As our community adjusts daily, even hourly, to the effects of the Coronavirus, United Way of Southeast Missouri (UWSEMO), like many others in our community, has sprung into action to help, creating a COVID-19 fund.
While the hospitals and medical experts combat and prepare for illness, UWSEMO has established a COVID-19 fund specifically for our network partners and programs that directly help those in financial need. These include The Salvation Army, area food pantries, senior centers and programs, and Emergency Student Funds and backpack programs at area public schools. Although schools are closed, we believe the need will be great when classes resume and as working students and parents must remain at home. Funds also will be directed to the Family Transition Team consisting of social workers throughout the region who collectively respond to immediate need.
We have many hourly employees in this region who already live paycheck to paycheck. They will be hit especially hard by closings and social distancing as we all work together to stay healthy. With our existing network of donors and income-focused partners, United Way is the logical organization capable of bringing in funds to help them.
As most of our followers know, we receive the majority of our funding through annual workplace campaigns, which enable us to invest in 30 partners representing 40 programs throughout our four-county service area. Most of our stakeholders know we also have been preparing for Over the Edge scheduled for June 5th. Thus far 32 ‘Fearless Edgers’ have committed to raising $1,000 each for the thrill of rappelling 147 feet down Towers South on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University. Rather than asking donors to give both to Edgers and to the COVID-19 fund, Edger donations that are not for a specific UWSEMO partner can be earmarked to go to the COVID-19 fund. Currently, we are continuing as though Over the Edge will remain as scheduled, although this could change as the impact of the virus progresses.
Online donations can go to the Edger option or COVID-19 option. Donors also can give credit card donations over the phone at 573-334-9634 or by mailing a check to the UWSEMO office at 1417 D N. Mt. Auburn Road, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Donors should write the word COVID-19 and/or the name of the Edger the donor wants to support in the check memo. We encourage area businesses to support the COVID-19 fund. Hopefully, some of our corporate partners will want to match donations or create a solid foundation for the fund.
In addition to helping financially, we encourage the healthy members of our community to be of service to others. A page of current volunteer opportunities can be found on our website and a page of resources, such as food pantries, childcare information, and COVID-19 updates, all being maintained in real time as things change.
Every April during National Volunteer Month, United Way hosts a Community Celebration that is free to everyone. Like many other events, we anticipate this year’s Celebration scheduled for April 23rd at the VFW Hall in Cape probably will be canceled or postponed. We will continue to update our stakeholders on all of our community events, resources, and efforts to serve our friends and neighbors.