wells Fargo Foundation and local Wells Fargo employees have contributed at least $87,500 to help meet needs in the High Country. That is impressive, and I don’t know how to express how grateful we are for that. We look forward to an even longer continued relationship with Wells Fargo as we work to try to meet needs.”
WAMY Executive Director Melissa Soto said the funds will be used through the Total Family Development program to support families in Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties who are working toward education or employment in an effort to rise above poverty.
“Getting people above poverty is the first step. We’ve learned hat self-sufficiency is more than money — it’s abut empowerment, education and, most of all, stability,” she said. “We really try to work with the families to keep their heads above water when life gets tough, and we all know life gets tough.
“When one of our clients gets a job and they’re making a reasonable wage, we keep working with them. We help them with budgeting and planning and we help them with expenses until they can get a few paychecks and really get on their feet.
Soto explained that for every family they’re able to help rise above poverty, WAMY saves the state and the county about $18,000 per year.
“Not only are we getting folks off public assistance, but they’re paying taxes and buying goods and services,” she said.
Last year, the WAMY helped 30 families graduate the Total Family Development program and they look forward to reaching even more with new funding from Wells Fargo and United Way.
To learn more about WAMY, visit wamycommunityaction.org or call 828-264-2421.
High Country United Way board members
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