United Ways of Utah join forces to create COVID-19 Community Response Fund, offer basic needs resources

Stock image of the Sugarloaf or Dixie Rock inset with United Way Dixie's logo, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by St. George News

ST. GEORGE — In an effort to alleviate some of the economic impact many Utah families are facing as a result of the coronavirus, the Southern Utah chapter of the United Way has joined with the collective United Ways of Utah in creating the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

United Way Dixie Logo | Image courtesy of United Way Dixie, St. George News

“Our focus during this outbreak is to ensure services are available to low-income families and individuals impacted the most during this time,” Rebekah Pectol, executive director of United Way Dixie, said in a press release. “We are working with United Ways across Utah to direct financial support to organizations providing services and responding to immediate needs of those experiencing economic hardships due to the pandemic.”

Locally, government and health regulations forced the cancellation of several fundraising events, including the 20th annual SkyWest Airlines Mini Indy, which is United Way Dixie’s largest benefiting charity event of the year. It directly helps 15 area nonprofit organizations that provide nearly 36 vital human service programs in the area.

Pectol told St. George News that while United Way Dixie understands the need to follow state and federal health guidelines during this time, they remain committed to helping their nonprofit partners. The organization is asking for the public’s support as they try to serve those who will be impacted the most.

“United Way Dixie’s top concern is for the health and safety of our community while simultaneously ensuring that our human service programs remain strong,” Pectol said.

Some of the hardest hit organizations are the Utah Food Bank and Switchpoint Community Resource Center, both of which have seen a decrease in donations and volunteerism due to increasing financial strain and health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Switchpoint’s food pantry serves 400-600 households each week, including seniors, veterans and children, and according to a previous St. George News report, they are currently experiencing “very lean days” in regards to food and volunteers.

The United Way Dixie COVID-19 Community Response Fund will provide resources to organizations working with individuals who are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the potentially devastating economic consequences on low-income families and individuals. The fund is designed to expand local nonprofit organizations’ capacities to address the economic impact on area communities’ most vulnerable citizens as efficiently as possible, the press release said.

The fund will support the following programs and services:

  • Rental assistance or mortgage payment assistance.
  • Rapid rehousing, shelter diversion and homeless shelters.
  • Crisis nurseries and childcare providers.
  • Healthcare services for vulnerable Utah residents.
  • Information and referral via Utah 211.

United Ways of Utah are connecting people to resources via Utah 211, an information and referral service with a database of more than 10,000 basic needs services. As part of the state’s disaster response plan, 211 is coordinating closely with the state to meet the increased demand for information about COVID-19 and resources for those impacted, while acting as a connection point for families seeking services and resources. Individuals can call 2-1-1, text their zip code to 898-211, or get connected online.

More information on the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, including how to donate, can be found by visiting United Way Dixie’s website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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