It’s hard to find a hopeful holiday message to share as we look toward an uncertain new year after the unimaginable struggles of 2020. There is hope on the horizon, of course, as the COVID-19 vaccines begin to be administered across the country.
But the pandemic is still raging, and our more rural region is feeling its devastating effects. Our hospitals and healthcare workers are stretched to their limits as they work under overwhelming conditions to keep our community safe and protect our loved ones.
At the same time, federal and state pandemic relief – including the eviction moratorium, emergency unemployment assistance, student loan forbearance, and more – will expire with the new year, intensifying the dire circumstances our most vulnerable residents are facing, many of them for the first time in their lives. There are people in our community who are suffering – families without food and shelter, without basic necessities – and their number is going to grow in the coming months.
Lisa Schweitzer Courtice, president and CEO of United Way of Central Ohio, wrote an excellent opinion piece in The Columbus Dispatch, discussing “what do we do as a community when the helpers are being stretched beyond their means.” Her article includes information about how we can influence our elected officials to extend pandemic assistance measures, and how we can help the nonprofits in our own communities. Read it here.
At United Way of North Central Ohio, we are supporting our Community Partners as they continue their unflagging efforts to ensure that our neighbors are safe, warm, fed, and cared for – with no end in sight. Donations to UWNCO and our Community Recovery Fund are used to fund more than 40 partners providing safety net services and emergency relief in our community. Ironically, in a year in which fundraising efforts have been deeply curtailed or canceled altogether, the need for donations is greater than ever before.
I continue to be amazed by the resilience of our funded Community Partners – their adaptability and commitment in facing every one of the crazy complications thrown at them this year makes it clear that we are investing your donations in organizations that are “the best way to help the most people.”
Our staff at United Way of North Central Ohio also met new challenges, managing the partner application and allocations process while in lockdown, with no delays in funding, and launching our Community Campaign with virtual options for businesses working remotely.
So I’ll find my hope for the new year in our partners, in our staff, and in the people of our community. Together, we will respond, recover, and rebuild to a “new normal” in which our community provides equitable opportunity for every resident.
Amber Wertman, Executive Director
United Way of North Central Ohio serving Crawford, Marion, & Wyandot