United Way is hoping a new concept will serve as a call to action for households that struggle with poverty.

The program offers supports to families and helps build financial futures — if they make an effort to improve their situations.

It can have significant impact. In Madison County, 42 percent of all poverty-hit households don't earn enough to cover their families' basic needs.

The United Way is offering classes for families trapped in financial struggles.

Among those attending classes was Jonelle Hopgood. The Herald Bulletin detailed her struggle, working as a nurses' assistant while trying to make ends meet for herself and four children.

She signed up for the program held at the Anderson Impact Center, graduating in five weeks as a pharmacy technician and having two jobs lined up with a significant pay raise.

It's those kinds of stories that United Way of Madison County wants to inspire through its latest networking effort. The newly-created THRIVE program offers employed low-income families access to coaches who instruct on financial capability, income support and employment.

Initially, the THRIVE network consists of three facilities: the Anderson Impact Center, the Hinds Career Center in Elwood and the Alexandria Community Center.

The program focuses on Madison County’s growing ALICE (asset-limited, income-constrained, employed) population. It's a way to offer people access to programs that can give them a needed boost. A person joining the network will go through an orientation process to determine the best programs that can help them succeed.

Readers of The Herald Bulletin may recall a series of "Living ALICE" articles in 2015 discussing the plight of Madison County residents who fit all too well into the group of those who are working but not making enough to see their families thrive.

It is promising that the new THRIVE program has evolved from these needs and to serve those who work hard but can't make ends meet.

Impoverished families need to realize they can take steps to thrive. And the United Way is offering them a path.

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