Kids Succeed & Struggling Families Win!

We believe all children should have equal access to quality day care and early learning opportunities.

By supporting United Way of Jackson County, you make quality care affordable for struggling families. UWJC funds the FIRST Family Support Program through the Child Care Network. This program provides child care tuition to low-income qualifying families. Parents can afford day care that provides their young children with development and growth opportunities. In turn, parents are able to redirect their limited resources so they can live independently and continue on their pathway to financial stability and success. Lauren’s story is one example of the impact you have made possible through your United Way of Jackson County support. The following was taken from a letter Lauren submitted when she re-applied for the program.

As I was receiving help with my daycare bill, I was able to save some money and move in to a beautiful 2-bedroom apartment. My son was very excited to finally have his own room! I was able to improve my credit score by paying off any balances I had in collections. This allowed me to secure an auto loan through my credit union and purchase a much safer and reliable vehicle. I was also able to take the Certified Nurse Aide course at the Jackson Area Career Center in April. I passed the class with flying colors and I am currently waiting to be scheduled for the state test to complete my certification. I am very proud that I was able to accomplish everything I have this year but more importantly, I was able to do it all without having to worry about the safety of my son or the quality of his care. This scholarship allowed me to afford an amazing daycare provider. My son is always excited to get to daycare every morning so he can see his friends and eat breakfast with them. He is always such a happy boy and he has learned so much just from being in such an educational environment.

Without this program, my son would not be attending such a great daycare, we would not be living in a decent residence or have dependable transportation. Some months are tighter than others, but with a strict budget we are able to make do. I am grateful for the help I have received and hope to one day be in a position that allows me to be completely self-sufficient.

Your support has made it possible for Lauren to be on her own pathway to financial stability and success.

Help others like Lauren and her son.

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We believe that helping struggling families and individuals with basic needs assistance during times of financial crisis will eventually lead to stability and success.


When you support United Way of Jackson County, you help expand the safety net for families and individuals. United Way provides funds to the Salvation Army Basic Needs Program, which provides food, utility assistance and minor home repair. Dorothy is just one of many who have been able to get by because of this United Way funded program.

Dorothy had hip surgery. She spent last winter at a nursing facility recovering and doing physical therapy. Her husband passed away several years ago, and her family is spread out across several states. It was early spring when she returned home alone. The joy of finally being comfortable in her own home was soon replace with dread and despair. While she was gone, the cold weather cause her pipes to burst. Who knows how long the water was running in her basement? The cost of the water usage and necessary repairs were very high. She was referred to the basic needs program, where they were able to assist with some of the repairs and pay her water bill so she could re-establish water service. It’s hard living on a fixed income. With help from this United Way funded program, Dorothy was able to stay in her home and maintain her stability.

Last year, 8,089 applicants received five days-worth of food assistance and 3,995 applicants were able to avoid a shutoff or had service restoration with their utilities. By supporting United Way of Jackson County, you help to expand the safety need for struggling families and individuals so they can weather a crisis and remain on their pathway to stability and success.

Help others facing crisis

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Your United Way of Jackson County support is helping young students understand how alcohol, tobacco, and drugs will negatively impact their lives.


We believe kids who have been a part of this United Way funded program will make positive choices and will remain on their pathway to stability and success. The Breakout Drug Education Program provides school based education for middle and high school students throughout Jackson County. They are making an IMPACT in our community. The following was taken from a “Letter of Support” written by a Columbia Central teacher.

This program is effective because it is geared toward the middle school/high school level so the students take great interest in it. I have seen how the visual effects, such as the discolored cloth in the bottles due to cigarette smoke or the visually impairing glasses, have made a tremendous impact on the students. The presenters are also very effective. Shelly Milligan has taught the 6th grade program for many years now, and each year, we teachers are impressed with her natural teaching ability and how well she relates to the students. She gets the information across in a way that makes it possible for the students to understand, and they retain the information. I truly believe that this program is convincing students to stay away from drugs and alcohol by showing them some of the consequences ahead of time in a safe and controlled environment.

My son is a 9th grader this year so he has gone through this program for three years. He recently finished this year’s program, and he told me afterward that he would never use drugs with such conviction that I was once again incredibly impressed with the effectiveness of this program. He also went as far as telling his younger sister that she should never do drugs explaining some of the health issues and dangers involved with that type of lifestyle. I whole-heartedly believe he will not use drugs as he gets older, and not because he knows they are “bad” and illegal, but because he understands the severity of the risks to his health. To me, that is the real key to get through to this age group; don’t tell them it is bad, show them the true dangers and health risks associated with using these substances.

75% of students who took part in the Breakout Program said there is little to no chance they will use drugs and 89% of middle school students signed a pledge to stay drug free. Students across Jackson County realize the negative effects drugs will have on their future. They realize that they want more for themselves. Your support is IMPACTING young lives in our community.

IMPACT more lives in Jackson County

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We believe all girls in elementary school should have the opportunity to learn positive values, develop confidence and flourish through cooperation and teamwork.


By supporting United Way of Jackson County, you make it possible to bring a program that promotes these behaviors among low-income populations. UWJC funds the Girl Scout Outreach Program, which takes the values of scouting to areas of need. At-risk girls who engage in scouting develop practical life skills, critical thinking, cooperation and teambuilding skills, becoming resourceful problem-solvers. Through group activities and personal mentoring, these girls develop self-worth and a positive sense of their own future. One of the most exciting success stories from this program recently came from Dibble Elementary as reported in the Girl Scouts Heart Of Michigan Program Progress Report.

“The Outreach Specialist notes that ‘one of the most exciting stories was the initiative girls at Dibble took as a result of their participation in GSHOM’s anti-bullying programming.  They are very committed to addressing this issue at Dibble and are working with school administration and teachers to start an anti-bullying group.  The program has not only benefitted girls in building their confidence and strengthened friendships—it’s benefitting the school as a whole!’”

Your support ensures that all girls in Jackson County have access to the powerful learning experiences Girl Scouting offers. We believe this is particularly important for under-represented girls—girls from families with limited financial and/or transportation resources, housing and or food insecurity; girls from single-parent homes who are responsible for taking care of themselves and younger siblings after school; or girls who have been victims of abuse or neglect. In response to the need for quality, after-school programming for girls in these very challenging situations, this United Way funded outreach program has been created to combat barriers to participation. 

Surveys are conducted at the conclusion of each program series session. Results show that 86% of girls in the program develop a strong sense of self, 89% develop positive values, 81% showed positive indicators of cooperation and teamwork skills, and 70% enhanced conflict resolution skills.

Your support prevents at-risk girls from falling through the cracks. Your support prepares girls for success in life.

Help prepare our youth to succeed in life.

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We believe every child, family, and individual in Jackson County should have the opportunity to forge strong, healthy and caring family relationships with good mental health.



Your United Way of Jackson County support is making an impact by providing outpatient counseling services through Catholic Charities to the uninsured and under-insured. Mary’s story is just one of many whose life was turned around by your generosity.

Mary was struggling — with her children, with relationships within her family, with work, and especially with her husband. She had good role models as a child, and her parents were great. Why was her marriage so different? Why couldn’t she forgive him for their problems of the past?

She was referred to Outpatient Counseling at Catholic Charities, a program funded by United Way. Her head hung low as she filled out the paperwork. When meeting her therapist for the first time, she didn’t shake hands or even say “hi.”  Mary looked at the floor and said, “I don’t want to cry today.”

During the course of her treatment, Mary improved her communication with her husband. Now she was contributing solutions instead of participating in disagreements. Using several techniques, she began to recognize and engage in self-care as a wife and mother. It took time, but the progress she made lead to better relationships with her children. The strategies she had learned helped her enjoy family time again. 

Mary got a new job – and with it, growing confidence. She began volunteering and became involved in the community. She’s able to adapt and juggle her responsibilities which was once a challenge for her. It took time and a lot of hard work, but her marriage was saved, she relishes the time with her children, and she is now a confident professional who gives back to her community.

You made an IMPACT. Your support changes lives. Some 91% of clients in this United Way funded program report improvement in one or more areas of their life. Mary’s story is just one of many.

Help Mary and others like her

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We believe it’s important to protect the interests of incapacitated adults who may be vulnerable to exploitation, neglect or injury. 


Your support allows United Way of Jackson County to fund an Adult Guardian Program.  These guardians and conservators are court-appointed to advocate and make decisions on care, custody, medical treatment and finances. Your support stops crimes like fraud and abuse; in many cases, your support saves the lives of adults who can’t help themselves.

Betty’s neighbors were aware of her. They knew she was in her mid-60s, developmentally disabled and living alone.  They were aware, but they didn’t really know her. That’s why it took a few days for one of Betty’s neighbors to realize they hadn’t seen her in a while. It took another day for that neighbor to mention it to another neighbor. It took another 24 hours for their concern to grow to the point that they called the police. When no one answered their repeated knocks, the police kicked in the door and entered Betty’s home. 

What they found was horrific.

The house was unkempt and unsanitary. Betty was alive but unresponsive,  surrounded by empty liquor bottles, lying in her urine and waste. She had a wound on her leg that was infested with maggots. An ambulance took Betty to Henry Ford Allegiance Health. Betty’s case was reported to Jackson County’s Adult Protective Services. They could not locate a family member to make decisions on Betty’s behalf. The Jackson County Guardian Program was appointed Temporary Guardian and Conservator. A Guardian addressed Betty’s medical issues after she was discharged from the hospital, coordinating placement in a safe community living arrangement that met her needs. The Guardian also arranged for treatment for Betty’s alcoholism. 

Betty will need assistance for the foreseeable future, but her life is no longer that horrific scene found by the first responders. The program you helped to support through your generous gifts to United Way of Jackson County has forged a pathway for Betty to have a life of stability.

All of the Guardian Program’s clients have their basic needs met. You are helping people who are unable to help themselves. Your support makes a difference.

Help Betty and others like her

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We believe all people should have the opportunity to embrace a healthy lifestyle so they can live, work and succeed.


Your support has made it possible to remove obstacles that prevent families and individuals from maintaining their own health and allowing them to work or continue their education.  Project Access is a United Way created and funded program that coordinates necessary health care services to patients that cannot afford medical services and do not have insurance or qualify for public health insurance programs.   Donna’s story is just one of many who have been impacted by your support.

Donna found a lump and it scared her.  Many members of her family had breast cancer scares and now she felt like it was her turn.  Donna is a 46 year old single mom working whatever hours she could at her part-time job. 

Donna was uninsured.  She called 2-1-1.

Soon Donna was enrolled in Project Access (afterwards she said she was treated with dignity during the enrolment process.)  Very quickly she was connected with a physician who volunteered her time and services for the program.  She was long-overdue for diagnostic tests.  Donna was grateful for finally being able to speak confidentially with a doctor to discuss her risk.  Through Project Access, she was able to obtain her first mammogram in four years.

Her fears were comforted.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, nearly $18 million in free health care has been provided to over 1,700 Jackson County residents.  Your support has made a difference.

Help Donna and others like her

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We believe Jackson’s most at-risk population should have their rights and access to their most basic needs protected.


Your support allows United Way of Jackson County to fund Legal Services to very low income individuals and families. This program provides a full range of legal services to qualifying families and individuals, with the goal of meeting basic needs and increasing financial independence. Guan-yin was one of hundreds who found protection because of your United Way support.

Guan-yin had a difficult life in China. She worked very hard with very little reward. She looked to the United States and dreamed of a better life. Desperate, she legally immigrated to Jackson and married a man she met online. It wasn’t the best choice, but she was hoping to make her dream of a better life a reality. 

Her dream turned into a nightmare.

Shortly after their marriage, her husband became abusive and isolated her. She had no contact with her loved ones. He wouldn’t allow her to learn English and constantly held over her the threat of sending her back to China with nothing. Somehow she found her way to Legal Services of South Central Michigan. An interpreter was found, and she was able to acquire legal representation for her divorce. Her lawyer discovered that her husband had signed a contract to support his wife when he brought her to this country. He was required to pay her support as part of the divorce. Guan-yin got the ruling she deserved from her divorce. She was able to move into her own apartment, she’s learning English, and she has a job. She has escaped tyranny twice and is now on her pathway for financial stability and success.

Over the past 18 months. 526 clients at Legal Services have had successful outcomes. Your United Way support has helped mediate agreements, avoid evictions and protect women like Guan-yin from abuse.

How can you make an IMPACT?

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We believe women and children who are survivors of domestic violence should have the tools they need to have a life of safety, stability and success.


Your support has made it possible for the United Way of Jackson County to fund the Trauma Counseling at the AWARE Shelter.  Survivors of domestic and sexual violence have a safe and nurturing environment where they can begin the healing process.  They have access to group and individual counseling.  Through this program, survivors have the opportunityto escape their past and develop their future.  The story of Danna and her daughter is just one of hundreds just this year.  Names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Danna struggled most of her adult life.  She was working, going to school and trying to raise her daughter.  She hoped life would get a little easier when she moved in with her boyfriend.

It got worse.

Instead of being supportive and encouraging, he was controlling and abusive.  The verbal abuse escalated to physical abuse.  Danna endured this life for a year.  Through pain, confusion and a lot of tears, she decided that this would not be her life, that she and her daughter deserved better.  They left everything behind and escaped to the AWARE Shelter.  Immediately she began seeing a trauma counselor.  While getting emotional and basic needs support at the AWARE Shelter, Danna continued to work and go to school.  She is focused on becoming a nurse.  After only a month, she found an apartment and a new beginning for her and her daughter.  The AWARE Shelter provided them with food, toiletries, linens, clothing, dishes and other basic items to get them started in their new home.  Danna has continued to see a trauma counselor at the AWARE Shelter for ongoing emotional support.

Danna is on her pathway to success and stability.

In the first six months of 2016, the AWARE Shelter provided counseling and assistance to nearly 300 victims of domestic and/or sexual violence.  Your support of this United Way funded program has impacted the lives of these mothers and their children in Jackson County for years to come.

Thank you.

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Blog by Ken Toll

My last two blogs touched on a new community vision, United Way’s focus on Financial Stability, and the impact of poverty and near-poverty on people and the community.

Today I want to touch on how Jackson County is going to really move the needle.

Remember our vision: We will be a community rich in opportunities to eliminate poverty and allow all people to achieve financial stability and success.

A vision is great. Every community should have one. But if we don’t take deliberate steps to make it real, it’s just words on paper.

This is where partnership is so crucial. United Way and the Financial Stability Coalition put their heads together to figure out what big, bold step we could take collectively to move Jackson County toward that vision. Out of that months-long discussion, we set a nine-year goal that will drive us toward that vision.

Here’s the goal: Help 5,000 Jackson County residents develop a pathway to financial success by 2025.

At first blush, it sounds doable. But remember the complexities of economic instability. Something as simple and seemingly unrelated as a school child with a sniffle can start a cascade of events that leaves a family in financial trouble.

What do I mean? A child feels sick and reports to the school nurse. The school calls the child’s single parent. Mom leaves work to get her child. She doesn’t have child care or any relatives available to help, so she stays home with her child and loses a day’s pay. Turns out the child has influenza. Mom misses several days of work and has to take her child to the doctor. Now she’s out a week’s pay. She’s already having trouble paying her bills, and now she’s 25 percent behind for the month. What if she can’t make her rent? She could be evicted. What if she can’t make her car payment? She might lose her car, which is her only way to get to work.

See how it spirals out of control?

We believe no family should face that risk. That’s why United Way and the Coalition have put a stake in the ground. By helping 5,000 residents find the way to financial stability, the people of Jackson County will have the tools, knowledge and supports they need to leave economic uncertainty behind.


We will be looking at bolstering education programs that help kids succeed, graduate and go on to successful careers. We’ll look at programs that help people generate more income or manage what they have more effectively. We’ll look at programs that promote nutrition and healthier lifestyles. And as always, we’ll look at support systems that help people through financial bumps and crises so they can keep following that pathway to success.

We’ll be talking a lot more about Financial Stability in the months ahead. I hope you’ll be part of our work to achieve our bold goal and make the vision real for all of Jackson County.

Got some feedback on all this? I’d love to hear it! Send me an email (, give me a call (517-784-0511) or share your thoughts on Facebook.

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Help families become Financially Stable