Thanks to our amazing donors!

By: Courtney Archer
Financial Services Specialist

I’m Courtney Archer, and I work in the Finance department at United Way of Salt Lake as a Financial Services Specialist. This is an extremely busy time of year for us.  With corporate investments coming in and people generously donating during the holidays, we’re on our toes constantly.  Another big task this time of year, is getting tax receipts out to our donors by the end of the month.  I can’t stress how important it is that we have every single fully-paid donation (cash, check, credit card) in and processed in our database before the end of December so that everything is reflected on tax receipts. But our well trained staff who care about our donors and the success of our work, gets the job done!

As you might have already assumed, we are on the receiving end of the donors.  We have the privilege to actually SEE the amount of money and generosity that comes in on a daily basis.  It’s beyond motivating every time I see the stacks of letters and pledge forms from our very generous and passionate donors who truly care about their community and the work that United Way is doing.  Despite current economic struggles and unemployment, people still give, and to me, that’s inspiring.  These people are the reason I have and love my job. They help us everyday achieve our mission to improve lives by bringing people and resources together to solve our communities’ most serious social problems.   So, thank you to our donors (you know who you are), we appreciate each and every one of you!

VITA

By: Lynn Rilling
Income Director

Can you imagine having your taxes done for free and receiving money from the federal government that you can use any way you choose? How about paying off that car loan, making a down payment on a house, or taking classes so you can apply for a higher paying job? The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (or VITA) program makes all this possible!
If your household income is less than $40,000 a year, you might qualify for as much as $4,700 in tax credits. A federal program, called Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), makes this kind of financial “rebate” from the federal government possible. However, getting the word out about this tax credit (and others) takes work. And filing individual income taxes takes work.

To accomplish this, at United Way of Salt Lake, we promote and implement the VITA program through our statewide initiative called “Earn It. Keep It. Save It.”  IRS trained volunteers provide free tax preparation services to low- to moderate-income people and ensure that each tax filer receives all tax the credits to which they are entitled, including the EITC.  Last year alone, $22.6 million dollars came into the state’s economy because of VITA.

This all sounds amazing, right?! Maybe too good to be true?? Okay, so here is the sobering part that might make this program to good to be true – and that is that Governor Herbert is recommending cutting the state funding from $100,000 to $42,600. “BUT WAIT!”(You might be thinking.)  “The state has only been spending $100,000 anually for a program that brings in millions of dollars a year?!!” Yup, that’s right! The state spends $100,000; and UWSL raises and spends $200,000 for the statewide VITA sites. Additionally (and equally important), many private businesses donate their time, services and office space to make the VITA program possible. The amazing Community Action Partners of Utah also plays a pivotal role.

The state allocation of $100,000 (sounds like such a small amount, doesn’t it? especially when most state programs are talked about in terms of millions of dollars?!) has allowed for the hiring of statewide VITA Regional Coordinators. The Regional Coordinators are essential to the success of the VITA program in rural and urban areas throughout the state. They are single-handedly responsible for the following:

•    Volunteer recruitment and training (last year, over 600 volunteers and 22,000 hours)
•    VITA site creation
•    Financial assistance and education to people who are interested.

VITA may very well be one of the most successful programs in the state. For Governor Herbert and the State Legislature to not continue to fund at the $100,000 level, would be to deprive our state’s residents of potentially millions of dollars of federal tax credits.

Please call Governor Herbert and your state representatives and let them know how important this program is for all Utahns.

Tuesday Tip

TIP: Stick to your guns!! Sticking to your budget might be the hardest part. Unless you’ve got super powered self-control, get creative about how to keep your spending under wraps.


Once you’ve created a budget, you’ve got to stick to it! It takes discipline, but with some helpful tools and ideas, you can do it. Check out all the great budgeting resources on the Believe in Your Future website.

 

•    Cash System: To keep from over spending, try putting cash in envelopes for things like groceries, entertainment, eating out, etc. When you head to the store, or out for some fun, take only your designated envelope. You’ll be forced to stay within the bounds of your budget, and knowing exactly how much you have now, and what you might need later on, will help you keep your spending in check.

•    Use Technology: Your best budgeting tool is no longer a simple 10-key calculator! You can use a spreadsheet to track, categorize, and calculate your expenses. There is also an array of free budgeting systems available on the web, many of which have accompanying applications for your smart phone. Carry your budget in your pocket! Check out http://www.yodlee.com for a snazzy program that integrates all your bank accounts, tracks your budget, and alerts you when you’ve over spent.

These are just two ideas. What techniques are you using? Please feel free to share!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. Many people honor the memory of the man who “had a dream” by going out in their communities to serve and volunteer. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” So today we ask that same question…

What are you doing for others?

Utah Metal Works


By: Cristi Wetterberg
Resource Development Executive

As a Resource Development Executive, I have the opportunity to meet with a variety of individuals and companies.  One of my favorite corporate partners to work with is Utah Metal Works.  Utah Metal Works is one of the oldest and most respected family-owned non-ferrous metal recycling companies in the intermountain west.  Having been in business since 1955, Utah Metal Works staff and employees have seen our community change over the years and have made a strong effort to give opportunities to individuals and families in need in several ways.  I have worked extensively with Mark Lewon, Vice President of Operations, as well as the rest of the Lewon family, who run Utah Metal Works.  Mark has been a member of our Young Leaders affinity group, has actively advocated for issues during the legislative session, participated in our annual Day of Caring, and I am sure much more than I know.  This year Utah Metal Works forty employees raised over $15,000, which was matched dollar for dollar by the company. This dollar for dollar match goes to United Way’s Cornerstone program, making their United Way of Salt Lake workplace investment more than $30,000.  Utah Metal Works gives, advocates, and volunteers, but most importantly they show how even small companies can make a huge difference!  This is why I love my job, I get to be a part of the amazing generosity and support of so many people and companies who want to make our community a better place for all of us.