MIDDLETOWN — United Ways across the state of Connecticut are joining forces to respond to the increasingly dire economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together, they have created the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund in coordination with philanthropic efforts statewide. It will rapidly deploy financial resources to individuals and families economically affected by the pandemic, including those who are out of work or have reduced work hours.
In the coming days, the fund will prioritize and qualify those who will be eligible for assistance. It is launching with $100,000 in support from the Aetna Foundation.
“We want to support people in the communities we serve by ensuring they have access to basic needs during this uncertain time,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of CSR and Philanthropy for CVS Health.
“Through this donation to the Connecticut United Ways, we hope to provide access to food and financial support resources to help those most in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The fund will be used to help individuals and families that United Way calls Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These are our hard-working neighbors who already live paycheck to paycheck. Many of them provide crucial services in our community, such as caring for our children and elderly parents.
Without a financial cushion, they are particularly vulnerable to the rapidly changing scenario our country now faces. United Way expects that the number of individuals and families in the state that fall into the ALICE income threshold will grow as the crisis continues.
After speaking with ALICE individuals in the past few days, we know their needs are great and mounting.
“My children are at home eating three meals a day, and I have no money left on my SNAP Card,” shared Karen, a Connecticut resident. “I’m not getting a paycheck this week, and I’m not eligible for unemployment.”
Already struggling to pay their bills, ALICE families may now be facing even more severe challenges, such as:
• Inability to keep up with rent, mortgage, and utility payments as paychecks stop coming in or are severely reduced. People in the restaurant, entertainment and travel industries are most affected
• Stressors on food budgets with children home from school and eating more. Gas is needed to pick up grab-and-go meals from the schools, and the pick-up schedules don’t always coincide with parents’ work schedules
• Higher food and utility costs as all family members are home all day in response to social distancing guidelines
• Fewer volunteers available to provide services to those in need, as many volunteers are over the age of 60
Connecticut United Ways hope to mobilize a response quickly to get money to individuals who most need it to pay for food, utilities and other basic necessities.
As this pandemic continues to evolve, so too will the needs of our community. This fund will allow for flexibility in meeting those needs.
This past week was spent mobilizing with our colleagues from across the state on how best to identify the needs of our most vulnerable populations, including ALICE, during this crisis. Middlesex United Way will continue our work surrounding financial stability, and do what we can to help families withstand, even amid a pandemic. We are here to help our neighbors and families make it through this crisis.
To donate to the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund, go to CTUWCovid19ResponseFund.org. Donors will have the option to pay a 3.09 percent credit card processing fee so that 100 percent of their donation can go directly to those in need. Connecticut United Ways will not charge any administrative fees on donations to the Fund.
Kevin Wilhelm is president and CEO of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.