“Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves,” Barbara Lowry, board chairman of United Against Poverty of Indian River County, told members of the Democratic Women’s Club of IRC.
Lowry described the organization she leads to attendees of the club’s January meeting at The Patio Seafood Tavern.
UAP began as the Harvest Food and Outreach Center in 2003. Today it serves an average of 600 people a day at the Vero Beach campus, Lowry said.
She said 11 percent of the population of Indian River County lives in abject poverty and 29 percent struggles just to meet basic needs. “We have to create the pathway to financial independence,” Lowry said.
With the intent to lift low-income residents permanently out of poverty, the organization offers several programs. Those include a food and household goods cooperative, counseling and resource referrals, education and job training and employment support.
Combining grocery donations and bulk purchasing, the Member Share Grocery Program allows shoppers to save on average 50 percent to 75 percent on their monthly grocery budget.
UAP assesses the needs of its clients and provides active referrals to appropriate services. It also has educational workshops, including GED preparation.
The three-part Success for Employment Program helps adults prepare for, get and maintain a job.
“It’s not that being generous is not a good thing … but what we can’t do is continue treat a chronic problem with emergency resources,” Lowry said.
The next luncheon meeting of the Democratic Women’s Club will be Feb. 10 at the Grand Harbor clubhouse.