The Heart of Illinois United Way funds community programs and services to promote education, financial stability and health in Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford Counties in Central Illinois.

Find out the latest news from the Heart of Illinois United Way, which brings together people from business, labor, government, health and human services to address community needs in Marshall, Peoria, Putnam, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford Counties in Central Illinois.

Congratulations to Heather Ford, 2021 Hoot Gibson Honoree

Dr. Ford is a Professor of User Experience Design at Bradley University where she teaches and coordinates the User Experience Program for the Department of Interactive Media within the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts.Since 1985, the Heart of Illinois United Way has recognized our community’s unsung heroes who spend countless hours working without fanfare to help others. Our annual Hoot Gibson award is presented in memory of Horace J. “Hoot” Gibson who was the manager of the Peoria IBM office for many years along with being an active volunteer for the United Way.

Heather Ford, this year’s honoree, has much in common with Hoot. Dr. Ford is a Professor of User Experience Design at Bradley University where she teaches and coordinates the User Experience Program for the Department of Interactive Media within the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts.

With more than twenty years of fine art, digital creative, and UI/UX experience in the commercial and academic sectors, Heather shares her experiences in the methodologies of user experience design and research to not only teach the upcoming generation but to also help local nonprofits with website, mobile, branding, and product design. This past year, she has rebranded Home for All Continuum of Care (part of Heart of Illinois United Way) including a new logo, website, and more. When it came time to launch the new mobile hygiene unit called HOWIE (Hygiene.On.Wheels.Independence.Empowered.) as part of the United Way’s COVID-19 efforts, Heather designed the vehicle’s outer wrap and interior graphics to lend the space a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for individuals experiencing homelessness in central Illinois.

Heather is also an active member of the Continuum’s General Membership and also serves on the Board for Phoenix Community Development Services. She is the first to raise her hand to offer her services when a task or project comes up. And you know when she is at the helm, that the work will be completed well and on time without so much as a reminder or nudge.

Thank You to Our 2021 Campaign Pacesetters!

This summer, more than 30 companies and partner agencies participated in workplace campaigns. Because of these organization’s generosity, the 2021 Heart of Illinois United Way Campaign has raised more than $1.0 million to-date.

2021 Campaign Pacesetters

Advanced Medical Transport of Central Illinois
Big Brothers Big Sisters, Heart of Illinois
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Peoria, Inc.
CEFCU
Center for Prevention of Abuse
Center for Youth & Family Solutions
Commerce Bank
Community Workshop & Training Center, Inc.
Crittenton Centers
EP!C
FamilyCore
Freedom House
Girl Scouts of Central Illinois
Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois
Habitat for Humanity – Greater Peoria Area
Heart of Illinois United Way
Hult Center for Healthy Living
Junior Achievement of Central Illinois
Midwest Food Bank
Neighborhood House Association
Pearce Community Center
Prairie State Legal Services, Inc.
Quinn Johnston
River City Construction, LLC
RLI
Tazewell County Resource Centers, Inc.
The Salvation Army
Tri-County Peoria Urban League
UnityPlace Human Service Center
UnityPlace Tazwood Center for Wellness
UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois
Vonachen Group

Heartland Health Services Presented 2021 Partner Award

Since 2007, the Heart of Illinois United Way has presented the Jim and Katie Owens Partner Award to a United Way agency in recognition of their outstanding leadership, collaboration, and engagement with the Heart of Illinois United Way.

In 2021, Heartland Health Services was presented with the Partner Award for their tremendous work throughout 2020 and 2021 to support COVID-19 relief.

Heartland Health Services has been providing quality, accessible health services to low-income, underinsured individuals and families since 1991. When the clinic launched, the primary care physicians who worked in the clinic, the specialists to whom they referred, the nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and clerical personnel were all donating their time and services.

A Heart of Illinois United Way partner agency since 2001, the agency’s dedicated board of directors is led by Andrew Rand. Andrew and his fellow board members generously share their knowledge and professional expertise to ensure the agency’s services, and policies comply with state and federal regulations.

Today, Heartland Health Services employs approximately 195 employees to provide primary medical care to more than 22,000 unduplicated patients annually.

Meet HOWIE: “Hygiene. On. Wheels. Independence. Empowered.”

The Heart of Illinois United Way and our Home for All Continuum of Care are partnering with Phoenix Community Development Services to provide a mobile hygiene unit called HOWIE (“Hygiene. On. Wheels. Independence. Empowered.”) to support individuals experiencing homelessness in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Fulton counties.

By connecting people to critical resources through the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service and the Phoenix Community Development Services Outreach Program, HOWIE puts individuals experiencing homeless onto the path towards stable housing through vital resources such as emergency shelter, case management, mental health services, workforce readiness support, and more.

“HOWIE does more than provide a shower and clean clothes, it provides a fresh start for those in need. With the ongoing response to COVID-19, the Heart of Illinois United Way and our Home for All Continuum of Care recognized the need for a long-term solution to address the need for easily accessible, safe, and free hygiene for individuals experiencing homelessness in our community,” Jennifer Zammuto, Heart of Illinois United Way President, said.

The self-contained HOWIE unit will be operated by Phoenix Community Development Service’s Street Outreach team. It features two complete bathrooms with showers, laundry facilities, and a wheelchair lift. By assisting unsheltered individuals without access to these types of facilities, HOWIE will provide vital services on location throughout the community.

“Proper hygiene is now more important than ever, especially for those already at high risk for contracting COVID-19 because of their housing situation. Personal hygiene is also critical to dignity and quality of life. HOWIE will contribute substantially to improved physical and mental well-being and better access to employment for those experiencing homelessness in our community,” Christine Kahl, CEO of Phoenix Community Development Services, said.

Funds for this mobile hygiene unit were raised from generous community donations from the Heart of Illinois United Way’s COVID-19 Fund. By collaborating and investing in HOWIE, the Heart of Illinois United Way is providing a long-term, sustainable solution to improve health and wellbeing.

Since 2016, the Home for All Continuum of Care has partnered with the Heart of Illinois United Way to build a sustainable collaboration of more than 50 cross-sector organizations aligning to end homelessness in central Illinois through support of individuals and families seeking permanent, safe, and affordable housing.

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Introducing HOWIE: “Hygiene. On. Wheels. Independence. Empowered.”

This fall, the Heart of Illinois United Way and our Home for All Continuum of Care are partnering with Phoenix Community Development Services to provide a mobile hygiene unit serving individuals experiencing homelessness in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, and Fulton counties.

Everyone deserves the basic comfort and safety that comes from equal access to showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities. Since the start of COVID-19, many individuals experiencing homelessness have had limited access to facilities with running water and basic hygiene supplies while being at a higher risk of developing hygiene related illnesses.

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Community Impact Fund Grants for July 2020 – June 2021 Approved

The Heart of Illinois United Way Board of Directors and Community Impact Fund volunteers recently approved the allocation of grants to support vital health and human care programs throughout central Illinois.

One out of three people in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties is helped by Heart of Illinois United Way Community Impact Fund programs and initiatives each year. Over the next year, more than $4.255 million will be directed locally to support critical education, financial stability, and health programs that meet needs identified by the Heart of Illinois United Way’s Community Assessment.

Funding decisions are made by more than 100 local volunteers who collectively represent more than 500 years of combined grant review expertise. This data-driven process is based on a set of measurable outcomes that benchmark how well each funded program impacts the knowledge and behavior of the clients served and if the program is financially viable.

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Support COVID-19 Efforts in the Heart of Illinois

Issues such as poverty, family separation, lack of safety, loss of livelihoods, disrupted social networks, and common mental health issues often double in a humanitarian crisis. That’s why the education, financial stability and health programs supported by the Heart of Illinois United Way’s Community Impact Fund are so important during times of crisis … and year-round. Donations made to the Heart of Illinois United Way to support local COVID-19 needs will be invested back into our community through our partner agencies using our data-driven process. Learn more on our donation page.