HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – The United Way of South Hampton Roads is celebrating 100 years. In this Community Chat, WAVY’s Sarah Goode spoke with Kelsey Mohring, the Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, about the organization. Watch the conversation in the video player on this page.

In 1923, the organization began with the name, “The Community Fund”. Mohring says it was always about collecting community funds and distributing those to non-profits. Since then, the organization has grown and adapted to support the needs of the community.

Last week, the United Way of South Hampton Roads had a Centennial Celebration at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Throughout their history, United Way has helped with disaster relief, health emergencies, and other times of crisis.

“Our mission is really to bring people and resources together to solve big problems in our community.” Mohring says. They want to look at the true cause of problems with poverty, food security, and homelessness.

They focus on building blocks of self-sufficiency. To do this they focus on the pillars of health, education, and economic mobility or income. One way they strive to achieve this is through collaboration and community partners.

United Way of South Hampton Roads has programs to support the population under ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). Over the last few years, they have focused on this need in the community. One group, Mohring says was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These people are working, often times multiple jobs. And, they’re making too much to qualify for government assistance, but usually not enough to really provide for the basic needs of life,” Mohring says.

This leaves them in a gap between needing assistance and being self-sufficient. Sometimes this situation, leads people to being one crisis away from poverty.

Programs like VBThrive are designed to address that. The goal is to support 4,000 families over three years. According to the United Way website, 50,000 people in Virginia Beach qualify as ALICE.

In the program, the organization would provide wraparound support and coaching to help them reach self-sufficiency. If you qualify, visit the United Way website to apply for assistance. Click the link here.

The type of approach they use in VBThrive, and throughout other programs, is called “mobility mentoring”. In this method of mentoring, the coaching focuses on the participant’s individualized needs and goals. The participant sets goals and leads the process toward success.

Education is also a key area of focus. From working to strengthen children’s reading skills to helping with scholarships, the United Way wants to support the community. The STEM scholarship applications for next year are open. Click here to find out more.

Moving toward the future, for the next 100 years, United Way is working on new programming and partnerships. They are preparing to launch a Norfolk Thrive program. Norfolk has been a real hub for the organization for the last few years. Chesapeake and Virginia Beach are areas they want to expand.

One program they redeveloped and now are relaunching is Mission United, a coordinated care network for service members, active duty, veterans, and their families. Call the hotline at 757-858-7777 if you are in need of assistance, or fill out an application online.

Watch the full Community Chat in the player on this page to hear more about the history, programs, and resources of United Way of South Hampton Roads. Visit unitedwayshr.org to find more information.