In many aspects, quarantining at home has been isolating these last few months. Fortunately, it hasn’t diminished our connection to our community — to you.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our donors and neighbors across the region have reached out to us, offering help to those who’ve been hit hardest by the health and wealth crisis. We’ve been amazed and motivated by your generosity.
As a long-time convener of corporate donors and community organizations, United Way of Metro Chicago is in a unique position to quickly respond to these calls. In just days, we and The Chicago Community Trust created a response fund to support people across the region. Together, we raised more than $33 million and granted money to more than 350 organizations.
United Way also created new ways to engage volunteers in the virtual world. Our savvy Partner Engagement team whipped up projects for our corporate donors and neighbors to do right at home.
“Many volunteers have raised their hands to join front-line agencies in providing support, but we’ve also seen a huge surge in interest to volunteer virtually,” said Brian Cataldo, senior manager of Engagement Strategy. “No longer do we need to connect volunteers to a specific location, we’re able to meet volunteers where they’re at to address the immediate needs of the community.”
Employees of UPS and Zurich, two of our corporate partners, created nearly 500 masks using our instruction guide. They tuned into Zoom for the afternoon activity and a bit of social connection with their colleagues. Once collected, the masks will be sent to essential workers on the front lines.
“I thought the event was really great! I learned more about how United Way [is] helping out communities,” one volunteer said. “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to contribute to a good cause, and I really appreciate your time and efforts in making this work especially in a virtual, challenging environment.”
Other volunteers helped job-seekers virtually prepare for their employment search.
Our community partner Safer Foundation paired its clients with employees from West Monroe Partners to do mock interviews for food service and manufacturing jobs. The volunteers shared feedback about the client’s responses and reviewed their resumes, helping them sharpen their skills.
Safer Foundation works with people who were formerly incarcerated. They already face structural barriers and a stigma that makes it difficult to find quality, well-paying jobs. Now, our state is facing massive unemployment across industries, making this support critical for job-seekers.