Learn how United Way is helping
Modified on 12/31/2020 at 04:55pm

This year, the pandemic and all of the life changes that came with it, has led to greater need in our community than previous years. United Way is one of those organizations that can unite people to tackle challenges on a scale no single individual or organization can do on their own.

Click below to find out more about what the United Way does and the partner agencies they support.

Support the “We are UNITED” campaign

How the United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties is making a difference in a year like no other

United Way’s 211 helpline

211, a vital service supported by United Way, makes sure everyone who needs help can get it – for free. In Iowa alone, the United Way 211 service took nearly 58,000 COVID-19 related calls between March and August.

Disaster relief

Over the last eight months, United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties (UWJWC) has worked tirelessly to do all they can to mitigate the immediate impact of the coronavirus as well as support individuals affected by the devastating derecho storm. Quickly United Way adopted the mantra “Respond, Recover,Reimagine &Rebuild.

The UWJWC Community Disaster Relief to date has provided assistance for Food, Household Cleaning Supplies, Medications & Rent for:

  • 154 Households
  • 227 Adults
  • 206 Children

They also ignited a network of volunteers who have made over 3,000 face masks for community members and partner agencies.

COVID-19 and mental health

The COVID-19 pandemic, and all the life changes that came with it, has had a universally negative effect on mental health. For some, there has been a tangible loss of family or friends, or in income or jobs. For others, the loss is less tangible, and the effects are connected to a lack of routine and stability. Experts now worry how the winter months might exacerbate this crisis when cold weather, less sunlight, and increased isolation are factored in.

The American Psychiatric Association Publishing reports 64% of people are concerned their mental illness will worsen due to the pandemic.  According to NAMI, a disproportionate number of people are part of Indigenous and LBGTQA+ communities. Making sure everyone has the same access to mental health support is part of United Way’s commitment to equity.

Eviction and unemployment

Housing and unemployment insurance claims are highly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hard to imagine being evicted from one’s home during the COVID crisis. The underlying problem of many threatened evictions is a loss of income. United Way’s Partner Agencies are prioritizing work to assist clients with unemployment assistance as there is a massive backlog of claims with Iowa Workforce Development.

Requests for legal help with public benefits by Johnson and Washington County residents for the first 10 months of the year rose from 73 in 2019 to 86 in 2020. Most of the 86 requests in 2020 were for unemployment insurance cases compared to 32 in 2019, which more than doubled to 68 in 2020.

Food insecurity

The Hamilton Project reports that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, food insecurity is prevalent now more than ever and increasing at record levels. United Way Partner agencies report there has always been food insecurity, but COVID-19 really made this issue more critical for many families in our community. Families who were not experiencing food insecurity prior to COVID-19 are now experiencing it because of the pandemic’s effects.

Since the pandemic began, in North Liberty, the United Way has seen 148 new families reach out in need of food support services and since March, 560 homes received food deliveries for immunocompromised, quarantine, or otherwise homebound individuals. Information from the nearly 150 new families indicates these households were not in need prior to the pandemic’s start.

Holiday Adopt-A-Family

In 2019, United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties connected 44 local families (213 individuals) with adopters through the Holiday Adopt-A-Family program. Over 30 families have already been referred to United Way for the 2020 holiday season.

Staffing needs for non-profits

One United Way partner agency reports having lost 60% of their volunteer force as it was comprised of mostly older individuals who do not feel safe working with the public anymore or are at high risk. Making up for this loss with paid staff, coupled with purchasing PPE for staff and clients, has imposed a large, unanticipated negative impact on agency budgets.

Where can I find more information about United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties?

Find out more about what the United Way does, and the partner agencies they support.

How can I support the 2020 “We are UNITED” campaign?