Throughout the United Way of Story County (UWSC) LIVE UNITED campaign, this column will highlight different programs in each of the three community impact areas of education, income and health to give readers an idea of the work being done.

By investing in the impact area of income, UWSC supports programs like homelessness prevention, healthy food vouchers, sliding fee scales for child care and financial education so women can achieve self-sufficiency. UWSC invests 37.1 percent of the community impact budget into the income "bucket."

Creating the strongest community possible requires individuals and families in need to have their basic needs met. However, for those walking a financial tightrope, meeting basic and emergency needs is tough. For many of our neighbors, having a safe place to live, and access to food at all times is not always a reality.

Good Neighbor Emergency Service, which is one of nearly 30 United Way of Story County partner agencies, works with individuals and families who are facing financial difficulties. The four different programs offered are designed to help people in crisis situations by offering one-time assistance. Good Neighbor’s emergency rental and utility program provides financial assistance to help ensure that families remain in their homes without the disruption of needed services. The agency’s transportation and food assistance programs help those who need a hand.

Good Neighbor gathers information in follow-up surveys to demonstrate the positive impact from this assistance. Seventy-six percent of those who received rental assistance are still in their home or left in good standing. Eighty-six percent of those who received utility assistance still have open accounts, or closed them with no outstanding balance.

This year, the organization will impact more than 1,800 households. Many passionate supporters of UWSC can be included in the credit for that impact.

(Sara Wilson is marketing director of United Way of Story County, a strategic leader in building county-wide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support, and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.)