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Monday, April 20, 2020

Ready for Launch

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United Way of Northwest Louiana’s Emergency Response Fund

As you are no doubt aware, the world is currently experiencing a crisis of almost unprecedented proportions. Local, state and federal governments, as well as local nonprofits and church groups, are doing everything they can to alleviate the immediate needs created by COVID-19. It is unclear what the intermediate and long-term effects of this public health crisis will be, so these longer term needs are those United Way is focused on addressing. During this challenging time, we are responding to COVID-19 by continuing to provide our existing programs and services, coordinating volunteers to safely alleviate needs, and creating an emergency response fund for those disproportionately affected by the crisis.

The United for NWLA Fund, United Way of Northwest Louisiana’s Emergency Response Fund, has been launched. This fund will be used after the immediate government response as a second line of assistance to individuals in need who do not typically qualify for other nonprofit services. We refer to these individuals as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed).

With the recent shelter in place order from the Louisiana governor, many of our fellow citizens are unable to work, earn a paycheck, and are completely overwhelmed. This may include your company and employees, as well. We shared five United Way programs to assist you amid COVID-19 in our newsletter. These programs will help you and your employees find assistance and even ways to safely volunteer. FamilyWize continues to offer discounts for prescription costs. MyFreeTaxes.com is working closely with the IRS for individuals who will need assistance filing their taxes for free. BankOn Northwest Louisiana is here for those in need of access to banking services remotely. 211 is providing the latest information related to COVID-19 and connecting people affected by the crisis to government and nonprofit resources.

Our United Way motto is “Give. Advocate. Volunteer.” We are asking our corporate partners to be part of the solution during this difficult time. The nature of this emergency is such that we are asking all major corporations and foundations with interest in the welfare of our state to respond to this crisis immediately. One way to contribute to the relief effort today is to give to the United for NWLA Fund, providing essential funds that will help ALICE survive the upcoming weeks or months without employment or health insurance. To give, go to www.unitedwaynwla.org/ unitedfornwla or contact LaToria Thomas at tori@unitedwaynwla.org.

Another way to contribute is to encourage employees to volunteer. At present, Louisiana 211 has serviced 16,500 phone calls and texts from 35,000 mobile users seeking information and help in the wake of COVID-19. To manage the call volume and minimize caller wait times, we are seeking volunteers to assist in answering 211 calls. We are also looking for individuals interested in recording themselves reading Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library books from their homes to keep our children engaged in positive learning experiences. Individuals interested in volunteering can go to https://unitedwaynwla.org/volunteer-form.

Please consider joining the coalition of individuals and organizations distinguishing themselves by helping their community during this time of tremendous need. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly. We are all in this together. And together, we can help ALICE through the difficulties ahead.

Dr. Bruce G. Willson, Jr., CFRE / President & CEO, United Way of Northwest Louisiana


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