Economic Development

Trumbull United Way Refocuses to Help Families

WARREN, Ohio — A new strategic focus for the United Way of Trumbull County isn’t a direct response to the closing of the General Motors Lordstown Complex, though the president of the organization said the timing of the new focus could not have been better.

The United Way started the process of refocusing two years ago, said its president and chief professional officer, Ginny Pasha, well before GM announced the closure of the Lordstown plant last November, which will impact some 1,500 hourly workers there. The reason for the new focus – called United in Helping Children and Families Thrive – is to help the families in Trumbull County who have difficulty paying their bills when faced with unforeseen expenses, such as appliances or cars breaking down, she said.

“They don’t have the financial reserves and that could slip them into poverty,” Pasha said. “So it seemed very clear to our United Way based on the analysis that there was a role for us to play to help these families remain financially stable.”

As such, the services will help those families affected by the GM layoffs who now will need access to the resources, which will help them remain financially stable, she said.

On Friday, the United Way announced the new areas of focus. John Walsh, board chairman for the United Way, said the it is divided into three categories: Earn Well, Learn Well and Stay Well.

Earn Well encourages programs and services that promote self-sufficiency and financial stability, such as helping residents gain and keep jobs, maintain access to health care and drug prevention, and providing financial education, Walsh said. Learn Well includes efforts to improve learning experiences, educational opportunities and enrichment experiences for children up to grade 12 to prepare them for 21st century jobs, and Stay Well ensures basic needs are met, he said.

“I am very excited about the new approach to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the community as it is today,” he said.

The focus was developed from two years of research conducted by the United Way that looked at how the organization can have a stronger impact on the community, Pasha said.

“We conducted a survey. We also took a look at demographic information as provided through the ALICE [Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed] Report and through other works that’s been done by others,” Pasha said.

The survey showed that 48% of families in Trumbull County struggle to afford basic needs. Based on the results of the survey and research, the United Way decided to help families who have difficulties in making ends meet.

“Some of that might take shape in helping them in being job ready, help them manage limited resources and access other resources that they may not be aware of,” she said. “I would have thought education might have been the top priority. It was a very close second.”

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, also a United Way board member, said the change in focus “is particularly important for not only the City of Warren, but all of Trumbull County because it’s going to allow us to address some of the most pressing needs of our families and their children.” Franklin looks to address the issues of working poor families in Warren, he added.

Pictured: Matt Martin, board member and planning committee chair for United Way of Trumbull County; John Walsh, chairman; and Ginny Pasha, president and chief professional officer.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.