Chris Preston, United Way Worldwide’s vice president for corporate relations, has seen some of those impacts firsthand as more employees lose their jobs and financial security. He says that United Way’s 211 referral helpline, which helps connect people in need to resources for rent and utility assistance, supplemental food and nutrition programs, employment services, health information and more, has seen a 300 percent spike in calls. “A lot of the calls are around COVID-19,” he says. “And a lot of folks are having their hours and jobs cut. So they’re reaching out for basic needs in terms of rent and or utility assistance. And then we’re also starting to see either family members or members of community reaching out to better understand how to help elderly in this time, because they’re considered more of a vulnerable population when it comes to COVID-19.”
United Way Worldwide, which works in about 1,800 communities in 40 countries, recently announced the creation of the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund, which supports local United Ways as they work to help people impacted by COVID-19. While the United Way and other nonprofits are ready and able to offer help, when it comes to this pandemic, Preston says there are endless opportunities for businesses to make an impact in their own communities. He shared the following advice on how they can take care of their employees, help vulnerable populations, assist area nonprofits and support other businesses.