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United Way responds to ongoing social needs amplified by pandemic

by | Jul 22, 2021 | Local News | 0 comments

Last week, United Way East Ontario invested in 39 programs across Ottawa, Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County to respond to the ongoing needs in our communities exacerbated and amplified by the pandemic.   

As optimism grows with vaccinations and economic reopening plans, United Way recognizes that the social challenges of COVID-19 have not gone away, and many people are still struggling. The $2 million investment will:   

  • provide basic needs like food and PPE;  
  • support isolated seniors and their caregivers;   
  • strengthen mental health supports;  
  • address learning loss among vulnerable children and youth;  
  • empower community services to continue their frontline work; and  
  • build a more equitable recovery from the pandemic.   

COVID-19 did not create inequities, but it has exacerbated the chronic social challenges people were already facing, like poverty, social isolation, and mental health. The pandemic has also disproportionately impacted people who were already marginalized by systems that did not recognize or include them: Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized communities, women, low-wage workers, people with disabilities, seniors, and others. This investment will address these ongoing issues, with an equity lens that will uplift the people who have been systemically sidelined, so no one is left behind.  

“Since the launch of the Coalition of Lanark County Youth Centres Food and Nutrition Program in July of 2020, we have served over 48,000 meals to people in need across Lanark County thanks to funding from United Way Eastern Ontario,” says Sarah Bingham, Managing Director of the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre.  

“Even as things begin to open up again and people can get back to work, we know that demand for food security remains high as families struggle to catch up on bills and expenses. We are so grateful that the thousands of individuals who rely on these meals every single week will still be able to count on us right through to December 31 because of the continued support of United Way Eastern Ontario.” 

“It will take courage, commitment, and innovation to continue tackling systemic challenges while many people return to a pre-pandemic feeling of normalcy,” said Michael Allen, President and CEO of United Way East Ontario. “We will continue tackling the most complex challenges our communities face, and we will take the lessons of the pandemic with us to build a more equitable future—that is the power of United Way.”  

Through the pandemic, United Way East Ontario has chaired the COVID-19 Community Response Table—a group of more than 100 partner organizations and subject matter experts who deployed more than 60 rapid response solutions to respond to the challenges of the pandemic in its first year.   

With support from the Community Response Table, United Way has helped more than 130,000 people stay alive healthy, and safe with data-driven investments and collaborative advocacy since March 2020. For more on how we’ve supported our communities through the pandemic, see our COVID-19 Response Impact Report.  

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