Dear United Way Friends,
As always, I hope this continues to find you and yours safe and healthy.As I shared last week, the work of recovery is starting to be upon us. Conversations are underway with our partner agencies, community leaders, the school system, and others with the goal to assess what actions will need to be taken in Forsyth County to work our way back from detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The information to work through and share with you now isn’t as dramatic, but it is certainly as important.
1. Looking at the Crisis Through Different Lenses This pandemic has affected the entire world, but each of us is experiencing this crisis through our own specific lens. Some people aren’t as deeply affected as others and may think that life in our community will get “back to normal” any day now once the stay-at-home order is lifted, or antibody tests are available, or some other defined point is crossed. Others, who may have lost their jobs, can’t pay their bills, have fallen behind in educational pursuits, or have been physically affected by the virus may be picking up the pieces of their lives for years to come.Think of it this way – if a house is flooded, it might look fine on the outside, but on the inside there’s a lot of work to be done: water must be removed, sheet rock cut out, mold treated, ensuring everything is dry, and only then can rebuilding start. Similarly, things may look like they are improving in our community as we enter Phase 1 of NC’s COVID-19 plan to reopen.
However, once the moratorium on evictions is lifted, there will be people who suffer. Once the period of time expires for people receiving unemployment benefits, there will be people who struggle. Where support was given during this crisis and is subsequently removed, members of our community may slide back into a more vulnerable state. Our role at United Way during this process is to repeatedly take the pulse of the community and respond to what the issues are at that point of time. This is a continual process. As we move forward, we will employ a methodology to frequently assess the needs in our community and, with our partners, will remain nimble in our ability to pivot and address the new needs that arise.
2. The Work Doesn’t Stop: The Salvation Army As I’ve highlighted previously, our partner agencies continue to deliver vital services to our community during this pandemic. Throughout the response to COVID-19, The Salvation Army has remained open and serving the community with shelter, food, child care, emergency assistance, and emotional and spiritual care. All of their staff is considered “essential” and reports to their designated facility each workday. No staff members are working remotely. Although this may sound like “business as usual”, they have creatively adapted their programs in light of the pandemic. For instance:· Center of Hope, their homeless shelter for families, operates 24/7 and is adapting to the COVID-19 guidelines. Normally parents would be at work during the week and children in school or child care programs. Families are now strongly encouraged to shelter in place and schoolwork is done online. Two shelter rooms have been set up as isolation suites in the event of a COVID-19 infection or active illness. The shelter continues to offer a daily community breakfast and Sunday dinner which has transitioned to a nutritious, pre-prepared meal distributed in “to go” containers. Expenses have escalated because of an increase in staff, food, utilities, and cleaning and medical supplies.· Their food pantries have transitioned from client choice to food box distribution in the interests of the health and safety of clients and staff in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines. Distribution includes social distancing guidelines and masked staff. They are also including educational materials, hygiene products, and other donated items, as available.·
The Boys & Girls Club staff has continued to serve their entire roster of club members. Club youth who are at home receive regular virtual contact from staff members. Services including online tutoring, homework help, and virtual emotional support provide the opportunity to focus on education, friendship, and emotional heath. Every club youth with a birthday during this time receives a virtual “birthday party”. Emotional and spiritual care are also offered to parents, grandparents, and guardians of the children.·
The Senior CiVIC Center has remained open but stay-at-home guidelines and restrictions are preventing seniors from attending. However, seniors are checked on daily, and each week, food boxes are delivered to seniors’ homes as well as recommended safety and mental health guidelines, hygiene products, and other requested items.We thank The Salvation Army, and all our partner agencies, for their determination, flexibility, and creativity. Our community is stronger because of the important work they are doing every day. I want to remind you that if you’re a United Way donor, you’ve made this possible, so thank you!
3. Your Response – Thank You! Thanks to everyone who took our quick survey on your thoughts of what top issues our community will need to address. I think it’s important to point out that in your responses, 60% think employment, income, and financial assistance will be one of the highest priorities for our community. Housing & Shelter and Food Insecurity were then tied for the secondary issues you believed needed to be addressed. This information is quite useful as we transition to the recovery phase of this crisis. As we continue to work our way through each day of this pandemic together, we will continue to ask for your insight and look forward to your feedback.We also continue to monitor data from 2-1-1 to know what the most requested needs are in our community. As a portal for all types of community resources, it provides a critical perspective in real-time about what families are struggling with. If someone you know is in need of help, please encourage them to call 2-1-1 or go to NC211.org.So then, onward we move – together, as a community. Thank you for your continued support of our community – and thank you for Living United!
President and CEO, United Way of Forsyth County