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How Local United Way Chapters Are Supporting Disasters including COVID-19

Episode #15
11.11.2020

The United Way has over 1,100 chapters around the United States supporting needs in local communities. The United Way of the Mohawk Valley serves Oneida and Herkimer Counties in the Utica area of Upstate New York. The agency supports a variety of community programs including food banks, after school programs, job and career programs, tax filing services, and hosting the communities 2-1-1 network. 

About the United Way of the Mohawk Valley

United Way of the Mohawk Valley is an independent, volunteer-led, locally governed, non-profit organization that has been serving the people of the Mohawk Valley since 1921.

The Mohawk Valley chapter began as the Utica Community Chest on November 1, 1921. Founding executives included Fredrick T. Proctor, Warnick J. Kernan, and Frank X. Matt. Our United Way addresses the root causes of key issues, is accountable for stewardship of resources, and is accountable for short-term and long-term results. We partner with community volunteers to best serve the Mohawk Valley with the Board of Directors and several committees made up entirely of local volunteer experts and professionals.

The United Way of the Mohawk Valley is one of the community's largest nonprofits, funding dozens of local programs and initiatives. They work with funding partners to ensure outcomes are being met and impact is being made. Through their Strategic Investment process, United Way carefully analyzes local needs, as well as social and economic changes in the community before thoroughly reviewing the agency’s request for support. This process allows the agency to make tough, yet smart, goal-oriented decisions regarding the region's most critical needs. To be considered for United Way funding, each program must meet a number of important standards, including but not limited to the following; the agency must provide a human care service that meets an important need in the community, be governed by a board of volunteers, be legally recognized as a not-for-profit organization, comply with New York State (not-for-profit) audit guidelines, and operate at a reasonable cost.

Topics Covered

  • The United Way of the Mohawk Valley serves communities of all sizes and demographic makeup in Oneida and Herkimer Counties in Upstate New York.
  • The organization has raised over $1 million dollars in a special COVID-19 fund to support the community’s needs during the pandemic.
  • The organization is expanding its services to provide fresh food for families who need additional support from being out of work or experiencing a change in wages, children being home from school more, and other impacts of the pandemic.
  • The United Way’s 2-1-1 system can be expanded in a disaster to provide a text response service to help in providing feedback from the public who may need assistance immediately following a disaster.
  • In late October – early November of 2019, heavy rainfall caused significant flooding in the Utica area. The United Way of the Mohawk Valley played a crucial role in providing support to those impacted by the floods. As a member of the Herkimer-Oneida Organizations Active in Disasters (HOOAD), the United Way engaged those impacted through use of the 2-1-1 network.
  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Way established a COVID-19 Fund in partnership with Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counites. Approximately $1 million was raised to purchase life-saving medical equipment, essential PPE, and cleaning supplies, increased access to food, offer technology support, and more. The Rising Phoenix Holdings Corporation provided donations to this fund. About 100,000 masks have been distributed to residents and organizations in need since March.
  • The United Way has created a Take and Make Meal Box campaign designed to provide meals for those impacted from the COVID pandemic. The program is being funded by a grant from the City of Utica and will support the distribution of over 4,500 boxes of food and supplies and hundreds of grocery store gift cards.

Key Takeaways

  • [01:00] Introduction of Guests
  • [01:20] Can you share more on the background of the United Way of the Mohawk Valley?
  • [02:47] What has the United Way of Mohawk Valley been doing this year to support the response to COVID-19?
  • [05:45] What would you say is the greatest need you’ve seen from the pandemic?
  • [07:30] How has COVID impacted how you deliver your services and how are you responding to those challenges?
  • [11:45] How does the local community impact program and the 2-1-1 network support your community?
  • [14:30] How do you collaborate with local emergency management when you operate 2-1-1 to support a disaster?
  • [16:20] Is there a surge capacity to support the 2-1-1 system during a disaster?
  • [18:20] Has the number of calls into your 2-1-1 system increased in 2020 due to COVID-19?
  • [21:50] How can people donate to the United Way to support all of the programs that you shared today?
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Guests

Erin Gutierrez Matt
Erin Gutierrez Matt
CEO
United Way of the Mohawk Valley
Betty Joan Beaudry
Betty-Joan Beaudry
Director of Community Impact and 2-1-1
United Way of the Mohawk Valley

Host

Greg Padgett
Greg Padgett
Media & Communications Strategist

Greg Padgett is the host of Disaster Recovery Roundtable and brings 25 years' experience as a journalist, emergency manager, crisis communicator, and host. From 1991 to 2001, he was a journalist and meteorologist with several TV stations across the southeast U.S. He holds the American Meteorological Society's and National Weather Association's Broadcast Seals of Approval. He previously served as Natural Hazards Program Manager for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, overseeing the development of the state's hurricane, severe weather, flood, and earthquake response plans. He has organized statewide media tours, supported public information officer training, and provided technical assistance in developing response plans and Whole Community preparedness campaigns for local jurisdictions. He also served as an on-air meteorologist for the Weather Channel's Radio Network from 2002 to 2007. He is a past recipient of the National Weather Association's Broadcaster of the Year award.