“I’ve had a lot of challenges in my life, but there’s just something about being from Akron that gives you the grit to persevere,” says Valerie, a 61-year-old West Akron native and client of several United Way of Summit & Medina services, like 211 and the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) in Akron.
Valerie has faced major setbacks and devasting loss in her life – most recently, an eviction from a home she was hoping to own one day. While struggling to make ends meet between jobs while on short-term disability after a work injury, Valerie learned about 211 through a City of Akron water bill insert.
United Way of Summit & Medina’s 211 program helps people throughout our community find local resources when they don’t know where to turn for help. Free, confidential and available 24/7, 211 has information on thousands of services for Summit and Medina County residents, including supplemental food and nutrition programs, prenatal care, mental health services and more.
211 connected Valerie to the help she needed to catch up on rent and utilities and referred her to the FEC. “I figured, I‘m off work, so it was a good time to pay attention to credit. I just never really did.” She got in touch with the FEC and with the help of a financial coach, Valerie rebuilt her credit and bought a car for the first time in her life – which she considers one of her greatest accomplishments.
Valerie is proud to be from Akron, a place that offers its residents many avenues of help right inside their neighborhoods. “Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down,” she reflects. Now, she feels empowered to reach out for help and advocates for her neighbors. “United Way was there for me,” she says, and she knows that with the help of United Way, anyone in her community can get on the right path too. “I love Akron, and I just want to see my neighborhood thrive.”
United Way of Summit & Medina’s Financial Empowerment Centers help Summit and Medina County residents build financial stability by giving them the resources to budget and save, pay down debt and boost their credit scores.