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WeConnect.net: Help for Local Families

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Maria Shriver's "WE Connect" campaign helps local families find help

By Genny Heikka

In today’s tough economic climate, many families are worrying about money and feeling seriously discouraged as opportunities dwindle and their dreams disappear. But help is emerging, right here in the Capital City. Maria Shriver’s WE Connect campaign is a pioneering public/private partnership designed to connect California’s working families with programs and resources to help them put money in their pockets, food on the table, and their dreams within reach.

Every year over a billion dollars in resources, tax credits and financial help is left unclaimed while deserving families struggle. Our State’s first lady is committed to changing that. “We care,” says Shriver. Help is just a click away at the campaign’s Web site (WEconnect.net), where families can find information that can help turn their worries into hope. The Web site provides links and information on:

MONEY:

-Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
-Child Tax Credit (CTC)
-Golden State Advantage Cards for food purchases
-Lifeline Telephone Service for lower home telephone service
-California Alternative RE for lower energy bills
-California’s Low-Cost Auto Insurance
-Practical Money Skills for Life (resources for financial literacy education and financial management tools)
-Coupons.com (free coupons!)
-CA Association of Food Banks
-State of CA Consumer Home Mortgage Information (information and links if you are considering buying a home or if you have a mortgage and are having a hard time keeping payments current.)

OPPORTUNITY:

-Links to online job search engines
-Job and career fairs
-Employment development
-Educational information and tools
-College Savings Accounts (529 plans)

DREAMS:


Many working families have already used WE Connect to help them get ahead. You can read their stories on the Web site and find out how resources made a difference in their lives.

WEb Connector, the campaign’s online tool, enables families to determine which programs they may be eligible for and how to apply. Working Californians can also call 1-888-369-7338 (866-964-3463 for Spanish) to schedule an appointment with a representative to learn how to apply for tax credits and other assistance programs. One-on-one application assistance is also available at no cost at WE Connect community events and there are opportunities at these events for families to learn about and apply for programs.

WE Connect is not only a place to get help; it’s a place to give it. People who want to get involved and “become connectors” can find opportunities to help through the Web site.

Genny Heikka lives with her family in Roseville. In addition to writing, she is editor for a regular section of The Acorn, the newsletter for the Society of
Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.