‘United We Help’ fund established to help people who have lost jobs during pandemic

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 4 May 2020 at 9:11 am

Dean Bellack

Beginning today, United Way of Orleans County will launch a new program to provide more help to members of the community who are struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the new program – United We Help – United Way in collaboration with Community Action will present checks for $100 to individuals who qualify. The fund goes to people who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic but aren’t receiving unemployment yet.

The fund is a result of businesses, individuals, and community groups coming together. United Way is asking those who have the ability to donate to do so online during the month of May.

“We’ll start writing checks in the middle of May and long as the funding keeps coming in we’ll keep writing checks,” said Dean Bellack, United Way director in Orleans County.

The fund already is up to $20,000. Local companies who have made commitments so far include Baxter, Takeform, Heritage Wind and Twin Apple Properties.

Bellack wants to be able to write checks to 300 Orleans County residents who may be struggling at this time due to their job loss. Residents have until May 15 to apply. (Click here for more information.)

George Bidleman, president of United Way’s board, has donated his ad space on Orleans Hub to promote this program. For the next eight weeks, ads will run on the Orleans Hub to make people aware of this fund.

The first applications to apply for the checks were given out by Bellack at Community Action’s food distribution Friday morning at the Main Street Store in Albion.

While the checks aren’t huge, United Way hopes the money will help with groceries or gas in the car. It also shows Orleans County United Way is trying to fill a need in a trying time.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Michelle Figueroa, emergency services case manager at Community Action, listens to Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni explain about the coronavirus to volunteers who helped with a food giveaway Friday morning at the Main Street Store.

“Our goal is to help the most vulnerable in our county,” he said.

Bellack said the United Way Board wanted to make sure they are doing their part in this time of crisis.

The funds Orleans County United way has brought into Orleans County in the past year are approaching $300,000. This includes direct donations from local giving, which will help fund $100,000 in allocations to our partner agencies, contributions from Eastman Savings and Loan and United Way connections to other donors, such as the WNY Covid-19 Fund.

In the next few weeks $25,000 of additional funds will be given in micro grants of $500 to $2,500. Bellack is forming a review committee now of board and community leaders to make sure the United Way isn’t missing those charities and agencies that need help.

Applications for the United We Help fund must be mailed to Community Action at 409 East State St., Albion by May 15. Checks will be issued by Community Action.

All applications will be reviewed to make sure only one person per address receives funding. Submitting an application is no guarantee of payment.

Applications are available on United Way’s website, and from LYFE Food Emergency in Lyndonville, Jim Hancock and the Emergency Food Pantry at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Medina, Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God food pantry in Medina, Christ Church Community Kitchen in Albion, Kendall Food Cupboard and Community Action.

Anyone needing help to fill out an application may call the 211 Help Line, an agency funded by Orleans County United Way, to receive help from another person.

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