Getting Ahead and Finding a Better Life

What does it take to change a life?

Often times it takes a simple hand-up (not a hand-out.) Here’s one such example:

After fleeing a bad situation in their home state, Tony and Amy came to Nebraska to be closer to family, but after a short while, ended up homeless.

They were referred to Emergency Relief, and began working with Jan Zurcher. Jan found a hotel to house the pair for a few days while they got back on their feet, then referred them to “Getting Ahead,” a United-Way-funded program.  

Getting Ahead participants attend a series of classes that look at individuals’ background and assess their current situation to determine how to positively change their life’s path. The class goes beyond just looking at their financial situation, and looks at the whole picture to hopefully improve self-worth.  

Tony and Amy have graduated from Getting Ahead, found a place to live, Amy has gotten a job, and Tony is on disability and getting the services he needs.  Says Zurcher of the couple, “They’re fitting into our community with smiles on their faces and feeling more successful.”

The story of Tony and Amy is just one of many examples of the impact United-Way-funded programs are making in individual lives within the “financial stability” category. United Way partner agencies that provide services within this category include: Emergency Relief, and Platte County Food Pantry--all of which place heavy emphasis on understanding and utilizing resources to get out of crisis.

Being able to access and utilize resources is the main goal of the United Way’s Resource Directory. The directory is available online at  The hard-copy version is available at locations where people in crisis are seeking help. Information listed in the directory feeds into 2-1-1, a free, multi-lingual, confidential service.  By dialing 2-1-1, or going online to the service directory, individuals locate community-based and government agencies for services such as counseling, and help with utilities and rent. Often times, financial stability is achieved by knowing what resources are available, and where to go for help.

Finally, FamilyWize Discount Prescription Drug cards are available free through United Way and offer an average savings of 35% on retail prescriptions.  My Free is another program through a partnership with United Way WorldWide and H&R Block. It’s an easy, safe and free way to file your taxes online for households making under $66,000 a year.

Each of these programs and partners is supported by donations to our local United Way, and each can change the life of one of our friends or neighbors, just like with Tony and Amy.

So what does it take to change a life for someone in financial crisis?


Each donation to the United Way can change a life. Please consider giving a year-end or monthly gift to the Columbus Area United Way 2018-2019 Annual Campaign to help continue programs like these. To set up your donation, visit or call the office at 564-5661.