I am a huge history buff. I love the History Channel’s series on the different U.S. presidents. Previously I watched the Washington, Lincoln and Grant series, but recently I watched the series on Theodore Roosevelt. I knew a little bit about Teddy Roosevelt, but I didn’t realize he had a passion for advocating on behalf of working families — 120 years ago. This recent viewing coincided with the recent United Way news articles and reports about the working poor or ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed). The ALICE reports speak to the needs of families who work but cannot make ends meet. These families are over 200% of current poverty levels and are not eligible for state or federal assistance. The indices for ALICE household budgets look at local prices for housing, utilities, transportation, child care, technology and taxes. I wondered how far we’ve come in 120 years that we still are trying to figure out how to support families to make ends meet.
The statistics still show us that families in Michigan and, indeed, our own counties are struggling. In Michigan, 39% of families are still at or below the ALICE threshold (which includes families at 100% and 200% poverty levels). In Lenawee County, that figure is 38%, and in Monroe County it is 39%. Often incorporating ALICE data into their practices, state and local health and human services agencies continue to work diligently to provide a safety net for these families. The United Way is a community partner in these efforts. It is our role to help assess, evaluate, advocate and financially assist in ensuring there is a safety net for families in crisis.
Thinking about families in crisis, I remembered the Old and New Testament verses, “the poor will always be with us” (Deuteronomy 15:11 and Matthew 26:11). The Old Testament verse also commands us to be “openhanded” to the poor and needy. That sounds very similar to my Grandpa Scheuerman’s encouragement “to help those who need it.” It seems we are supposed to continue to help those less fortunate. I think Teddy Roosevelt would agree — 120 years later!
For more information about the latest ALICE reports, go to www.UnitedforALICE.org. The United Way currently funds 27 local agency programs in Monroe County. See our website (www.unitedwayMLC.org) for a list of those agencies. We appreciate your support to help fight poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, mental health and substance use disorders, domestic violence, and other important community needs. Additional direct programs and services provided by our local United Way include the 211 Health and Human Services Hotline, Project Ramp, Health Check and the 21-Week Racial Equity Challenge.
For more information about living united, please contact us. Call us at 734-242-1331, email firstname.lastname@example.org, contact or visit us at 216 N. Monroe St., Monroe, MI 48162, or visit our website at www.unitedwaymlc.org. Visit our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok social media platforms, too.
Laura Schultz Pipis is the executive director of the United Way of Monroe/Lenawee Counties.