United Way launching COVID-19 response fund

CORVALLIS — The United Way of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties announced it has started a dedicated fund to meet the needs of vulnerable community members and the nonprofits that serve them in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

The first $100,000 in donations received will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to pledges from ATI Specialty Alloys & Components, Benton Community Foundation, Central Willamette Credit Union, OFD Foods and PacificSource.

“The United Way has a long history of helping the most vulnerable among us by partnering with organizations in the communities we serve,” said Blake Pang, president and CEO of United Way of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties. “This new fund will allow us to provide critical funding, fast, to the organizations in our region that need it most as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.”

The funds raised will provide emergency support to community organizations serving vulnerable populations. The goal of this fundraising drive is to keep these organizations running at full capacity during the COVID-19 crisis.

The need to maintain social distancing in response to the pandemic is leading to widespread loss of income. It is severely impacting the efforts of local nonprofits to operate, maintain healthy environments for their staffs and clients and fundraise to keep operations going. Added to these challenges are the substantial unplanned expenses related to cleaning facilities frequently to deter the spread of the virus.

Many local nonprofits normally hold spring fundraisers that provide essential funds to keep them operating the rest of the year. Canceling these events due to social distancing guidelines represents a collective loss of millions of dollars typically raised at these events to meet community needs.

Disbursements to nonprofits will become available as early as next week through an expedited grant application process. Funds will be paid to organizations over the next six months. The hope is to raise sufficient funds to provide financial stability for local nonprofits once the COVID-19 crisis has subsided.

People can donate to the local COVID-19 response effort at United Way at www.unitedwaylbl.org/donate. No administrative costs will be deducted from donations related to COVID-19 relief. Those who had planned to attend now-canceled fundraising events are encouraged to donate to those organizations in support of their missions.

The United Way is also maintaining a list of resources for community members seeking support during the COVID-19 crisis: www.unitedwaylbl.org/covid-19resources. This list provides resources for community members who need emergency food supplies, temporary shelter or direct financial assistance.