The United Way of Frederick County has announced the launch of an emergency relief fund with the backing by community philanthropists to help families curb the economic fallout of COVID-19.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced mandatory closing of all shopping malls and enclosed entertainment centers Thursday morning, following more sweeping actions such as shutting down all bars, restaurants and movie theaters earlier this week.
Starting this week, in hopes of getting in front of the major economic challenges that these shutdowns will bring, the United Way convened with philanthropists in the community to put together the emergency relief fund, said Ken Oldham, United Way of Frederick County president and CEO. The Frederick News-Post is a promotional partner to help raise awareness of the campaign.
“This is really unprecedented territory and [the economic fallout of coronavirus] is going to be a big deal for our community,” Oldham said. “There’s going to be lots of families hurting, and we felt obligated to put together this response.”
The initial goal for the Emergency Relief Campaign will be $100,000, but it’s anticipated that community need will exceed this amount. The campaign will continue until the COVID-19 crisis has ended, according to a release from the nonprofit.
To encourage others to give, the first $26,000 in contributions will be matched dollar for dollar by the Laughlin Family Foundation and Michael and Betsy Day.
Even before the COVID-19 shutdowns, nearly 40 percent of Frederick County households could not afford basic necessities, Oldham said. So this crisis will cause significantly more challenges.
Typically, under most United Way campaigns, if residents could not afford to give dollars, the United Way would accept volunteers to give their time. But given the public health concerns, Oldham said the best thing people can do is stay home and contribute money if they can afford it.
Oldham said the coronavirus is still new, but he anticipates hearing stories from families in the community soon about the financial hardships they’re encountering.
“The stories are going to be heart-wrenching,” Oldham said. “We’re hearing a lot about [job] layoffs. This is going to impact these families severely.”
Oldham said he anticipates a lot of pressure also being placed on shelters.
United Way hopes to disburse the funds raised as quickly as possible, and hopes to issue the first checks in the next few weeks, Oldham said. And they plan to distribute the funds to the areas most in need, Oldham said.
Programmatic impacts may include, but are not limited to, emergency shelter, financial stability assistance, transportation needs, prescriptions and medical supplies, food and food supplies for seniors, and suicide prevention and other mental health services, the release said.
United Way of Frederick County will waive all processing fees, and all campaign funding will go to those most in need.
Collaborative partners in the philanthropic funding community include the Ausherman Family Foundation, Community Foundation of Frederick County, Delaplaine Foundation Inc., Helen J. Serini Foundation, the Women’s Giving Circle and others that believe that a coordinated response will ensure maximum impact for critical services. United Way said it will remain fluid to allow more philanthropic groups to join the campaign.