Today, Mayor Baker and I were excited to tour our first nonprofit in the Focus Troy series. We are pleased to introduce Troy Chamber Member, United Community Family Services.
Since 1961, United Community Family Services (UCFS) has been at the frontline serving the most vulnerable members of the immigrant and refugee communities – the hungry, the homeless, and those in deep poverty. Their mission is to provide wraparound services and guidance to immigrants and refugees of all ages, to help them achieve self-sufficiency.
UCFS is located off the beaten path of Big Beaver on Austin Drive. While it can be difficult to get exposure there, the location is great for privacy and the discreteness for the people they provide many services for.
On this day we were able to see their drive-up food pantry. The pantry was bustling with cars lined up down the street and with volunteers helping load groceries into the trunks of people’s cars. With costs rising for food and other essential items the need for donations has also increased. From July 2021 to July 2022, there was a 42% increase in visits to the food pantry, with 14% of those who utilized the food pantry were Troy residents.
After being greeted by Kristin Olmedo, President & CEO, and Clair Konja, Director of Donor Relations, I quickly realized the scale of services UCFS provides was not limited to the food pantry. Kristin dove into how much they provide for the immigrant community, including programs for providing basic needs (such as clothing, personal care, rent assistance, etc.), tutoring for low-income school-aged children and special needs individuals, elderly assistance, and citizenship coaching.
“We have served thousands of families facing adversity,” said Konja. “For the elderly, we offer literacy programs, field trips, and citizenship coaching. For the youth, the Project Achievement Program was created which aims to improve the quality of life for low-income immigrant and refugee school-aged children.”
The Project Achievement program, along with the summer youth sports program, helps the kids build their English and make friends. The games that are taught in school don’t exist in their home countries, so continuing to roll out and build these programs is critical for their continued success here in the U.S.
“Things here are so different from their home countries, so it can be difficult to adjust and assimilate,” said Kristin. “But we’re proud to say we’ve reached 100 naturalizations as of this week.”
UCFS conducted a recent survey to determine how much of an impact they were having on those that they serve. In that survey, 90% said UFCS’s services supplemented their grocery budgets by 30-50% and maternity budgets (diapers, formula, etc.) by 50%. An astounding percentage that shows how essential UCFS is.
“Troy has a large immigrant population and it’s something we’re proud of.” said Mayor Baker. “We want to show them that it’s okay to be here and that we are here for them.”
To continue providing all the necessary resources and programs to immigrants and refugees in the area, UCFS is always looking for volunteers to help with their drive-in food pantry and donations for food, clothing, furniture, and more.
To learn more about United Community Family Services and how you can get involved, visit their website- http://www.ucfamilyservices.org
To get your business featured in a “Focus Troy” blog post on our website, contact Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org
*cover image from left to right: Kristin Olmedo (President & CEO, UCFS), Tara Tomcsik-Husak (President & CEO, Troy Chamber), Clair Konja (Director of Donor Relations, UCFS) & Ethan Baker (Mayor, City of Troy)