United Way's Response to COVID-19

“The phrase ‘Live United’ has never been more applicable. I am humbled by the amount of collaboration and kindness I have witnessed from community members and organizations in response to supporting local small businesses who are struggling, supporting seniors through volunteerism, and providing for our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. I wholeheartedly believe that we will come out on the other side of this crisis stronger, more resourceful, and resilient. We are being forced to think and act differently, which is difficult and uncomfortable. Our ability to navigate change and look for opportunities while weathering the storm is going to make us stronger as a community.” – Brooke Smith, CEO

United Way Lebanon County Community Support Fund:
We made an immediate and intentional shift towards emergency fundraising even before the virus officially reached our county. As a community convener, United Way is naturally positioned to help direct resources to areas where they are needed most within our nonprofit community. With the support of our Board of Directors, the team at United Way has created a collective community fund to prepare for the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on Lebanon County. The Community Support Fund is focused on efforts related to food security and basic needs to support our nonprofit partners experiencing an increased demand as a result of COVID-19.

Virtual 5KRun/Walk: Want a fun, family-friendly way to take part in our fundraising efforts while still staying safe and social distancing? Lebanon High School student, Owen Sheetz, has set up a virtual 5K now through May 3. 

United Way COVID-19 Initiatives:
In addition to our fundraising efforts, United Way is providing support and leadership to our nonprofit community as we work together to get through this worldwide pandemic. Here are some other ways our organization is supporting the Lebanon Community:

  • Partnering with a local school district to distribute 800 books at student meal pick up sites through a donation from First Books to continue supporting early literacy support for local children during a critical time when schools and libraries are closed.
  • Organized a blood drive in partnership with the YMCA and the Red Cross, that generated 24 pints of blood during a time when we are seeing a national blood shortage, which can help save up to 72 lives!
  • Scheduling and facilitating regular virtual meetings with businesses, government, education, and nonprofit organizations to ensure there is a space to align efforts, share information, and maximize collaboration during a time when the necessity to work together is critical.
  • Providing critical resources to our nonprofit partners through weekly emails related to small business loans, free webinar trainings, and grant opportunities.
  • Staying connected to our statewide network and participating in advocacy initiatives that will support nonprofits.
  • Hosting a new interview series on Facebook called 'Community Connections' to share information on topics focused on health care, food insecurity, kindness projects, mental health, child abuse prevention, and local seniors as it relates to the pandemic. Check our our previous episodes here
  • Created a COVID-19 resource page on our website that includes critical information for community members and organizations.
  • Coordinating volunteers for "Feeding the Frontliners," an initiative started by Larry Bowman, a former CEO of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, and being executed by Larry, Lebanon Family Health Services, and United Way thanks to a $25,000 allocation from the Lebanon County Board of Commissioners.

United Way Investments are Making an Impact During Uncertain Times:
Our community investments made before the pandemic have been playing key roles in supporting our community and helping families stabilize, even though no one could have predicted this was a situation any of us would be in. 

211 is playing a critical role in responding to the needs of community members. Lebanon County residents can access this free, social services hotline 24/7 to get connected to locally available resources. We have seen a huge uptick in inquiries to 211 as we now have  more community members struggling due to loss of employment, reduction in hours, struggling business, etc. We are seeing individuals who have never had to navigate the social service system look for resources. If you need help, you can dial 211 or text your zip code to 898211. You can also text PACOVID to 898211 to opt in for helpful information from PA 211 related to the pandemic. 

Our nonprofit program partners are addressing critical community goals around basic needs, family stability, early literacy, and keeping our youth connected to school. These county-wide initiatives will be needed more than ever as we emerge on the other side of this pandemic as a different community. Our partners have quickly learned how to use digital platforms to adapt their services and programming. Some of these services include, but are certainly not limited to: 
  • Virtual counseling for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.

  • Zoom homework help for middle school students while after school programs are closed.

  • Adult education support through video conferencing.

  • Grab and go meal options for our most vulnerable community members.

  • Housing those experiencing homeless in local hotel rooms.

  • Online book readings and access to e-books.

As Lebanon County suffers the economic consequences of mandated shutdowns and job losses, our community will need to rely on our social service organizations more than ever. Likewise, nonprofits rely on the generosity of our community in order to provide these services. 

Thank you for your continued support of United Way and our vision for an even stronger future for Lebanon County. 

While our office is currently closed, your United Way team continues to work remotely. Feel free to reach out!

If you need to reach us by phone, please call 717.675.8411.