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FamilyWize Touches Lives in North Central Florida

By Kim Sovia, Manager of Resource Development at the United Way of North Central Florida


I made a big decision at age 65. I left the Florida Keys—my home of 40-plus years—and followed my job to Gainesville, Florida. Although it was a very difficult decision to relocate, I needed a job. We all know how that is. But, unfortunately, it didn’t take long before another big change came around the bend—one I could have never seen coming. Shortly after I moved to Gainesville, my job position was eliminated. At age 66, I was in a new city and unemployed.


Because I lost my job, I also lost my insurance. That made it nearly impossible for me to fill my prescriptions—which include a crucial blood pressure medication. Without my employee benefits, my 90-day supply of medication ballooned to a $582 price tag. I didn’t even go to the pharmacy because I knew I couldn’t afford it. I went almost three months without my daily pills. To be frank, it felt almost hopeless.


Then, in a miraculous turn of events, United Way reached out to me about a possible position. When I went in for an interview, I learned about the partnership that United Way of North Central Florida has with FamilyWize. The prescription savings service allows those without insurance—or those with insurance plans that don’t provide great prescription benefits—to receive discounts at pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Sam's Club. 


Right after my interview, I signed up for FamilyWize. Ironically, I also received a text from my pharmacy that day saying, “This is your last chance to pick up your prescription.” I went in and presented my FamilyWize card. The $582, 90-day supply that I couldn’t afford turned into a $25, 30-day supply that I happily paid for and took home.


I got the job—and you better believe that I tell everyone about FamilyWize! There have been thousands of people in the Gainesville area who have benefitted from being a part of the program. In fact, for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, FamilyWize helped people in North Central Florida save $540,291.


United Way of North Central Florida partners with health and human service community partners to help as many people as we can with the savings. Through their community work, I’ve heard countless, touching stories that remind me why this is such a wonderful thing for people like me. Recently, a woman who works for a supermarket told me about how she had lost her previous job. She’s diabetic and needs insulin. Needless to say, it was a saving grace for her to learn about FamilyWize.


Similarly, during one of our work place campaigns, we found out about a recently hired new employee who was previously homeless and living in his car. We provided immediate assistance and got him a FamilyWize membership to help him get onto his feet as he started his new job.


This program is changing people’s lives and giving opportunities to stay afloat and move forward when circumstances won’t. It changed my life when I was without a paddle, and I get the privilege of seeing it do the same for so many others in my community on the daily.

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