Local United Way chapters respond quickly with funds and services

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By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Regional – The United Way of Central Mass., within a 24-hour period earlier this month, developed the “We Care Fund” to help service organizations fund urgent and immediate needs of the people in their communities affected by the realities of the Coronavirus.

According to President and CEO Tim Garvin, the United Way of Central Mass. (UWCM) initially reached out to its trusted corporate funders and developed a special webpage on their own site for individual donors and within the first three days had raised $125,000 for service providers. 

“We had our great corporate partners and more than 50 individuals donate anywhere from $25 to $10,000,” Garvin said.

“We are working on immediate, basic needs including helping our partners who handle food, housing, health and mental health and child care,” Garvin added.

Garvin said the “We Care Fund” is set up to take donations online. Service organizations seeking additional funds should go to unitedwaycm.org and write a paragraph explaining their request.  The request is vetted by staff, goes to the board for approval and, if approved, money is sent within 24 hours to the organization. 

Garvin explained that he has been in communication with his nine colleagues that head United Way organizations in the state and that each branch has developed their own COVID-19 response fund and/or service initiatives.

The UWCM coordinates services in 30 communities including Grafton, Northborough and Shrewsbury.

The United Way of Tri-County (UWTC) announced on March 16 that they are increasing the amount of groceries provided to families “to respond to the thousands of school-age children now missing out on free breakfast and lunch at school due to recent closings.”  UWTC’s coverage area includes Marlborough, Hudson, Southborough and Westborough.

In a statement, Paul Mina, UWTC’s president and CEO, acknowledged that no one knows how long the current situation with COVID-19 is going to last.

“Please know that our pantries and meal programs will continue to provide the nutritious food our neighbors need today and always,” he assured.

Garvin said it was back in 2006 when all of the United Way chapters in this joined together to create 2-1-1 phone number and website which is a repository of all nonprofits and the services they offer, the territories they cover and how to get in touch with the appropriate organization.  

“The great thing about 2-1-1 is that it can be updated daily and is current and in real time. Every live operator who gets the 2-1-1 calls is home-based and they don’t have to be in a call center which is not only good for their employment but good for making things personal,” Garvin said.   

For more information on the United Way of Central Mass. “We Care Fund” and coverage area, visit unitedwaycm.org.

For more information on the United Way of Tri-County COVID-19 services and coverage area, visit uwotc.org.