Services are expanding
AmeriCorps Members Expand United Way Programs in Laurens County
This month, the United Way of Laurens County added two AmeriCorps members to their staff, allowing the organization to expand services in their commitment to serving the needs of the Laurens County community.
This opportunity comes as a part of a collaborative grant with the United Way of Greenville County. A total of 28 members will blanket 5 counties.
Both residents of Laurens County, Alesia Carter of Gray Court and Rebecca Zimmerman of Clinton will focus on workforce development and stabilization services, providing free classes and one-on-one consultations. These services include connecting clients to programs that provide adult education, industry-specific training, soft skills training, and job placement support.
Members are trained to assist individuals in crisis, interact with government and nonprofit entities across the upstate, as well as to provide financial counseling to improve economic stability throughout the community.
As certified counselors through SC Thrive’s Benefit Bank program, the AmeriCorps members provide a guided, one-stop opportunity for Laurens County residents to apply for government benefits such as food stamps (SNAP), welfare (TANF), Medicaid, and Medicare. The Benefit Bank software is designed to estimate which services clients qualify for without making wait them in line at various agencies to receive aid.
Working with the FDIC’s Money Smart curriculum, the members hope to help low- to moderate-income individuals outside the financial mainstream enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships, while providing elementary, middle, and high school students with economic know-how for their future success.
Carter and Zimmerman also plan to expand the reach of VITA, the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which assists people earning under $55,000 a year, living with disabilities, or possessing limited English-speaking skills, to file their taxes for free. In 2015, the Laurens County VITA program completed 250 tax returns, helping taxpayers save over $50,000 and returning $216,846 in tax refunds back to the community.
Through these programs, AmeriCorps and the United Way seek to promote a cycle of success that promotes school readiness, high school graduation, financial stability, physical wellness, and improved standard of living for all.