By Samantha Swanson

The United Way of the Piedmont held its annual Women United Luncheon at the Piedmont Club Wednesday.

Paige Stephenson, president and CEO of the United Way of the Piedmont, said the event was an opportunity to recognize the women who give of their time and talent to aid the United Way in its goals and to introduce the group’s new focus, financial stability for households, particularly single mother households, and helping families “conquer the cliff.”

“One of the things that our Women United Advisory Board has committed to focusing on is helping with what we call the cliff effect. This can also be described as the welfare cliff or the assistance cliff,” Hannah Jarrett, director of financial stability strategy at the United Way, said.

Essentially, the cliff effect is when a gap is caused by a worker who is receiving benefits or assistance loses those benefits because their income is too high for them to qualify, but their increased income doesn’t cover all their needs.

“So for example, if a single mother goes out and gets a job that pays $8 an hour, she’s going to be able to cover all her basic needs for the most part because of the money she’s bringing in on her paycheck and what she qualifies for in food stamps and housing vouchers,” Jarrett said. “But as she gets promoted or gets jobs that pay more, she is going to lose those benefits, but her income isn’t necessarily going to make up for it in all cases.”

And with 17,000 households in our community being led by single women, as Jarrett noted, it’s a pervasive issue in Spartanburg.

Currently, the United Way has dedicated caseworkers in the community through their Community Resource Coordinator Program to help combat the cliff effect, and during the event they introduced the next step in their plan, the Cliff Effect Fund.

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