In 2021, new possibilities and new opportunities for good

Published on January 14, 2021 in

When the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, humanity breathed a collective sigh of relief as we rang in the new year with excitement and vigor – eager to close the door on 2020 and look with hope toward 2021.

There is no doubt that 2020 was a tough year. In Michigan, unemployment reached record highs, quarantines lingered, in-person learning screeched to a halt, and we lost more than 12,000 of our family, neighbors and friends to COVID-19.

But the new year brings new possibilities and new opportunities for good.

volunteer handing off food wearing mask


At United Way for Southeastern Michigan, our goal for this year and every year is to create stable households where children can thrive. It’s what we’ve been doing for more than 100 years. This year, perhaps more than ever, we need your help.

For the 44 percent of households who were already struggling to meet their basic needs, the pandemic remains an unprecedented threat to their already fragile sense of stability. For Black households, which have also been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, 60 percent were already struggling to make ends meet.

Now more than ever, a single missed paycheck or unforeseen expense could be catastrophic for these families.

By supporting the programs and organizations that serve these families, you can kick off 2021 with positive momentum and build our local communities back better than ever. And by doing something good for others, you can also help yourself. Research points to a myriad of benefits from volunteering, including reduced stress and increased self-confidence.

Here are several easy and safe ways to get started.

Provide a meal

 In our state, 13.7 percent of people are food insecure, which means they always don’t have access to enough food, and may need to make trade-offs between basic needs like housing or gas and purchasing nutritious food. In Wayne County, the number rises to 19.5 percent.

Many of our partners that work in food access have struggled to meet the surging demand brought about by COVID-19. But you can help. Sign up to pack food boxes for seniors at Forgotten Harvest in Royal Oak or Focus: HOPE in Detroit. These boxes include a variety of fresh food and shelf-stable items that will be distributed to families in need to help them start the year off strong.

Tutor students virtually

As students and parents continue to navigate virtual learning, you can help by becoming a Virtual Literacy Tutor with BookNook. All you need to make a difference is Wi-Fi access and a device that’s compatible with BookNook software.

Tutors meet virtually with students twice per week for 45 minutes to work on literacy skills. Training times are flexible and staff members will work to find a time that fits with your schedule. The organization is asking for a minimum 6-week commitment, making this a great opportunity to build a relationship with a student that will have meaningful, long-term impact.

Provide help for the homeless

From frostbite to hypothermia, frigid winter months create a range of new challenges for families and individuals who are homeless. For more than 30 years, Pope Francis Center has provided shelter and a variety of services, including medical care and meals, to homeless Detroiters. To help meet the growing need of the community during the pandemic, the organization is moving to the TCF Center. They’re seeking volunteers to assist with a variety of tasks including serving food, cleaning and organizing, passing out toiletries and clothes, greeting guests, and more.

Let your creativity shine with DIY Kits

If you’re looking for a safe way to involve your family or friends in volunteer activities this year, our DIY Kits are a great place to start. Simply gather items from the provided lists and add them to a box or bin to create your kit. All kits are taken directly to local nonprofit agencies for community distribution. Help children with basic needs or encourage family fun with our Infant Care and Children and Family Enrichment kits. Get creative when filling your Supporting Our Neighbors and Senior Care kits, which include essential items that will help keep our neighbors and seniors safe at home.

For more ways to help out throughout the year, visit our Volunteer Portal.