Find out the latest news and events 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.

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.

Jennifer Zammuto: Working Tirelessly Toward a Healthy, Vibrant Community

Jennifer Zammuto

Jennifer Zammuto. Photo by Christie Newell, Sonshine Portrait Design.

When she joined the Heart of Illinois United Way as president last year, Jennifer Zammuto brought to the organization more than 24 years of experience in philanthropy, communications, strategic planning, consulting, team building and project management. Now at the helm of the largest non-governmental funder of health and human care programs in central Illinois, she provides innovation, collaboration, leadership and vision for a diverse team of high-performing leaders, volunteers and staff—all working together to address our region’s greatest needs. Her diverse life experiences and career path have primed her to be the perfect team player, leading the way to the greater collective good.

Read Jennifer Zammuto’s Q&A in the December 2019 issue of Peoria Magazine at https://www.peoriamagazines.com/pm/2019/dec/jennifer-zammuto