United Way
of Whatcom County

How United Way is Helping During COVID-19

April 18, 2020

Kristi Birkeland, United Way of Whatcom County

How United Way is Helping During COVID-19

You know us as the fundraisers. The corporate philanthropy partners. The group that comes to your workplace, tells you about critical issues in our community and lets you know how you can help. We know you as the givers. The volunteers. The advocates. The people who care enough to Live United. 

Normally, this is the time of year when we’d be organizing groups of volunteers to help us make important and difficult decisions about which nonprofit agencies to fund with the money you helped us raise. Unfortunately, nothing about right now is normal. And so we must adjust.

What we’re doing today

As always, we’re Living United to keep our community safe and healthy. 

At the moment, that means not sharing space-- with each other or anyone else. Sadly, our Community Impact Panel volunteers will not be meeting. Our office is closed, and our team is fully functional and working from home. We’re taking care of ourselves and each other so we can continue to take care of our community. 

Taking action

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we have established an Emergency Recovery Fund to help keep critical services available for those who need them. This fund is separate from, and in addition to, the Community Impact Fund you are likely familiar with. 

100% of Emergency Recovery Fund donations will go to local nonprofit organizations experiencing increased demand for basic needs such as food, housing, and health services due to COVID-19. These agencies are on the front lines, working overtime to adapt and adjust to changing conditions in order to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. 

United Way of Whatcom County has contributed $100,000 to this fund and is actively seeking support from those who want to help and are able to give. This includes our corporate partners. 

Working together

In addition to supporting us all year long, Whatcom Educational Credit Union has graciously stepped up and donated $10,000 to our Emergency Recovery Fund. They have also contributed $10,000 to Whatcom Community Foundation’s Resilience Fund and to Chuckanut Health Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief and Response Fund. (Thank you, WECU!) 

These funding organizations are our friends and neighbors at the Whatcom Center for Philanthropy. Each of our relief funds has a slightly different focus, allowing us to effectively address a variety of community issues and needs. We’re also working with the Health Department and Whatcom Unified Command to identify the most urgent needs facing Whatcom County, and partnering with other funders such as the Mt. Baker Kidney Foundation to help fund solutions.

We are all working closely together to make sure our collective response efforts are helping where and how they are needed most. 

Granting funds

Our Emergency Recovery Fund is focused on the skyrocketing demand for things like food, housing, healthcare, mental health services, and childcare for first responders. The needs are great and the funds are limited, but we’re doing what we can to support critical, lifesaving programs in our community. 

In our first round of funding, we are proud to give emergency grants to the following organizations, in addition to any current United Way funds they may be receiving:

These grants are unrestricted to allow these trusted agencies maximum flexibility to put the dollars where they are needed most. As long as we have funds to give, we will continue granting funds to support critical programs in our community. 

If you’re inspired to contribute to this fund, click here or email [email protected]

Feeling grateful 

We’re keeping in touch with our partner agencies during this time to find out how COVID-19 has affected their organizations and services, which has only made us appreciate them even more. The ways in which these heroes are adjusting, adapting, and doing everything humanly possible to continue their work is downright inspiring. 

We have always sung the praises of our nonprofit partners, our supportive companies, our caring donors, and our tireless volunteers. But today we do so a little louder. 

Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Thank you for choosing to LIVE UNITED.