Now accepting nominations for 2018 Frank Ware Award of Excellence


(Rockford, Ill. - 08/08/2018) – United Way of Rock River Valley is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Frank Ware Award of Excellence, awarded to individuals in our area who exemplify a high-level of excellence in service to others, human service advocacy, and an unwavering commitment to our community. This award honors the spirit of Frank Ware, beloved former President/CEO of Janet Wattles Center, who spent over 30 years advocating and fighting for quality care on behalf of the most marginalized members in this community. His high standards and expectations resulted in better care for those in need.

One award recipient will be determined by a committee of community leaders and announced during United Way's Campaign Kickoff event in September. Nominations are due by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 28 and are available at


Previous recipients include:

Mary Ann Abate, Rosecrance Health Network - 2017

Barbara Roman, Family Counseling Services Northern Illinois - 2016

Justice Kathryn Zenoff, 17th Judicial Circuit – 2015

Susan Razbadouski, LCSW, ACSW, Family Counseling Services – 2014

Megan Cox, Rosecrance – 2013

Sherry Fink, Rosecrance Ware Center – 2012

Julie Barthels, Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling – 2011


For more information on United Way's Frank Ware Award of Excellence, contact Linda Childers by calling 815-968-5400.


United Way of Rock River Valley

United Way of Rock River Valley advances the common good in Winnebago and Ogle counties, creating opportunities for a better life by focusing on education, income, and health. United Way recruits people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. LIVE UNITED® is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

FamilyWize Health Impact Report reveals partnership has helped 36,000 local residents in both physical and mental health

FamilyWize Impact Report

(Rockford, Ill. - 05/27/2018) - United Way of Rock River Valley and FamilyWize announced today that Winnebago and Ogle county residents have saved $3.8 million on prescription medications through the organizations' partnership since launching the program locally in 2007. The results were revealed in their annual Health Impact Report, a compilation of data reflecting the health and financial support offered by United Way and FamilyWize in its joint community initiatives across the country.

> Download May 2018 FamilyWize Health Impact Report 

In May, FamilyWize acknowledged Mental Health Awareness Month by joining the mental health community in their efforts to educate patients on the importance of treatment adherence. FamilyWize commits itself to increasing the public's understanding surrounding mental illness and patients' accessibility to affordable medications. One in six adult Americans are affected by mental health conditions, with 56 percent of adults with mental illness not receiving treatment.

Key community highlights from the Health Impact Report for our community include:

  • $1 million savings on prescription mental health medications
  • $3.8 million total savings on all prescription medications
  • 36,000 community members helped

"Rising prescription prices continue to be a major burden for individuals and families in our community, whether their medications are for mental health or another chronic illness. We consider ourselves advocates for individuals struggling with the high costs of mental illness," said Roman Salamon, communications and marketing director of United Way of Rock River Valley. "Our partnership with FamilyWize enables us to address this issue by offering abundant resources to all community members seeking affordable healthcare. The impact we're making is changing lives, and we look forward to supporting many more families in the years to come."

"It's heartening to see the far-reaching impact we've achieved through our strong ongoing partnership with United Way," added Dan Barnes, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of FamilyWize. "Together we are reaching millions of Americans, and we will continue working toward our goal of helping to educate people across the United States on ways to significantly lower drug costs and maintain prescription adherence."

FamilyWize is one of the longest running prescription savings programs in the country and is accepted at most pharmacies nationwide, covering all FDA-approved prescription medications. Over 1,000 United Ways have collaborated with FamilyWize to help over 11 million Americans save more than $1 billion, with an average savings of 45 percent since the partnership began.

The FamilyWize program is free, has no eligibility or registration requirements, and provides families and individuals access to affordable prescription medications. Visit to download their Apple or Android mobile app, print out the discount card, or simply learn more about the program. The card is also available at United Way of Rock River Valley.

For more information about United Way of Rock River Valley, visit or call 815-968-5400.


About FamilyWize
Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 11 million Americans live healthier lives by saving them more than $1 billion on life-saving prescription drugs. By aggregating large groups of patients, FamilyWize advocates and negotiates for deep discounts on prescription drugs which it then passes on in full to patients. FamilyWize partners with some of the most respected community groups and health care providers in the country, including United Way Worldwide, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, and American Heart Association, among thousands of other community organizations. To use FamilyWize, download our card or mobile app at card.


FamilyWize Press Contact
Leigh Minnier
Vice President
Gregory FCA
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Company Contact
Mike Carollo
Director of Marketing
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

United Way announces enhanced features for free online tax filing tool

My Free Taxes

United Way of Rock River Valley is announcing recently-enhanced features to MyFreeTaxes that allow most filers to complete their taxes in under one hour. is a safe, easy and completely free way for individuals or families earning $66,000 or less to file their state and federal taxes.

For the past nine years, United Way has partnered with H&R Block to provide free tax filing services for federal and state taxes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since that time, the partnership has helped nearly a million people file their returns, bringing more than $1 billion in refunds back to local communities. Since 2013, United Way of Rock River Valley has seen the use of online returns in our community grow by 14 percent.

"Tax season is a source of stress for most individuals," says Paul Nolley, community impact manager, United Way of Rock River Valley. "Many are worried they'll make a mistake, won't get their full refund or will pay too much. With MyFreeTaxes, filers can get support from IRS-certified specialists and cut down the time it takes to complete their returns."

When it comes to advanced technology and personalized customer experience, H&R Block is among the industry leaders. MyFreeTaxes users get access to H&R Block Premium Product with enhanced features to ensure filers get every dollar they deserve:

  • Ability to upload image of your W-2, allowing MyFreeTaxes to automatically fill in your information;
  • Free, unlimited, personalized real-time chat and phone support in English and Spanish from IRS-certified specialists at 1-855-MY-TX-HELP. The helpline operates now through April 30, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 11:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays;
  • Refund RevealTM will show filers how and why their refund amount is changing in real time;
  • Advanced functionality for those working in the gig economy or need to include information regarding real estate investments, stock options or inheritance taxes; and 
  • Search tool for Goodwill of Northern Illinois GoodTAXES locations for individuals preferring to file their taxes in-person through a volunteer tax preparer.

Taxpayers earning less than $66,000 can enter their data through, which links to a secure H&R Block website, making it easy to complete their taxes from home, at work or on mobile devices.

MyFreeTaxes comes with the same brand promise as all H&R Block's products: that consumers are guaranteed a maximum refund, 100 percent accuracy and 100 percent satisfaction. H&R Block's DIY products are based on 60-plus years of preparing income tax returns.

Individuals may call 815-987-6200 or go online to to schedule an in-person appointment with a volunteer tax preparer through Goodwill's GoodTAXES program.

Emergency Food and Shelter Program Phase 35


Winnebago County has been chosen to receive $184,661 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county. This amount reflects a 4% ($8,398) decrease from Phase 34 which awarded $193,059. The Local Board invites eligible organizations to apply for these funds, using the application below. A Local Board, consisting of representatives from local nonprofit human service agencies, governmental entities, and the community at large will determine how the funds are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in Winnebago County. The Local Board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds made available under this phase of the program.

Under the terms of the grant from the National Board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must:

  • be private voluntary non-profits or units of government;
  • be eligible to receive Federal funds;
  • have an accounting system;
  • have a nondiscrimination policy in line with all applicable Civil Rights legislation;
  • have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs;
  • if they are a private voluntary organization, have a voluntary board.

Qualifying service providers in Winnebago County are urged to apply. The spending period for Phase 35 ends January 31, 2019.

To apply, download the application packet on this page and respond to the prompts in the file or using a separate Word file. Completed applications must be mailed or turned in by person, and must be received by 12:00pm on May 23. No late or incomplete applications will be considered. Submit your application to:

United Way of Rock River Valley
Attn: Paul Nolley
612 N Main Street, Suite 300
Rockford, IL 61103

For any questions, contact Paul Nolley at 815-986-4814 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


EFSP Fact Sheet

Phase 35 Application -PDF | WORD

Partnership brings affordable fresh produce and meats to local food-insecure neighborhoods

Top Box Foods

United Way of Rock River Valley partnered with Top Box Foods to increase access to healthy and affordable food in two local neighborhood food deserts. The Chicago-based nonprofit group will provide boxes of quality farm-fresh fruits and vegetable and delicious fresh-frozen meats at discounted prices over the next three months at two United Way Strong Neighborhoods Houses. This is Top Box Foods' first venture in Rockford-area, which operates locations throughout Cook County and Lake County, and is open to the entire public.

Access to quality food sources have diminished for residents living near the Strong Neighborhoods Houses at 908 8th Avenue and 1233 Revell Avenue due to the vacant Highlander store on Rural Street and recent fire devastation of El Olivo Grocery on Seventh Street. Top Box Foods specifically focuses its work in food deserts and closely works with suppliers to purchase foods at reasonable costs. Bundled in boxes, fresh fruits and vegetable and frozen meats, poultry, and fish are then available for purchase by residents at up to 40 percent less than retail. Food items include apples, berries, tomatoes, chicken breasts, shrimp and sirloin steaks. Cash, credit card and Link Card are accepted.

The Top Box Foods distribution center in Rockford is part of United Way's Strong Neighborhoods Initiative, which dramatically improves the quality of life for children and families in two of the region's most challenged neighborhoods. Through neighborhood engagement discussions, United Way discovered how constraints related to limited income, time and distance make it difficult for residents to access healthier foods.


Dates and Locations

Saturday, August 19 (Sponsored by SwedishAmerican Health System)

Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.


Saturday, September 16

Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.


Saturday, October 21

GPS Faith Community Church (10714 N. 2nd Street, Machesney Park, Ill.): 9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (908 8th Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Strong Neighborhoods House (1233 Revell Avenue, Rockford, Ill.): 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.