COVID-19: United Way of the Southern Tier messages to agency partners

Logo with the words COVID-19 Unity Response Fund. A person holding a heart shape is used in place of the i in Unity.

Apply for COVID-19 Unity Response Fund grants

United Way of the Southern Tier is proud to partner with the Corning Incorporated Foundation, Triangle Fund (in honor of Amo Houghton), and Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, to create the COVID-19 Unity Response Fund to support nonprofits that serve Chemung, Schuyler or Steuben counties. 

The fund will provide grants to agencies and programs that: 
** Support basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, and other essentials such as toiletries; 
** Offer assistance to our most vulnerable populations including senior citizens, children and families in need; 
** Help essential workers in our community on the frontlines of COVID-19 by supporting childcare and transportation; 
** Provide mental health services to support our community in these challenging times. 

Applications and FAQs are on the Community Foundation's website.

Letter to partners

The following letter was sent to United Way of the Southern Tier's agency partners from our President & CEO Stephen M. Hughes: 

March 27, 2020

Over the past few days, each of our lives have changed in dramatic ways we could not have foreseen just one month ago. And clearly, in these uncertain times, the children, families, seniors and communities that are our collective purpose are facing greater challenges than ever before.

All of this has implications for our work. Many of us must rightly turn our attention to addressing the most basic needs and concerns, not only for the people we serve, but also for own staff, children and families.

In light of these shifts, United Way of the Southern Tier is making some interim changes in how it operates, and works with its agency and program partners.

• Our office is officially closed, but all staff members are working remotely and are accessible. All phone lines have been forwarded to our cell phones; email is flowing, as always. We remain committed to being available to our partners as much as current working conditions allow.

• Yesterday, our board of directors approved the continuation of all program funding at the allocated level through the remainder of the 2019-2020 fiscal year (June 30). There will be no reductions based on reduced deliverables. 

• We recognize that service delivery in this environment is not “business as usual.” Reporting requirements will be relaxed during this period to allow you to focus on serving the most pressing needs in the most appropriate way. As we work together to determine how best to support the community during this period, UWST will be providing the flexibility for you to ensure the health and safety of your staff, as well as the people you serve. 

• We are grateful for your dedication to and creativity in meeting the needs of seniors, children, and families as you are dealing with unprecedented challenges. Whatever may come, we aim to be supportive and understanding throughout this period.

We recognize that some of you are participating in other calls, but would like to schedule a virtual UW agency director’s meeting via Zoom in the near future. This will allow us to touch base specifically with all of our funded partners to share current conditions, which are rapidly evolving, as well as how best to work together to meet the growing needs.  Please watch for a survey under separate cover.

This is uncharted territory for everyone, and none of us knows what lies ahead. But we know that our collaborative efforts to meet the growing needs will make a meaningful difference in the days and months to come. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions or concerns.  

Sincerely, and on behalf of the staff and board of directors,

Stephen M. Hughes