Published on March 13, 2020 in COVID-19 Response
For more than 100 years, United Way for Southeastern Michigan has been committed to serving the community. Through triumphs and challenges, we mobilize the caring power of our region to help people in need. As we all face growing concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19), our mission and purpose remain the same.
We are monitoring developments of this global pandemic — particularly for families in vulnerable communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
In our region, 44 percent of households struggle to meet their basic needs. That’s more than 681,000 households, including 165,000 with children in them. For many of these families, one small setback can lead to a major financial hardship. A prolonged crisis like this can be catastrophic.
We’re committed to doing all we can to help those who need it most.
We know there will be serious short- and long-term impacts during this pandemic, including individuals who become sick, as well as those who are affected by business and school closures. That’s why, with a coalition of community, corporate and foundation partners, we’re launching the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.
Right now, Michigan families who were already struggling to get by may be on the verge of crisis. The closure of schools will mean that families may not be able to afford food for their children. Parents may have to take time off of work, resulting in lost income. And those who get sick may face mounting health care costs.
We need to help families weather this crisis. But we can’t do it without your support.
United Way and our partners have established the COVID-19 Fund to help ensure families in need can access health care, financial resources and other supports. This fund will help with immediate needs like accessing health care, emergency financial supports and food. It will also help address long-term needs, including loss of jobs and income.
This emergency fund will also support our partners. These community organizations are the boots on the ground, working tirelessly to help families. With your support and the help of our corporate and foundation partners, we can ensure that their crucial work can continue to carry us through this difficult time.
We have investigated best practices to keep everyone healthy and do our part to help contain the spread of COVID-19. That’s why we are taking all possible precautions to keep our employees, partners and the individuals and families we serve safe.
Our office in the Fisher Building will be closed effective immediately through June 1. Our drop-in offices for the Michigan Energy Assistance Program have also closed. Our work will continue as our employees work remotely, and our 2-1-1 helpline will continue to answer calls.
While volunteerism remains core to our mission, in an abundance of caution, United Way and our partners have decided to cancel or postpone all of our upcoming volunteer events. We will be working to provide our volunteers with any virtual opportunities in the near future.
While we will be less visible in the immediate future, we continue to work tirelessly to support the community. We look forward to reengaging our amazing volunteers and returning to our home in the Fisher Building soon.
Though the way we work may temporarily change, our commitment to the community will not. United Way has responded to our community’s most pressing needs for more than 100 years. We will continue to be there to help in every way we can.
Most importantly, as we mentioned, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund will help ensure that there is financial support for individuals, families and community organizations.
Our 2-1-1 helpline is still available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer calls from individuals in need. Our community care advocates are also equipped with the information to help direct callers who are concerned about exposure, and we’re tracking that information to help with statewide data tracking.
We’re working with local public health departments to make sure we know the protocols they are putting in place and to ensure we are involved in any relevant conversations that are related to the community response should the risk level increase.
We’re coordinating with food banks and schools to ensure that, whenever possible, families in need of food assistance can get the help they need.
Lastly, we’re convening various groups of stakeholders to discuss immediate and long-term solutions.
As a community, we are all in this together. This crisis affects everyone regardless of age, race, nationality or income. When we stand together as a community, we are all stronger.
Please join our email list for updates on our response as this situation continues to evolve.
Together, we will lift our community through this challenging time.
Darienne Driver Hudson, Ed.D.
President and CEO
United Way for Southeastern Michigan