United Way of the Virginia Peninsula (UWVP) is hosting three open house events in June that are intended to help frontline staff and supervisors obtain a first-hand glimpse of how its Advocacy and Referral Service operates and what it looks like to partner with the non-profit.
Charvalla West, chief operating officer and director of community impact with United Way of the Virginia Peninsula, said the three open house dates are an avenue to provide a deeper understanding of the non-profit’s Community Assistance Network (CAN) for frontline human service providers.
West said that many of the emergency funding resources that were available to residents during the pandemic have expired. “We need to come together as a community and pool our resources and braid them together in order to help our community survive and thrive,” said West.
She said one of the stark examples of expired community assistance is the state rent relief program that had been functioning as an emergency funding source through the Treasury Department during the covid-19 pandemic. “That program ended May 15,” said West. “It provided hundreds of millions of dollars that was invested in residents of the Peninsula to help pay their rent and keep them housed. It also assisted landlords in recouping some of the delinquent rents while people weren’t working or unable to pay their rent.”
West said that when the rent relief program was available, United Way launched CAN in July 2021. “United Way provides an advocacy and referral service that serves as the backbone for that network, and through that service, we provide one central phone number for residents on the Peninsula to call when they have a need, or if they have a resource, but it’s primarily used by folks who are facing poverty-related needs,” said West.
Poverty-related needs include assistance with rent, utilities, childcare, and intangible support such as housing and budget counseling. “Even mental health counseling has been requested through our network,” she said.
West said she hopes the open house events will attract new partners that are looking for a starting point to pool their resources.
“The faith community, for example, typically a church or group that has a benevolence fund, or some type of financial assistance they can provide to the community, but they’re very limited, and don’t always have the capacity to best steward that fund, so they can partner with us to help screen out folks, to make sure they’re not duplicating assistance, and then those funds can go directly to households who need it,” said West.
Shortly after UWVP launched CAN last summer, it reached over 150 partners through the network.
“Our last count was over 200 partners that serve residents from New Kent County all the way up to Hampton as well as Gloucester and Mathews,” said West. A few examples of CAN partners include the Salvation Army in Gloucester, Hampton, and Williamsburg; Lackey Clinic in York County; and the Samaritan Group in Gloucester.
“The nature of covid, and how it dictated how we provide services, many of our partners haven’t actually been to our building,” said West. “The open houses will provide an opportunity for us to engage more partners, particularly when our community needs us to come together,” said West.
UWVP provides critical programs and services to at-risk neighbors who need to overcome the cycle of poverty in Gloucester County, Hampton, James City County, Mathews County, Newport News, New Kent, Poquoson, Williamsburg, and York County. The non-profit estimates that 41 percent of households on the Virginia Peninsula are living at or below the federal poverty level. Residents in search of assistance are encouraged to call CAN at 757-229-2222.
UWVP is hosting open house opportunities from 1pm to 3pm on Wednesday, June 8; 9am to 11am on Tuesday, June 14; and 3pm to 5pm on Friday, June 24. Visits are expected to last approximately 30 minutes. The United Way of the Virginia Peninsula is located at 11820 Fountain Way Suite 206 in Newport News. Registration is available on UWUP’s website.