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SOUTH BURLINGTON —  United Way of Northwest Vermont is working to mobilize volunteers and donors to aid those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Those impacts include not just people who may have the virus, but businesses which have had to close and workers who are dealing with either outright job loss or reduced hours.

United Way has established the COVID-19 United Response Fund to rapidly mobilize resources to support organizations on the front lines of supporting communities and families most impacted by COVID-19. All dollars given through this fund will be used to support organizations and people in our communities throughout Northwest Vermont.

The fund was created to quickly mobilize resources for both short-term impacts and long-term challenges for community members related to the pandemic. United Way is working in alignment with the City of Burlington, United Ways across the state, the Vermont Community Foundation, other state/local governments and many other private funders.

“We know this community and we have strong relationships with an existing network of partners that are already at the forefront of helping our most vulnerable community members,” said Jesse Bridges, CEO of United Way of Northwest Vermont. “We are working alongside other funders and partners to make the best decisions possible for this fund to support our neighbors in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties.”

In addition to the fund, United Way has created an online page—COVID-19 Community Response—to support the role that volunteers can play in helping our neighbors get access to essential items and services while social distancing guidelines remain in effect. The page, updated daily, includes local, grassroots volunteer opportunities across the region.

“As we are all adjusting to responding to the COVID-19 virus, we would like to help support the role volunteers can play in a way that both achieves community and organizational goals while maintaining important precautions such as social distancing. In many cases, volunteers may help provide essential services in the weeks ahead,” said Megan Bridges, Volunteer Connection Coordinator. Some organizations are not prepared for an influx of volunteers at this time, but for those that are—United Way stands ready to share the needs as they arise in the weeks and months ahead.”

 In order to free up existing resources, United Way is also releasing its fourth payment of year two program funding grants to its existing network of 51 nonprofit programs across the region. This payment of $375,000 represents one quarter of the total $1.5 million invested in our local nonprofits over the last year. Usually restricted for program use only, United Way is now allowing these funds to support general operating expenses at each of its funded nonprofits in order to help them through this difficult time serving the most vulnerable members of our community.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought front and center the economic and health fragility of many Vermonters, an issue United Way works to address year-round.

“We are leveraging our unique position at the center of business, nonprofit and government organizations to create both immediate and long-term sustainability for our communities,” said Jesse Bridges, CEO.

For more information, visit www.unitedwaynwvt.org.

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