United Way of Greater Cincinnati surpassed its “summer sprint” goal by raising $11 million as it works to address the most significant health and economic threat to Cincinnati in generations.
The organization hopes to raise $50 million by the end of 2020 to help Greater Cincinnati respond and recover from COVID-19. Moira Weir, United Way’s president and CEO, said the region is grappling with high unemployment, evictions and homelessness, isolation, a dismantled child care system, and many other pandemic-related issues.
“We continue to hear how great the need in our community is and how a long-term revitalization effort is necessary,” she said. “United Way of Greater Cincinnati intends to stand in the gaps with direct relief, while also bringing together the right partners to rebuild our systems of care.”
While unemployment rates remain high in the metropolitan area at near 8 percent, Weir said some industries, such as the restaurant industry, were decimated far beyond that, leaving unemployed workers unable to pay rent or buy food. United Way partner agencies respond daily to those needs
“Some agencies that help feed the hungry experienced three to five times the need they normally see,” she said. “In other areas, such as child care, we see a system where half of all child care centers may have to close because they were shut down for so long, which will cause a severe shortage during a time when parents are working and children may be doing school remotely. It is a system that needs to be rebuilt.”
Vanessa Freytag, CEO of 4C for Children, a leading authority on child care, agreed, saying the system will need intense collaboration and an infusion of resources to rebound.
“We have some long-time providers shutting their doors, with no plans to re-open; they just couldn’t survive this hit,” she said. “Our greatest concern is there are many more providers who are hanging on by a thread – literally weighing the future of their program week-to-week. Together we need to ensure these programs stay open!”
David Taylor, Procter & Gamble chairman, president and CEO, is leading the 2020 United Way campaign. He said the solid fundraising start gives him hope, but it is not a reason to slow down. Taylor brought together a diverse team of 80 local leaders to help him raise funds to deal with the fallout of this once-in-a-lifetime crisis.
“United Way is needed now more than ever; many of the people who need our help have never had to ask for help in their lives,” he said. “We must be there for them in their time of need. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and a strong start does not guarantee a strong finish.”
“We know many people want to help their neighbors in this time of need – they just want to know how and where,” Weir said. “We set up text giving – just text waytohelp to 50503 – and a website where our community can step forward and pledge support to our response, recovery and revitalization effort.”