About UWLS

Our Philosophy

We all have a stake in what befalls our fellow man, particularly in our local communities. For example, we all benefit when a child succeeds in school, and when a family gets back on their feet and finds sustainability, and when more people are able to afford their medications and health care, and when those who can give back have an opportunity to do so.

The United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties creates solutions just like these for residents of Lake and Sumter Counties.  When our Master Teacher program improves the reading and expression scores of 2 year old children in an early learning center, it’s not just those kids or those parents who benefit. Those kids enter our school systems better prepared and better equipped to handle stress. The students graduate to contribute back to our community. What we do now can last for generations. When our Family Stability Services helps a young family get caught up on rent or utilities, they can keep their kids in early learning, continue going to their job, and become sustainable contributing members of our communities. When our Mission United program helps our Veterans navigate the system deploying and paying their hard earned benefits, those Veterans feel supported and are then able to support generations of their own families, all of which benefits our communities.

Some would say we rise or fall together. Many say we are in this together. With United Way, we are UNITED. We UNITE programs, resources, volunteers, donors, and finances in our Lake and Sumter communities to build stronger, healthier, and in many ways wealthier, citizens able to then sustain their own contribution to their community.

Who We Serve

Over our 50+ years of service to this community, who we serve has seen rather minor changes. In the past twelve months and during COVID-19, who we serve has shifted somewhat radically. Never before has such a large percentage of our population been in such need. The number of applicants for various assistance who’ve said “I’ve never applied for anything like this” has been significant. Who we serve is our Lake and Sumter County communities. We serve our volunteers, our donors, our applicants, our teachers, our employers, our Veterans, and our seniors.

Quite often, the bulk of those communities who come to United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties, is a part of what is often called the ALICE population. These are households with incomes above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but not earning enough to afford basic household necessities. ALICE is the acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These are the individuals and households who struggle to afford items such as housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation.

Our Goal

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties seeks to create long-lasting change in our communities by addressing our community’s greatest needs in the areas of income, health, and education, providing opportunities to improve the quality of life for at least 40% of our residents.