When the COVID-19 pandemic invaded our local community, United Way of Lebanon County anticipated that there would be unexpected short and long terms needs. Accordingly, the organization responded quickly to establish a fund to support local nonprofit organizations. These organizations are critical in supporting community members, utilizing their already limited revenue, in response to this community crisis.
The second round of grants from this fund were distributed to support the following areas of identified need:
- Safely Reopening Childcare and Summer Camp ($5,000) – When Lebanon County entered the yellow phase of reopening, the Lebanon YMCA was able to once again provide childcare programs and school age care for families with a working parent(s). This requires PPE for children and staff as well as specialized signage to ensure a safe, clean environment. Additionally, the YMCA Summer Camp that was scheduled to start on June 8 operates in school buildings, which are not yet cleared to move forward. If the camps are not held in schools where students get PA childcare financial assistance, parents will not be eligible for this state assistance. This grant will help ensure that the YMCA does not have to turn a family away because they cannot afford the program as well as stock the childcare center with the necessary PPE to reopen safely.
- Ensuring Safety Precautions to Resume In-person Medical Services ($5,000) – Lebanon Family Health Services offers a variety of health and educational services for some of our community’s most vulnerable population, including serving as our county’s facilitator for the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) supplemental nutrition program. Services were transitioned to telehealth as much as possible throughout the pandemic, with some in-person visits being medically necessary. As LFHS transitions to external events such as drive up and curbside services, as well as more patients returning to in person, there is an added expense to prepare including additional PPE and Plexiglas dividers. This grant will help with the transition and ensure safety for patients, clients, and staff.
- Updating Technology to Support Victims of Sexual Assault ($3,065) - Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center had to quickly shift to provide their essential services virtually when the pandemic arose. This exposed a need for updated technology to ensure that counselors, advocates, therapists, and community educators could continue to provide scheduled counseling and therapy sessions and educational programs. They received a donation of laptops to help with these efforts. This grant will allow SARCC to equip these laptops with the required software and operating systems to provide services and programs virtually.
- Replenishing PPE for Continued Safety at Free Clinic ($3,065) – Lebanon Valley Volunteers In Medicine was the only free clinic to in Lebanon County to provide in-person, no-cost, primary care services throughout the pandemic. To do this safely, they incurred 7-10 times higher personal protective equipment and medication costs. This grant will help to ensure that the clinic remains fully stocked so that they can continue to help our neighbors receive medical care.
The first round of grants awarded last month focused on basic needs such as food and housing. “We recognized when we established this fund that we didn’t know what to expect when this unprecedented pandemic reached Lebanon County. We knew we needed to remain flexible to our community’s needs as they arise,” says Brooke Smith, United Way CEO of United Way. “The state and federal government stepped in with aid for agencies addressing these basic needs, so we are now looking at the overall health and wellbeing of our neighbors who are struggling.” Decisions for the grants from this fund are made by the Lebanon County’s Community Support Fund Committee. The committee is comprised of United Way board members along with additional community members who continually monitor the impact this pandemic is having on our local families.