United Against Poverty (UP Center) located in St. Lucie County, Florida opened its doors in 2009 with the mission to serve those in poverty by providing crisis care, case management, transformative education, food and household subsidy, employment training and placement, personal empowerment training and active referrals to other collaborative social service providers.
Currently we serve an average of 467 persons every day through the following programs: 1.) Emergency food assistance and crisis care, 2.) Counseling and case management, 3.) Basic education, 4.) Personal empowerment training, 5.) Job skills training and mentoring, 6.) Job placement help and ongoing coaching, 7.) Member Share Grocery Program, and 8.) Collaborative partner services. We differ from other organizations by having a wholistic approach to collaboration. It takes the community partners working together with their own unique knowledge and expertise with the family at the center to break the cycle of poverty for our residents. In addition, our philosophical approach focuses on helping people help themselves; offering hope and a handup, rather than a hand out. Helping families to see their unlimited potential and to find the strength to overcome the situational barriers poverty creates. UP Center programs serve those whose household income is below 200% of poverty to access programs that 1.) Improve their income, 2.) Lift them to selfsufficiency and 3.) Provide food products and household essentials at 33% of retail price.
Today, UP Center St. Lucie (as our members call us) serves an average of 450 individuals each day. In 2016, we served more than 10,000 families. All of our members must have household incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. We assisted the community to conserve more than $3,574,926 in resources, allowing them to stretch their limited dollars.
From the very beginning, UP St. Lucie County was destined to be a different kind of charity-one that focused on offering a hand up, not just a handout. The organization started as a unique Member Share Grocery Program, which offered much-needed dignity for families. Its popularity quickly grew and, as traffic to the campus increased, participants expressed a need to have additional services available on-site.
Incorporating the non-profit in 2003, founders Austin and Ginny Hunt desired to offer a compassionate hand to guide families to a place of hope and stability. The couple each experienced firsthand the hardships that accompanied growing up in poverty and had a commitment to making a difference for others. They knew that United Against Poverty could better serve those in need to ultimately help them break free from the cycle of poverty. As the campus grows and additional needs are identified, the center is expanding services to include crises care, case management, counseling, educational opportunities, specialty skills training and job placement.