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United Way focusing in on financial stability, ending hunger, homelessness

A driver, right, gets his hands off of the steering wheel of an autonomous vehicle during its test drive in Singapore Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. The world’s first self-driving taxis, operated by nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup, will be picking up passengers in Singapore starting Thursday, Aug. 25. The service will start small - six cars now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year. The ultimate goal, say nuTonomy officials, is to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018, which will help sharply cut the number of cars on Singapore’s congested roads. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)

The United Way has numerous charities under its umbrella, but lately has focused itself on several key areas: ensuring the success of young children, helping people reach financial stability and ending both hunger and homelessness.

While the goals are difficult to achieve, Amy Schwabenlender, the vice president of the Valley of the Sun United Way, said the group is directing all of its financial resources to the aforementioned key areas.

“Those are now how we focus all of our financial investments, our staff resources,” she told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Karie & Chuck, adding that the organization hopes to reach its goals by 2020.

Schwabenlender said United Way is attempting to humanize the 82,000 households in Maricopa County who are constantly wondering where their next meal is coming from.

“Giving that number of 82,000 has made it more understandable for the general public to hear that number,” she said, adding that the total number of people going hungry is about 250,000.

“A town in Maricopa County is roughly that same number. Once people can visualize a whole town here equals that number, I think that helps them to think about it in a different way.”

Schwabenlender said most of the hungry households are a single-parent situation, possibly at risk of homelessness due to low income. Another 20 percent of the households are seniors.

“They’re living on limited budgets,” she said. “They’re in the same position of picking what bills to pay each month.”

Schwabenlender said all of the donations received in Maricopa County stay in Maricopa County.

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To donate to the Valley of the Sun United Way, go to vsuw.org.

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