United Way campaign boosts financial stability

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Foreclosure rates are higher in Beaufort County than the South Carolina average, and a surprising number of residents in Beaufort and Jasper counties live below the poverty rate. Contributions to the United Way of the Lowcountry’s 2012 campaign can help boost financial stability and keep homes out of foreclosure.

Last week, the United Way of the Lowcountry Board of Directors announced gifts and pledges have been received totaling  $1,218,864, about 44 percent of the organization’s 2012 Fall goal of $2.8 million.

“In Beaufort County, one out of every 274 housing units is in foreclosure, compared to the South Carolina rate of one of every 708 housing units in foreclosure,” said John Wills of Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

“Through counseling and education, the Consumer Credit Counseling Service directly impacts families’ abilities to avoid unnecessary finance charges, avoid bankruptcy and foreclosure,” Wills said.

“When families feel more in control of their financial position the potential for stress, anxiety and marital discord is reduced.”

Every $1,000 contributed to United Way of the Lowcountry helps fund six counseling sessions to help with foreclosure prevention, budget/credit problems, bankruptcy and reverse mortgage counseling through Consumer Credit Counseling Services.

Added to United Way of the Lowcountry’s traditional work to provide basic needs: Starting this month, volunteer reading tutors will work in eight Lowcountry schools. That ties to the long-term goal to reduce dropouts by 50 percent within 10 years in all Beaufort County and Jasper high schools, said Peter Post, chairman of the board for United Way of the Lowcountry.

That effort is part of a wider-ranging initiative to find and provide front-end solutions to issues of education, health and financial stability, Post said. By improving Lowcountry residents’ financial stability, fewer families in the future will need help with bankruptcy and foreclosure.

To learn more about United Way of the Lowcountry, call 843-982-3040 or visit www.uwlowcountry.org.