As the COVID-19 outbreak devastates the region’s economy, the Monadnock United Way is hoping to help through its new relief fund, aimed at assisting local families particularly affected by the global pandemic.
As of April 30, the campaign — started in March — had raised nearly $125,000, with all of the money being donated to area agencies committed to helping those in need of emergency or long-term services.
No administrative fees or deductions will be taken out of the fund, according to President Liz LaRose.
Agencies benefiting from the campaign include Keene Day Care Center, Rise for baby and family, the Cheshire County Emergency Housing Collaborative and the Monadnock Food Pantries Collective.
“This is a pandemic that none of us have ever seen before,” LaRose said, “and once the governor declared a state of emergency, it became clear we were going to have needs in this community, like the rest of the world, and we wanted to be able to respond right away.”
The funds raised are distributed evenly every week among the Monadnock United Way’s partner agencies, LaRose said, but people can direct donations to a specific agency outside of the partners if they wish.
The campaign has no set fundraising goal, she noted.
“We believe that this crisis will have lasting effects on the community. Possibly for many months after the stay at home orders are lifted,” LaRose said in an email. “So we do not have a goal and are hoping to raise as much as possible to ensure that our community can weather this crisis for the long-term.”
Meanwhile, despite the financial uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, collections from the Monadnock United Way’s annual workplace pledge campaign are still on track, according to LaRose.
The $1.3 million pledged during the campaign — which ended in December — will benefit 30 agencies and programs in the Monadnock Region.
Before the pandemic hit the region, Monadnock United Way announced funding cuts in February, pointing to a roughly $230,000 shortfall in last year’s campaign. The organization is also focusing on a smaller number of initiatives than before.
The bulk of the annual campaign’s funds were pledged by area employees last year, LaRose said, and will be collected through payroll deductions this year.
The organization has not seen any dip in dollars yet, but LaRose said it is closely monitoring the situation.
“... there is a risk that people might not be able to pay their donation in full if they are furloughed, if their pay is reduced, or if they lose their jobs,” she said.
She added that even in times of widespread financial challenges like these, the community continues to step up and give to others.
“The United Way raises funds based on our community, and our organization belongs to this community and this region, and it has been really, really amazing to see the flow of funding coming in from people,” she said. “We have people who have given funds to COVID relief three or four times in the past eight weeks, so to everyone who has given multiple or individual gifts, we thank them.”
People can donate to the Monadnock United Way’s COVID-19 Relief Fund by visiting muw.org/covid-19-relief-fund