By Celia Bacelar
Last month, United Way of Western Connecticut (UWWC) held its annual benefit dinner to recognize community leaders and businesses who distinguish themselves through philanthropy and volunteerism in our area. During the event, UWWC unveiled a video in an effort to shine a light on its central cause: ALICE.
ALICE is a United Way acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed, and it represents the growing number of individuals and families who are working, but are unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation.
Building on a project first initiated in 2009 at United Way of Northern New Jersey, United Ways in several other states joined the United Way ALICE Project in 2014, Western Connecticut among them.
Through a series of new, standardized measurements, United Way is quantifying the size of the workforce in each state that is struggling financially, and charting the reasons why. These measurements provide a broader picture of financial insecurity than traditional federal poverty guidelines.
In the video, UWWC Executive director Kim Morgan offered to pay the grocery bill for customers at the local PriceRite. People of different ages, races and languages sometimes smiled and celebrated or at times, cried, as they were visibly moved by the random act of kindness. One particular women featured in the video is unware of the cameras rolling, and she begins to speak with her daughter in Spanish, as the cashier is ringing up her items. She says she will have to leave a few items behind since she does not have enough money to pay for it all.
Morgan approaches her with another PriceRite worker to translate and tell her that the bill was on her. The woman begins to cry; her daughter explains that she is one of four children, her father has recently left the family and that her mother has been struggling to make up with her one job for the loss of his income.
The story of this family is the story of many in our community who for different reasons, are only one paycheck away from complete financial instability. ALICE workers are essential to the fabric of our society, working in jobs that are integral to our communities, from child care educators and home health aides to mechanics – all workers we rely on every day.
“The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households. When ALICE suffers and is forced to make difficult choices, we all face serious consequences. This grassroots movement is gaining momentum in local communities across the country and several new reports are in development. With significant press coverage, a fresh, nonpartisan, dialogue has started about the importance and fragility of ALICE across the country,” said Morgan.
To me, ALICE is an opportunity to help those who have been trying so hard to help themselves but sometimes, life’s challenges can knock their progress down and make them start all over again. Tribuna is a proud supporter of the work of the United Way of Western Connecticut, and hopes that you can join us in making a difference in someone’s life just like the United Way. A small gift goes a long way! Give just $10: Text ALICE to 71777 in honor of someone you know who works hard to support their family.
To learn more about ALICE, visit www.uwwesternct.org.To watch the United Way of Western Connecticut Acts of Kindness for ALICE video, visit Tribuna’s Facebook page, share the video and pass the kindness on!