MIDDLETOWN — The Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response Fund has announced that more than 1,000 households across the state have now benefited from the initiative. The fund is a unique joint effort launched by all 15 United Ways in Connecticut to help those who lost jobs, wages or child care, or who were otherwise financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Partnering with social service agencies across Connecticut, the fund has identified those most in need of immediate monetary assistance. Through a system developed with EML Payment Limited, beneficiaries are downloading $200 to their mobile wallets and are using the money to pay for basic household necessities like groceries and utilities.
A beneficiary from Cromwell shares her gratitude for the assistance: “The United Way was a saving grace for my family. My husband was laid off due to COVID-19 pandemic, and my family was struggling. The money they donated helped us immensely. I cannot thank them enough. We are very grateful!”
Another beneficiary stated, “The $200 from the Connecticut United Ways COVID-19 Response fund allowed me to pay my car insurance and get some of the paper items and soaps I was unable to afford. I was so surprised and very thankful for this help.”
Most people who applied to the fund identified food (76 percent) and paying for utilities (75 percent) as their most immediate needs, although housing (56 percent) and child care (9 percent) were also identified as financial challenges. Data collected from their actual purchases shows spending patterns reflect those identified needs.
The 15 United Ways across the state of Connecticut joined within days of realizing the economic ripple effects of the pandemic. They were able to create this innovative system because of the strong relationships they had with each other, the social service providers in their communities, and funders who had dollars they could commit immediately.
It was so important to work together quickly to get funds to individuals and families. By having strong partnerships with our fellow United Ways and social service partners, we were able to deploy funds as soon as the monies were available to help keep those most vulnerable afloat.
The more funds that are raised, the more people that can be served. The Connecticut United Ways are not charging administrative fees for the fund.
To date, the fund has raised and is distributing nearly $700,000. Donors have included residents, state employees and corporate partners and foundations, including: Aetna Foundation, Avangrid Foundation (parent company of United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas), Citizens Bank, the Connecticut Health Foundation, Connecticut State Employees Campaign, Eversource, Ion Bank, Liberty Bank, Medtronic Foundation, Newtown Savings Bank, Pitney Bowes, Timken Foundation, Travelers, Union Savings Bank, J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Webster Bank, and Wells Fargo.
Most beneficiaries of the fund are individuals and families that United Way calls ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). These are our hard-working neighbors who live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings to fall back on in an emergency like this. Many of them provide crucial services in our community — such as caring for our children and elderly parents.
With no 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.
City and town social service departments can call 860-493-6800 to learn how to get funds to clients in need.
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.
For information, contact me at kevin.wilhelm@Middlesexunitedway.org or 860-346-8695.
Kevin Wilhelm is CEO and president of the Middlesex United Way in Middletown.