By Jaime Saunders and Jennifer Leonard
Published 6:00 a.m. ET April 5, 2020
A moment of crisis says a lot about a person and a community.
Faced with stress, uncertainty and fear, we all react in different ways. What we have witnessed over the last few weeks has been strong leadership, selfless acts, and a community of caring. We are in this together, and together we will make it through.
Our community thrives because our human service sector is strong. But right now, it is hurting. Our community’s nonprofits are experiencing staffing and volunteer shortages. They have lost funding due to canceled fundraising events and closures. They don’t have the supplies and resources they need to help the most vulnerable in our community. They are doing so much with so little, and they need our help.
In response, United Way and Rochester Area Community Foundation have come together to activate the Community Crisis Fund in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund pools financial resources from foundations, businesses, and individuals to provide rapid and flexible funding that will support our nonprofits, our community and future emergencies.
Donate here: Community Crisis Fund donation page
To support the community’s powerful desire to help, United Way has introduced a COVID-19-specific portal on our online Volunteer United resource. It has already connected more than a thousand caring community members with specific in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities and lists of supplies needed by local nonprofits.
Studies have shown that human beings are hard-wired to give to others and that volunteering can give you a boost of positivity during trying times. If you are able, please visit the website to volunteer to make calls to older adults to check in on them, pack boxes of food, take a shift at a local food panty and more.
Volunteers are considered essential and organizations are practicing social distancing guidelines to keep their helpers safe.
We have resources for our local nonprofits that need support. In addition to sharing volunteer needs on Volunteer United, nonprofits can also join United Way’s Human Service Support Hub to find resources to help your organization through this crisis and connect with other nonprofits that may have overcome challenges similar to yours.
If you can’t give or volunteer, please check in on each other. Make sure your neighbors are safe and have all they need. Lastly, remember to thank our community leaders, grocery store employees, first responders, health-care workers, educators, and nonprofit providers who continue to do herculean work on the front lines.
How to help
- To donate to the Community Crisis Fund, please visit this link: https://bit.ly/2x678FJ
- To volunteer during the crisis, please visit this link: https://bit.ly/2Rc9Q3a
Jaime Saunders is president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Greater Rochester. Jennifer Leonard is president and chief executive officer of the Rochester Area Community Foundation.