United Way Offering Virtual Free Tax Help

With the tax deadline extended to July 15, households throughout the Sacramento region are still eligible for free virtual help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $6,500 in credits. United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program is partnering with GetYourRefund.org to provide virtual assistance. More households are eligible to participate through the partnership – those earning $66,000 or less in 2019. Qualified households can upload documents online and a United Way IRS-certified volunteer will call  them to help claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible before submission, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and CalEITC). To get started: GetYourRefund.org/?s=UWCCR.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region were a paycheck away from homelessness before the pandemic hit – that number is going to rise in the coming months,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “United Way’s Free Tax Prep program not only saves them preparer fees, it puts money back in their pockets through tax credits that many people don’t even know they are eligible for. For some families, receiving $6,500 in tax credits can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets.”

Age qualification for CalEITC expanded last year to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn credits, including those who are self-employed. Many CalEITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits.

This tax year, California introduced the new Young Child Tax Credit. To qualify for the credit, taxpayers must be able to claim a child under age 6 on their 2019 tax return and have earned less than $30,000 for the year. The Young Child Tax Credit can increase the state refund by an additional $1,000.

More than $11 million in refunds were claimed across the Sacramento region in 2019 through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from the previous year. More than 9,000 local households received free help from nearly 500 volunteers in 2019, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. Last year, $18.6 million was received in Sacramento County from CalEITC refunds. With new increases to CalEITC and the Young Child Tax Credit, Franchise Tax Board estimates that Sacramento County could receive up to $40 million this coming tax season.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Women’s Empowerment Gala Goes Virtual May 21

With just a few clicks, community members can attend Women’s Empowerment’s annual gala fundraiser, this year a virtual event themed “WE are Resilient.” The local nonprofit job training and empowerment program for women who are homeless and their children raises a fifth of the organization’s annual budget through the gala, which honors the group’s 1,657 graduates. The event will take place from 6:00-6:45 p.m. and will include videos of the graduates, a live auction, presentation of the To Heal the World Award and Sacramento entertainment artist David Garibaldi in his home studio creating a resilience-themed painting. RSVP for the event at Womens-Empowerment.org to receive updates and a first look at auction items.

“As we see so much chaos and bad news around us, we are looking forward to shining the light of hope on May 21 as this community learns about the incredible women who have overcome homelessness despite obstacles like the housing crisis and pandemic,” said Lisa Culp, executive director, Women’s Empowerment. “Women’s Empowerment is resilient because the women in our program are resilient. This year’s Gala attendees will be inspired.”

Women’s Empowerment was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show in 2015 for offering the most comprehensive job-readiness program in the Sacramento area designed specifically for women who are homeless and their children. The award-winning organization has graduated 1,657 homeless women and their 3,792 children. Last year, 70 percent of graduates found homes in the midst of the housing crisis, and 79 percent secured jobs or enrolled in school or training. The program combines self-esteem courses, job training, health classes, support services and paid job training to help homeless women across diverse ages, races and cultures. Women’s Empowerment is funded through private donations from the community and grants. To donate: Womens-Empowerment.org.  

Society for the Blind receives $25K from M&M Whitmire Foundation

Society for the Blind recently received $25,000 from M&M Whitmire Family Foundation in Granite Bay to provide classes and training for seniors with vision loss and blindness. The grant will fund the group’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform day-to-day tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase independence.

 “Our Senior IMPACT Project is life-changing for the growing number of seniors in the Sacramento region who find themselves losing their vision and are unsure of how to continue living independently,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Increasingly, more seniors are still working and need to learn how to do their jobs using non-visual techniques. Thanks to this funding from the M&M Whitmire Family Foundation, hundreds of seniors with vision loss can live life to the fullest.”

The Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly at Society for the Blind that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join in discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities. For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The Senior IMPACT Project includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year.

“On behalf of the M&M Whitmire Family Foundation, I would like to thank Society for the Blind for letting our foundation be a part of such a great organization,” said Jessika Cano, director of senior outreach at the foundation. “Blindness comes in various degrees and knows no discrimination. It is something that all can experience in some degree, and something we can adapt to and still have productive and great lives. Society for the Blind makes this possible by having amazing programs and a wide range of tools with great employees and volunteers willing to teach. Thanks again to Society for the Blind for continuing their support and care within our community now and in the years to come.”

For 66 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

M&M Whitmire Family Foundation’s mission is to assist children in need and senior care within the Sacramento area.

United Way Finds Innovative Way to Help Foster Youth Through COVID-19

Citing the profound needs of local foster youth during the COVID-19 crisis, United Way California Capital Region has created a way for the 400 women who were supposed to gather for today’s Women United Luncheon to instead support local foster youth through United Way’s social media channels. From videos of local leaders and former foster youth to important facts and inspiring messages, participants can join in celebrating the accomplishments of Sacramento area foster youth, while meeting their most pressing needs during this health crisis so they can succeed in college and career. Local foster youth who were set to perform in a fashion show of their career outfits sponsored by guests – a favorite among longtime luncheon guests – have created a video in its place.

Participants can join the virtual Women United Luncheon on United Way’s social media channels: Facebook.com/UnitedWayCCR, Twitter.com/unitedwayccr, Instagram.com/unitedwayccr and LinkedIn.com/company/unitedwayccr.

“We are profoundly grateful to the vast majority of our sponsors and ticketholders who recognize that foster youth needs continue as we battle COVID-19, and therefore converted their sponsorships and ticket costs to donations, “ said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “Our United Way will take the magic of a room filled with hundreds of women and make just as big of an impact online. This virtual event will showcase the foster youth who are benefiting from the support of women across our region through our Women United action group. We hope that our supporters and friends will be inspired and uplifted by these young people during these challenging times.”

United Way’s 18th Annual Women United Luncheon was scheduled to be held today at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, but was converted to an online event after the statewide shelter-in-place directive took effect. United Way’s Women United action group will discuss its history working with local foster youth, highlight its policy work resulting from United Way’s Foster Youth Summit held last spring and offer opportunities to join United Way’s Women United action group.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Society for the Blind Celebrates Grand Opening of Annex

More than 130 guests celebrated the grand opening of Society for the Blind’s Carl R. Otto Annex earlier this month, an expansion of the nonprofit’s facility in Midtown that now includes a training center, senior teaching kitchen and dedicated music room. The event included performances by the music program, ribbon cutting, champagne toast and speeches by Vice Mayor Jeff Harris, Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen and California Department of Rehabilitation Director, Joe Xavier.

The annex is named after Carl Otto of Otto Construction, who passed away in 2007 and served on Society for the Blind’s board of directors. Otto led the initial campaign to renovate the building, and his company, Otto Construction, played a key role. His daughter, Allison Otto, is past president and current secretary of Society for the Blind’s board of directors and co-chaired the group’s Vision 2020 campaign to expand services for the more than 100,000 people with vision loss living in the greater Sacramento region. The campaign raised $4.5 million to complete the annex, serve the growing number of seniors in need of services to stay independent, empower clients through education and training, create an endowment, expand the onsite Low Vision Clinic and upgrade technology.

“We are grateful to the many people in the Sacramento region who contributed to the Vision 2020 campaign and are making it possible for the growing number of people living with vision loss to access our services, workshops and events,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “The Otto Annex will increase our ability to serve more people who need to learn blindness skills and who are looking for fun social events with other people experiencing vision loss.”

For 66 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $30K Grant From Ability Central

Ability Central recently awarded Society for the Blind in Sacramento a $30,000 capacity building grant to create a leadership program for staff. Of the first seven staff members to be trained for management roles, six are visually impaired.

“Cultivating our employees’ leadership skills and moving them into managerial positions at Society for the Blind is our mission in action,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Having leadership and staff that reflect the people we serve will position us even better to be the provider of choice for people with vision loss.”

With several long-time employees nearing retirement, the organization is working to cultivate leadership from within. The grant from Ability Central will allow Society for the Blind to conduct an assessment, generate a strategic plan and create an accessible leadership program over the next year.

“Ability Central is excited to support Society for the Blind’s leadership and capacity building efforts,” said Silke Brendel-Evan, associate program officer, Ability Central. “We are impressed by Society for the Blind’s inclusive practices – emphasizing the importance of stakeholder input and empowering individuals with vision impairments to become leaders – and the overall thoughtful planning for sustainable leadership development.”

For 66 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Ability Central works to improve communications access for people with disabilities. Formerly known as Disability Communications Fund, Ability Central awards grants to community-based nonprofit or educational organizations in California that establish projects and programs to benefit the communication needs of Californians of all ages with disabilities. For more information, visit DCFund.us.

Baby Basket Drive Raises $16K for Sacramento Life Center

The Sacramento Life Center’s sixth annual Baby Basket Drive for new moms raised $16,000 from the community in December, which will buy 320 baskets for Sacramento Life Center patients throughout 2020. The drive is held each December to kickstart the 500 baby baskets needed so that every Sacramento Life Center patient who gives birth in the coming year can receive a basket of needed items, including formula, diapers, newborn clothes, pacifiers and more. Last year’s drive raised $10,000.

Donations will be accepted throughout 2020 and can be made online at www.saclife.org by writing Baby Basket Drive in the message box on the donation page. Gifts can be made in any increment, but a donation of $50 buys one basket.

“One of the most overwhelming feelings is learning that you’re pregnant and fearing you won’t have the resources to care for your vulnerable baby,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Sometimes something as simple as a gift of diapers and newborn clothes can give expecting mothers the confidence that they have a support system to help raise their child. These baskets give expecting mothers proof that they will always have a family here at the Sacramento Life Center and supporters out in the community rooting for their family.”

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and mobile clinic that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, patient advocacy for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, 24-hour hotline and program for women who have experienced pregnancy loss. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

United Way Offers Free Tax Prep Starting Jan. 21

Households throughout the Sacramento region are eligible for free help preparing taxes and claiming credits this year, saving an average of $200 in preparer fees and earning up to $6,500 in credits. United Way California Capital Region’s Free Tax Prep program will begin taking appointments on Jan. 21. Participating households must have earned $60,000 or less in 2019. Free Tax Prep community events will occur throughout the region during tax season, and help also will be available at dozens of sites during the week in multiple languages in Amador, Placer, Sacramento and Yolo counties. For appointments or to learn more, visit YourFreeTaxPrep.org or call 2-1-1 or toll-free to (800) 500-4931.

The program kicks off on Feb. 1 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free tax return preparation with electronic filing and help guests claim the maximum tax credits for which they are eligible, including the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, American Opportunity Education Credit and the new Young Child Tax Credit.

“More than a third of households in the Sacramento region are a paycheck away from homelessness,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “United Way’s Free Tax Prep program not only saves them preparer fees, it puts money back in their pockets through tax credits that many people don’t even know they are eligible for. For some families, receiving $6,500 in tax credits can mean the difference between paying rent and living on the streets. For others, it seeds a child’s college savings account, buys a car to take children to school or provides for a future emergency.”

Age qualification for Cal EITC expanded last year to include ages 18-24 and working adults ages 65 and up, giving more taxpayers the opportunity to earn credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income; however if they file, they can claim state and federal credits. Regardless of who prepares their taxes, those who claim EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until end of February, due to federal law.

More than $11 million in refunds were claimed across the Sacramento region in 2019 through United Way’s program, up more than $1 million from the previous year. More than 9,000 local households received free help from nearly 500 volunteers in 2019, saving a total of $1.8 million in tax preparation fees. Last year, $18.6 million was received in Sacramento County from Cal EITC refunds. With new increases to Cal EITC and the Young Child Tax Credit, Franchise Tax Board estimates that Sacramento County could receive up to $40 million this coming tax season.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way to Provide Free Healthy Meals Over Holiday Break

Over holiday break, kids who rely on United Way’s Healthy Meals after-school supper program can still receive free meals at six locations across Sacramento through United Way’s partnership with Sacramento Public Library and Mack Road Partnership.

“One in five kids in our region is food insecure,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “While schools are closed over the holiday break, we want to make sure kids continue to have access to healthy food. United Way is helping to fill in the gaps. We are committed to providing year-round support so kids can succeed in school. They need that support even when school isn’t in session over the holidays and during the summer.”

Five Sacramento Public Libraries will be providing meals over the holidays. The North-Highlands Antelope Library and North Sacramento Library will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 26, Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The Del Paso Heights Library will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. The Sylvan Oaks Library in Citrus Heights will serve meals at 4 p.m. on Dec. 23 and Dec. 30. The Southgate Library will serve meals at 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Mack Road Partnership also will provide meals at 7833 Center Parkway in Sacramento at 3 p.m. on Dec. 23, Dec. 26, Dec. 27, Dec. 30, Jan. 2 and Jan. 3, as well as at noon on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. For more information, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

United Way expanded its Healthy Meals program this fall through its partnership with the Sacramento Public Library’s eight branches, which served 183 meals in the first two days of the school year.

“At the library, we see kids who are hungry every day,” said Christie Hamm, youth services manager, Sacramento Public Library. “They can’t focus on homework or reading when they are hungry. This provides a way to give kids something nutritious to eat, and while they’re at the library, our resources are available to them such as books, computers and homework help.”

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org.

Baby Basket Drive for Sac Life Center to Run Through December

Local residents can help low-income new moms in Sacramento this holiday season through the Sacramento Life Center’s annual Baskets4Babies drive running through Dec. 31. The drive stocks the Sacramento Life Center’s baby needs closet so the nonprofit can provide a basket of needed items to every patient who gives birth in 2020. Donations can be made in any increment, but $50 guarantees a new mother has everything she needs to bring her baby home from the hospital, including diapers, clothing, bottles, formula, homemade blankets, bibs, bathing supplies and more. A pledge of $50 per month guarantees a mother can return each month for additional necessities as her baby grows. Donations can be made online at www.saclife.org or by texting saclife to 56651.

“One of the most overwhelming feelings is learning that you’re pregnant and fearing you won’t have the resources to care for your vulnerable baby,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Sometimes something as simple as a gift of diapers and newborn clothes can give expecting mothers the confidence that they have a support system to help raise their child. Baskets4Babies gives expecting mothers proof that they will always have a family here at the Sacramento Life Center and supporters out in the community rooting for their family.”

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and mobile clinic that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, patient advocacy for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, 24-hour hotline and program for women who have experienced pregnancy loss. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.