“United Way of North Central Florida fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community,” is not just a tagline, it is our mantra.
At United Way, we believe everything is connected. If a child does not have adequate dental care, tooth pain can affect their ability to focus in school and their overall education suffers. If a senior citizen is deciding between paying for their necessary medication and putting food on their table, inevitably their health suffers.
With the help of United Way’s Community Investment Fund, that child can receive dental care through ACORN Clinic’s Dental Home for Low Income, Rural Children and Families program, and that senior citizen can afford their medication because they are now receiving food from ElderCare’s Meals on Wheels program.
Gainesville Area Community Tennis Association’s (GACTA) Aces in Motion program and Catholic Charities’ Weekend Hunger Backpack program are excellent examples of the significant connection between education and health.
Aces in Motion is a unique program that combines test preparation and tutoring with physical fitness through tennis. Additionally, these middle school students are provided a safe place to go after school and are taught life skills to prepare them for their future.
Weekend Hunger Backpack program provides food to all school-aged children in a household over the weekend, so on Monday morning, the kids arrive at school ready and focused on learning. Weekend Hunger Backpack program is currently at 14 schools and feeds nearly 700 children a week.
Another crucial, and often ignored, area of focus is mental health. Girls Place’s BrainPower program, funded through the Community Investment Fund, provides individual, group and family counseling and crisis intervention for girls and their families. BrainPower addresses issues ranging from bullying, self-esteem and body image to survivors of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Support is also available to families experiencing divorce, homelessness and incarceration. BrainPower ensures that the girls have the capacity to cope with mental health issues, to succeed in school, home and life.
Our three main areas of focus have always been health, education and financial stability. We understand the importance of helping every person in our community live the best lives they can. We have one life. To live better, we must live united.
To learn more about United Way of North Central Florida’s impact on the health of our community, please visit www.unitedwayncfl.org or contact Mona Gil de Gibaja, MSW, Ph.D. at [email protected].