United Way of South Hampton Roads Announces Plans to Lead Coronavirus Response Efforts, Establishes Fund

With presumptive positive cases of coronavirus now in Hampton Roads, United Way of South Hampton Roads (UWSHR) is announcing plans to lead the response effort.

Our purpose is to be there for our neighbors who need us most. With our existing relationships with cities and schools, health and human service agencies, and corporate partners, we believe we are uniquely suited to respond to this community need.

In alignment with our mission, we’re implementing a response plan with an emphasis on under-resourced populations and those who will be disproportionately affected, including:

  • Workers who are paid hourly and/or do not have medical benefits and/or paid leave
  • Low-income families with children who go to schools that have been closed and have nowhere else to get their meals
  • Workers whose employment or income is significantly jeopardized by industries who may experience the economic slowdown
  • Homebound seniors who count on nonprofit services for health and wellbeing

When a crisis like this hits our community, our hardest hit neighbors are those already struggling to make ends meet – we call them ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They are working hard, many of them in hourly jobs with no benefits, but their financial stability can be severely impacted by one crisis – like a missed paycheck. Even if only a small number of individuals contract the virus, with schools, public facilities, events, etc. shutdown, the impacts on our community will be significant. Some of those include:

  • Single parents may be forced to choose between leaving their children at home alone or missing work
  • While some schools may host classes online, not all families have access to internet at home so some children may fall behind
  • An increase in the amount of mental health services needed
  • Nonprofits across the area having to cancel fundraising events and losing income while having to redirect resources to meet growing needs

Over the last week, we’ve been developing a comprehensive plan for coordinated response. We will be establishing the Coronavirus Recovery Fund and acting as the funding administrator for our region. Those wishing to make a gift to the Fund can text COVID to 41444 or visit unitedwayshr.org/coronavirus.

We are also coordinating care for those experiencing the effects of closures and missed work, particularly those in the ALICE population. If you need non-medical assistance due to coronavirus, call United Way’s Coronavirus Response Hotline at 757-858-7777 or visit unitedwayshr.org/coronavirus.

“Our purpose is to be there for our neighbors who need us most, so we’ve decided to step up and lead the response to this community need,” said Michele Anderson, president & CEO of UWSHR. “Even if the number of cases in our area is small, this crisis has the potential to have major economic impacts, so we’re collaborating with our partners to care for our community.”

We will be posting updated information on our website at unitedwayshr.org/coronavirus.