Two Months of Unprecedented Response

Two Months of Unprecedented Response

It’s hard to believe it’s been two months since doors closed and our new normal began. Since then, our community has come together in inspiring ways – local restaurants delivering meals to healthcare workers, teams of people sewing homemade masks, businesses stepping up to support the community.

We learned quickly that an unprecedented crisis requires an unprecedented response. On March 13th, United Way of South Hampton Roads stepped up by creating the Coronavirus Recover Fund and launching the Coronavirus Response Hotline to help those most affected. Here are some highlights of our response efforts to date:

  • We’ve raised $2.5 million from a combination of corporate gifts and individual donors.
  • Dollar Tree made their first gift to our organization, $250,000 to the Coronavirus Recovery Fund, the largest corporate gift thus far, marking the start of an exciting partnership.
  • We’re so thankful to have received a donation of nearly 70,000 rolls of toilet paper from Kimberly Clark and Cottonelle which we distributed to nonprofit partners across our region as part of their #ShareASquare campaign.
  • In collaboration with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, we released $517,410 in first-round rapid response grants to 34 nonprofits on the frontlines of this crisis.
  • We have issued two additional rapid response grant applications for a second and third round of funding.
  • We’ve developed a collaborative, multi-agency approach to the hotline thanks to partnerships with ForKids, Catholic Charities, CHIP and the Up Center, and together we’ve fielded over 3,800 calls. This approach has enabled us to provide comprehensive case management for all callers in need of resources and guidance.

Since day one, our case managers have tracked important data from the hotline. This data has been instrumental in helping us understand how our community is being impacted by the effects of coronavirus-related closures. In the first weeks, the hotline was flooded with calls for assistance as people began losing income and facing food insecurity. Of the calls received in the first three weeks:

  • 80% of families had children under the age of 18
  • 90% of callers were facing a loss of income
  • 37% requested food assistance—this was the most requested assistance category

While the needs reported are shifting as stimulus and unemployment checks have begun to hit bank accounts, it is clear we are in this for the long haul. Stimulus funds and deferred payments allow individuals to pay for the necessities, but many people will struggle in the coming months as they work to secure employment while paying off their deferred payments while still maintaining their recurring monthly expenses. In short, those who were already struggling to make ends meet prior to the crisis will have even more obstacles to self-sufficiency.

No matter what the future holds, United Way will be there every step of the way. We’re beginning to look toward the future and laying the groundwork for collaborative solutions to address the long-term impacts of this crisis. We continue to work with our community partners while using data as our compass to determine how to best provide relief in the coming weeks, months and years.

To learn more about our response efforts or to make a gift to the Coronavirus Recovery Fund, please visit