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ALICE: Forgotten in Wonderland

Jul 22, 2014
ALICE: Forgotten in Wonderland
By Julian McKinley, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

Like you, I make choices every day—choices so common they’re woven into the fabric of my life.

I’m a sucker for a good Starbucks caramel macchiato, and I love going out to lunch.  Reality is, when I drive to work each morning, my bagged lunch is in the seat beside me, along with my homemade coffee. I don’t buy coffee, and I don’t go out for lunch. These are tiny sacrifices I make to support my family.

Financial decisions like these are a no-brainer for me. When we talk about the choices ALICE has to make, the decisions get much harder. ALICE struggles to pay her electric bill and to put food on the table for her kids even though she is employed.

ALICE is someone with whom I’m well-acquainted, as you likely are, too. ALICE is of every race, ethnicity and gender, and lives in every town in our community. She composes a large segment of our community, and is a vital part of our economy.

ALICE is a United Way-coined acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE, although employed, does not make enough to afford the basics of housing, childcare, food, healthcare and transportation. She is one life-emergency away from disaster, with little or no savings.

The ALICE population’s existence and experience has largely been obscured by a lack of adequate measurements and language to form an appropriate discussion. Living above the Federal Poverty Line but below the basic cost-of-living, ALICE families are forced to skip preventative health care, forego house maintenance, and delay paying bills, resulting in poor health, fines, and larger bills in the future.

On Labor Day, United Ways in Connecticut will be releasing a report on ALICE. While we have been providing services to working families for decades, the report will further educate our work in the community, ensuring we’re putting your valuable gifts to use in the right areas. To receive a copy of the ALICE report when it is released, click here.

MetroHartford Alliance and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut invite you to join us on Fri., Aug. 1 for our Rising Star Breakfast, ALICE: A Long Way from Wonderland, which will feature a panel moderated by CNBC’s Ron Insana. The breakfast will provide you with an opportunity to learn more about ALICE and what we’re doing to strengthen our community. Register for the breakfast here.

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