A meaningless jumble of letters a few months ago, COVID-19 is now turning lives, businesses and organizations upside down.

But during these tumultuous times, don’t forget about the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. It needs support more than ever to carry out all the ways it supports local residents, businesses and the communities it serves.

“Every day individuals and families are faced with new challenges,” United Way leaders stated in a news release last week. “People have lost jobs and are feeling isolated. With changes to income many are now unsure of how they will make ends meet. The need is very real, which makes many of our partner programs and additional community services more critical than ever.”

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, United Way leaders noted that the safety of its staff, community partners, and the general public is their top priority. “Our team is actively working to mobilize volunteers and resources to support community needs in a safe and effective way for all those involved.”

Despite the pandemic’s challenges, the United Way’s work goes on. Just some of the ways United Way is making a difference in Douglas and Pope counties:

  • It is continuing to offer food drops in each of the counties it serves as it is able. The United Way experienced an increase of 50 households in March in Douglas County for a total of 232 families served.

  • It is providing Backpack Attack bags to ensure children continue to receive food support over the weekends. With no guidelines around who qualifies, any child in need can receive a backpack attack bag.

  • United Way also has a 2-1-1 hotline to access free and confidential crisis and emergency counseling, disaster assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, stable housing and utilities payment assistance, employment services, veteran services and childcare and family services.

The local United Way offers a message of hope to those in Douglas and Pope counties:

“Many of you may be faced with changes and disruptions that are affecting your lives. During these uncertain times we want you to know that we are here for you. When children and families face crisis, our United Way plays a key role. We have the experience, networks and capacity to address even the most difficult challenges. We will continue to serve you to the best of our ability. It's in times of need, that we discover the full impact of a community that LIVES UNITED.”

You can help our local United Way by going to the website – uwdp.org – and learn how to volunteer, donate or provide corporate gifts.

Businesses can also get on board by becoming part of the “Twenty in 2020” – United Way’s goal of seeking 20 new business partners. The initiative will support United Way programs, connect local businesses with causes that make a difference, and provide grants to support local nonprofits.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is testing our resolve. But there’s also no doubt that this community has the strength, partnerships and resiliency to get through the toughest times, together.