Who is Alice?

Who Is Alice?  By Dr. Alan Holden

United Way commissioned the ALICE report in 2014. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The ALICE population are industrious, hard-working, and the most valuable, but vulnerable people driving our local economy in Florida. Although they work hard, they live paycheck to paycheck, barely getting by because of the high cost of living. They make too much money to qualify for public assistance, but not enough to handle life’s emergencies. They are forced to make difficult decisions. For example, if they have a flat tire, they must choose between getting a new tire or losing their job or losing their housing or going several days without food or medication. The ALICE population is not just young families; they are also senior citizens who are outliving their savings.

Here are some interesting facts about ALICE. ALICE makes up 41% of the population in Lake County; in Sumter County, it is 42%. To live above the ALICE threshold, a single person in Lake County must make at least $20,736 a year; in Sumter County, it is $19, 536 a year. For a family of four in Lake County, they would have to make at least $53,712 a year; in Sumter County, $50,184.

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties (UWLS) is taking the lead to help ALICE. UWLS’s VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteers served over 600 families, saving them over $113,200 in tax preparation fees, and helping them receive over $523,946 in tax refunds. UWLS’s network of 14 food pantries distributed over 2.2 million pounds of food, feeding over 189,000 people. Our Family Wize free prescription discount card saved our residents over $640,000 in prescription costs. Our Pathways 2 Success program provides scholarships to ALICE to receive technical training at Lake Tech College and Sumter Adult Education to qualify for higher paying jobs. Our grants to the Early Learning Coalitions provide funding for childcare for ALICE families.

United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties is here to give ALICE a helping hand. Without your generous support, United Way would not be able to help our working families and seniors through their hard times.

How can you help? You can donate to the United Way or you can volunteer by calling 352-787-7530. We need volunteers for VITA, Mission United, Disaster Relief, and mentoring programs. Or you can be an advocate for United Way in your community, promoting by thanking a Publix associate for supporting United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties.