United Way fights to improve health, education, financial stability

Published 3:20 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a series of articles that will highlight local non-profit organizations which serve our community.


When it comes to serving the community, the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County is dedicated to fighting for the health, education, and financial stability of everyone.

“We think those are the major tools to help people get out of poverty,” said Crystal Carter, Community Impact Coordinator for the local United Way.

If someone does not have good health or proper nutrition, it can become difficult for them to obtain and hold down a job, Carter said. For students, poor health or insufficient nutrition can lead to poor academic performance, which can impact them later in life.

On the education side, if individuals do not have a quality education, it can be difficult for them to find work at a job that pays enough for them to support their family.

Without financial stability, families can struggle to provide for their basic needs, and it is difficult to better their financial situation.

“We feel these are stepping stones,” Carter said of the agencies goal of improving health, education, and financial stability. “All of these are foundational building blocks to help people build healthier lives.”

By helping people improve those areas of their lives, United Way hopes to break the cycle of poverty and provide community members with a pathway to independence, according to Carter.

To help complete their mission, the United Way provides assistance to community non-profits and service organizations that provide needed help to residents.

“The United Way switched a few years ago to what is called a ‘Community Impact Model,’” Carter said. This operational model shifts the agency’s focus to supporting organizations already established in a community to meet the needs that are present.

“There are lots of great non-profits that do lots of great things, but we stick with health, education, and financial stability,” Carter said. “We work to find partner agencies that provide services that meet those goals.”

For 2018, the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County provided $84,000 in funding allocations to a total of eight community partner organizations. For 2019, the agency is looking to provide $85,000 in funding to partner agencies.

Among the agencies which have received support from the local United Way are the Neighborhood Service Center, the Boy Scouts, the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County, and the Elizabethton Seniors Center.

“In addition to these funding allocations, we have these low or no cost partnerships with the community,” Carter said. Those initiatives include things such as the Community Gardens project, the Grow Carter County initiative, and the Community Advisory Board.

United Way also offers free computer and internet access for the public at their office to help residents search for jobs, apply for educational programs, or get help with their homework. The agency also has a free clothing closet that is open to the community and has been working with local school systems to provide clothing and shoes for children in need.

To receive funds from the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County there is an application, review, and vetting process each agency goes through. Members of the United Way Board vote to approve the allocations.

For Carter, that process of reviewing and researching the requests as well as maintaining transparency in the agency’s operations is essential for maintaining the integrity of the work done by United Way.

“People will know they can trust us if they see the organizations we donate to, if they can see our financial status, and if they see the safety measures and financial stops we have in place,” Carter said. “They will know their money is going to an agency that has been fully vetted.”

Those interested in supporting the mission of the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County have several ways they can donate. Many local companies host workplace campaigns to collect donations. Donations can also be made directly to the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County either through their office or online at their website www.uwayecc.org.

For more information on the United Way of Elizabethton/Carter County, visit their website, call them at 423-543-6975, email them at director@uwayecc.org, or visit their office located at 210 South Hills Drive in Elizabethton.