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VAN Background

The Valley Assistance Network was launched in October 2017 as a direct result of our Community Needs Assessment (add link to page) and the ALICE Report (add link to page). The Valley Assistance Network (VAN) is a community collaborative to connect individuals and families with the services they need to move from crisis to financial security. 

For nearly a year, United Way NSV collaborated with United Way agencies across Virginia on the ALICE Project, which shines a spotlight on the number of families in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. The report is significant because traditional measures hide the reality that nearly half of the people in our service areas are identified as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) or are in poverty (31% ALICE, 11% Poverty average across 5 counties served by UWNSV). These families work hard and earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but can barely cover the basics: housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation. They are often one emergency -- such as a major car repair or a medical bill -- from falling into poverty.  ALICE is vital to our economy and holds critical positions like warehouse workers, nursing assistants, child care providers, and jobs in the retail and food industries.

The problem is ALICE families, who often do not qualify for social services benefits, often don't know where to turn when a crisis occurs.  VAN was created to fill a gap that our community desperately needs.  It has have proven to be a safety net for hundreds of people in our community. 

VAN is guided by a Steering Committee made up of committed community leaders. The initiative is led by United Way NSV’s Director of Community Engagement, Jennifer Hall.

Mission: To engage community resources to move individuals and families from crisis to financial security

Vision: An empowered community where all families achieve financial security

Values: The Valley Assistance Network operates under these key values:

Collaboration: We value and promote effective partnerships.

Integrity:  We are honest and ethical; we have respect for all people, community and cultures.

Compassion: We treat all individuals with care, concern, and empathy; we are not judgmental.

Innovation:  We embrace continuous improvements, bold creativity, and change.

Empowerment:  We promote strategies that encourage growth and inspire clients to achieve personal success.                                                                                    

Advocacy:  We galvanize people to speak out for change and facilitate collaborative efforts for real solutions.