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Less than two weeks after launching a fundraising effort to help individuals and families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley announced it has distributed over $378,000 to 36 community-based nonprofit agencies across the region to provide flexible emergency financial assistance to individuals and families impacted by the crisis.  

United Way quickly mobilized its broad network of nonprofit agencies who have a proven and long track record of working with the organization to administer flexible emergency assistance for families impacted by income disruption. According to a recent poll by MassINC for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, 16 percent of Massachusetts residents said they have lost their job and 23 percent of people making less than $50,000 of less say they have lost a job since the pandemic hit the region. The assistance will help families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis meet their basic needs for food and supplies, childcare and housing.  

Since United Way launched the COVID-19 Family Support Fund on March 14, more than 1,000 donors representing individuals, corporations and foundations have committed over $1.2M to help working families affected by the crisis. Lead supporters of United Way’s relief effort include Bank of America, Putnam, Eastern Bank, Wells Fargo, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation, Endowment for Health, TD Bank, Tufts Health Plan, Hyams Foundation and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. In addition, WCVB-TV and iHeartMedia have donated their talent and resources to produce public service announcements to promote UnitedWay’s COVID-19 Family Support Fund and Mass 2-1-1. 100 percent of donations will go directly to help families in need and more distributions will be made from the fund in the coming weeks.

“An important measure of a community’s strength is the way it comes together to support its most vulnerable, and the partnerships forged by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley are vital during these unprecedented times. Bank of America remains focused on providing resources to those who need it most through our philanthropic support, as well as the important work we do serving the needs of our clients and taking care of our employees,” says Miceal Chamberlain, Massachusetts president of Bank of America.

“We are in this crisis together, and we will get through this crisis together,” says Michael K. Durkin, president and chief executive officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “In this unprecedented and challenging time, where literally everyone is impacted, individuals, business leaders, government officials, nonprofit organizations and foundations are joining together to help the most vulnerable in communities across our region.  We will continue to get resources out quickly to our agency partners to help as many people as possible.”

Individuals can dial 2-1-1 for comprehensive information and referrals related to the virus, including information on where they can access flexible funds through the COVID-19 Family Support Fund. Payments will be sent to the vendor or provider of services; money will not be given to individuals directly.

Spread throughout Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, United Way’s network of agencies receiving the first round of grants through the COVID-19 Family Support Fund includes:

  • Relief for hourly workers:  Fund is being awarded to organizations such as BEST HTC, which quickly set up a hotline to reach out to over 10,000 hospitality workers who have been laid off or soon will be, to provide help applying for unemployment insurance and other support. This includes hospitality workers, university workers, airport workers and casino workers. Other nonprofits receiving funds include Community Action, Inc. and Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, who are providing emergency assistance to laid off child care providers, restaurant workers, service workers and people who cannot work because of sick parents or children, andWellspring House which operated a hotline and was able to quickly provide support to laid off retail, restaurants, hotels, housekeeping, family child care, and other settings.
  • Assistance to domestic violence survivors: Recognizing domestic violence survivor-serving agencies are needing extra support at this time, United Way will provide funds to organizations like ATASK (Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence), This agency focuses on Asian survivors, and Asian people across the country are experiencing more hate crimes and discrimination. They will distribute gift cards and help pay people’s bills.
  • Support for people with compromised immune systems: Nonprofits such as Victory Programs are working with especially vulnerable populations who are at greater risk for the virus, including folks with HIV/AIDS. They are ramping up their responses and ensuring they can support all those in their programs with food, supplies and other basic needs.
  • Help for immigrants and  non-English speakers: Several organizations who serve diverse immigrant populations, such as Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), Quincy Community Action Programs and others will receiving funding to provide relief and assistance to hourly workers, including those at the airports and in other roles who have lost hours/work.
  • Increased food distribution: The combination of school closings and the surge of families experiencing income loss have increased the demand for food assistance in many local communities.  United Way is providing funding to organizations such as the Weymouth Food Pantry, Beverly Bootstraps, The Open Door, The Salvation Army and the Hockomock YMCA.

The list of distributions from United Way’s COVID-19 Family Support Fund through March 27, 2020 to the North Shore and Merrimack Valley communities are below:

Merrimack Valley

  • Emmaus
  • Community Teamwork, Inc
  • UTEC
  • Community Action, Inc
  • Greater Lawrence Community Action Council

North Shore

  • Council of Social Concern in Woburn
  • Beverly Bootstraps
  • Lynn Housing & Neighborhood Development (LHAND)
  • The Open Door
  • Wellspring House

For more information, visit United Way’s COVID-19 Family Support Fund