Eagle Valley United Way sets up COVID-19 relief fund
Initial intent is to provide help to groups that might be slipping through the cracks with other aid
Local governments and nonprofit groups are pouring money into relief efforts. The local United Way is participating too, but in a slightly different way.
The local United Way began operations in 1996, and currently raises and distributes roughly $200,000 per year to between 30 and 40 nonprofit groups. The organization doesn’t provide any direct relief.
That’s changing to an extent.
Local United Way director Rebecca Kanaly said the group in March assembled a task force made up of a number of local nonprofit groups, business groups and local pastors, as well as local government officials, to examine where “cracks” might be in local relief efforts. The idea, she said was to “understand what’s missing.”
Working with Mile High United Way and United Way Worldwide for advice and direction, Kanaly said the local team has been meeting every week to work on local efforts.
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While the local United Way will hold the funds, the board will make decisions regarding how that money is distributed.
Kanaly said while organizations including Our Community Market are seeing big financial infusions — with more needed — the United Way COVID-19 relief fund will seek to help “undersupported” programs.
“I think we can be really impactful that way,” Kanaly said. For instance, a local caterer has been preparing and delivering meals to vulnerable residents. Money for that has all come out of the caterer’s pocket.
Kanaly said there are a lot of similar stories in the valley. She wants those smaller efforts to know help is available.
“We’ll be sending emails and spread the word as fast as possible,” Kanaly said. “We need to turn this around quickly.”
The United Way COVID-19 funds are expected to be distributed in three phases.
First is the immediate need of undersupported efforts. The next step will expand to include COVID-19 response. Kanaly said this will focus on aid for non-emergency medical needs.
The third phase will focus on “economic suffering,” by both people and nonprofit groups.
A number of groups count on income from events that aren’t being held for the foreseeable future. Kanaly said some nonprofit groups could lose between 30% and 50% of their revenue for this year.
United Way recently sent a survey to local nonprofits. Just 14 respondents estimated economic damage of $2.2 million.
“This is where we come in in the nonprofit community: How can we help in this next phase of need?” Kanaly said.
Karen Lechner is helping spread the word about the local United Way’s COVID-19 fund.
“People are confused,” Lechner said, adding that the United Way can help provide “something to fall back on.”
The good news is that there’s optimism the fund can do some real good in a short time.
“I love that we’ve got such an amazing community,” Lechner said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com.