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I’ve never asked for help before…

Did you know that on average 7,000, about half, of the 2-1-1 callers for Marion County are calling us for the first time? Many of the 7,000 have never asked for help before. Some of our callers who are un- or underemployed have master’s degrees, some are highly experienced professionals. According to a study commissioned by the United Way of Florida and carried out by Rutgers, 28% of all households in Marion County have limited savings and insufficient income, even though they are employed.

We want to share a game created by Urban Ministries of Durham, called Spent, where you can get a sense of the types of situations that can lead to any of us asking for help. While the exact numbers used in the game don’t necessarily match up with average Marion County expenses, the struggles faced are the same. We also want to share a documentary, also called Spent, on how easy it can be to end up walking into a check cashing business, and the downward spiral that can follow.

The good news? That’s why we are here. Marion County has a number of programs available to help and agencies who will often go the extra mile. Simply dial 2-1-1 for banking resources for those who need a bank, even if you have credit problems. Facing any of the obstacles presented in the Spent game or film we shared? We’re here to listen, share resources and help you brainstorm ideas.


Feeling inspired to do something to LIVE UNITED? 2-1-1 and the United Way can get you plugged in to give your time or money to help the 44% of Marion County community members who are in poverty or barely getting by. Give us a call.


2-1-1 Success: Balancing a Budget

Bank on MarionSometimes our best intentions can unintentionally lead us to difficult times. When Ms. Waters* contacted 2-1-1, she was struggling with her bills and debt after trying to take a step in the right direction by opening a bank account. In the process of moving toward building up some savings, she ended up buried in bank fees that she didn’t realize she was accruing. She got pulled into a cycle of trying to get caught up and out of the fees. Having a fixed and limited income, due to her disability, this was a daunting and increasingly impossible task. Her stress levels were going up, and with her disability that meant running the risk of re-occurring health problems.  Marsha Holloway, with the United Way, let us know that Ms. Waters is not alone. She shared that frequently participants in the United Way financial education workshops are in the same situation with a bank having accrued fees that they can not pay due to financial hardship. (more…)

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