Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, the United Way of Washtenaw County (UWWC) has been building its $1 million, COVID-19 Community Relief Fund. It provides financial assistance to fellow nonprofit organizations to be put to use to those most vulnerable and in need. As of today, approximately $830,000 has been raised. For this week's "Washtenaw United," WEMU's David Fair is joined by UWWC president/CEO Pam Smith, who details the latest plans for the relief fund.
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'
ABOUT PAM SMITH:
Pamela Smith has been the President/CEO of the United Way of Washtenaw County since 2012. As a nonprofit executive she is dedicated to strengthening the community through philanthropy, collaboration and community engagement. Her vision and leadership guides the Equity, Diversity and Justice work of the United Way of Washtenaw County. She has more than 25 years of experience in Management, Communications and Nonprofit administration. She has served on local nonprofit boards, as an UM guest lecturer, and on local advisory teams. Ms. Smith has extensive experience in management, marketing, communications, training and workforce development. Her development and fundraising skills have made her keenly aware of the intricate balance of the diverse needs within the Southeastern Michigan community.
For nearly 100 years, United Way of Washtenaw County has been connecting people, resources and organizations together to create a thriving community for everyone. We are monitoring developments of this global pandemic — particularly for families in vulnerable communities in Washtenaw County.
In our region, 39% of households struggle to meet their basic needs. 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.
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 nearly 100 years. We will continue to be there to help in every way we can. Most importantly the COVID-19 Community Relief 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.
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