YORKTOWN, Va. - The pandemic exacerbated the need for help in our communities, whether it be with food, financial assistance or other emergency needs.
"In the Commonwealth, over 40% of our families live in ALICE or in poverty," said United Way of the Virginia Peninsula CEO Steve Kast.
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed.
The United Way of the Virginia Peninsula is one of many organizations tasked with helping those in dire need.
"These are people that are one crisis away from spiraling out of control," said Kast.
On Tuesday, they launched the Community Assistance Network. Essentially, it is a phone bank of diverse community partners working together to help anyone in need who can call and get instant help instead of what Kast says is a "black hole" of voicemails.
"Imagine you are given one phone number and you can call the United Way, and on the other line you get an advocate for you," said Kast.
Kast says during 2020 alone, the UWP fielded more than 38,000 calls for help.
The call center will now assign a client a case manager and advocate to follow them through their journey.
"This is the human touch," said Kast.
Tuesday, the public and Congresswoman Elaine Luria toured the new Community Assistance Network facility in Yorktown.
"It seemed like a noble effort and something I should peruse, and it would benefit the entire Peninsula," said Luria.
Luria helped secure $1 million in House-passed funding for the new regional community resource center.
"I hope this will make a huge difference," she said.
The center has been helping those in crisis since July, but it will consolidate to this location on October 1. The goal is to move 10% of households on the Peninsula out of poverty by 2023.