By Valarie Waddle
It has been said that the only constant in life, is change. This rings true for many facets of life and community needs are no exception. As we have highlighted in previous issues of The Local, our community is fortunate to have many organizations dedicated not only to addressing those needs, but also to evolving their programs and services to suite those needs. One of the most established organizations serving our area is doing its share to evolve with the changing needs of the area, including providing assistance to those affected by COVID-19 and expanding into northern Eddy County.
Formerly United Way of Carlsbad and South Eddy County, United Way of Eddy County has recently absorbed the Artesia United Way to better serve all of Eddy County. The dedicated team at the local United Way office has been working diligently to meet the needs of both communities and the effects of the pandemic. For the first time, United Way is currently offering direct financial services to residents of Eddy County, a change that Executive Director Linda Dodd is excited to provide.
“Families affected by COVID are able to apply for assistance directly from our website. Through the COVID-19 Emergency relief fund, we are able to provide direct assistance to families for rent, utilities, prescription medications, food, and childcare” says Dodd. Funding for childcare is also a new contribution to meeting the needs of our community. Additionally, this fund has also allowed United Way to partner with other non-profits to provide hot meals to families, from local restaurants, affected by COVID. Project Feeding Families collaborates with local agencies to identify families to receive hot meals delivered to their homes. Because the relief fund is comprised solely of donations designated for COVID relief, contributing some of that funding to local restaurants is a great way to foster relationships between the non-profit agencies, their clientele, local businesses, and the United Way; while benefitting various members of the community who have been affected. Emergency funding for non-profits was also made available to any non-profits in the community from the relief fund, which will not affect the eligibility of non-profits to apply for other, non COVID related, grants.
Dodd goes on to say, “The additional services we are providing haven’t disrupted our day to day operations, because we have a very efficient staff who have been able to just kind of roll with it!” Special Events Coordinator/Resource Manager Debbie Terrazas has seen the direct increase in needs, through the 2-1-1 helpline. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the 2-1-1 line would receive an average of 50 calls per month. In April and May, over 200 calls per month were recorded. Calls range from requesting financial assistance, to seeking resources for mental health services.
Though the 2020 campaign will not officially launch until August of this year, April through July typically serves to prepare for the campaign, which will continue through the end of the year. Because the situation will continue to evolve, Dodd anticipates changes in campaign as well as the needs of United Way’s participating agencies. The generosity of the community suggests that the emergency fund will continue to provide assistance for as long as the pandemic affects our community.
Dodd acknowledges the contributions to United Way as an investment in community relief, “We’ve been fortunate to receive so much positive promotion from the City of Carlsbad and other organizations, letting people know that there is a place to go for help and to get information. There are great people in our community who have invested in us, because of their investment in us we can turn around and invest it back into our community.”