In response to the daily challenges that the novel coronavirus disease brings to southern West Virginian communities, United Way of Southern West Virginia has established the Community Response & Recovery Fund – an account that will help sustain and expand United Way’s WV 2-1-1 efforts, support partner agencies and apply community response to the COVID-19 crisis affecting those in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming counties, as well as the town of Bluefield, Va.

According to United Way, its goal is to remain the community’s “resource of resources," especially now in those communities' time of need.

“We have been working to adapt to the daily changes in our southern West Virginia community,” stated the organization’s executive director, Megan Legursky.

“This is an unprecedented time for everyone. It is our goal to be a vessel for communication, connections, and resources.”

The fund will help expand the United Way’s WV 2-1-1 database, which keeps an accurate and comprehensive collection of health and human services and disaster-related sources, so that individuals can learn about specific programs, intake requirements, eligibility, operation hours and more.

This program – a collaboration among the state’s 14 individual United Ways – is a free, 24-hour service that covers an assortment of topics such as addiction, mental health, food, health care, jobs and education re-entry, disabilities, domestic violence and human trafficking.

According to Legursky, the fund, which she says is a way to allow those with the capacity to give and to give in confidence, will also assist the continued functioning of essential services such as food pantries, food delivery, senior citizen assistance, after-school programs, etc., that are provided by local agencies.

On its website, United Way lists its 2020 approved partner agencies including the Beckley Dream Center, Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, Family Refuge Center, Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council, Hospice of Southern WV, New River Health Association and several others.

Each approved agency was determined by a grant application submission, a detailed sited review by United Way board members, and approval by the United Way Reinvestment Committee.

In a press release regarding the fund, United Way stated that it wants to uncover gaps in service as well as identify needs in the southern West Virginia area.

“This pandemic will create several challenges for those whom we serve and partner with regularly," Legursky said. "On top of all those organizations and individuals, we want to try to prepare to serve many who have never experienced such hard times.”

Those who want to give to the Community Response & Recovery Fund can do so directly through PayPal at www.paypal.me/unitedwayswvcovid19, through United Way’s website at www.unitedwayswv.org/recoveryfund or by mailing a check with the memo line “COVID-19” to United Way of SWV, PO BOX 5456, Beckley, WV 25801.

Legursky was not able to give exact details on each step of the disbursement process. She said that a committee of United Way board members will determine how the funds from the Community Response & Recovery Fund will be divided and that a number of different factors will be considered during the assessment.

United Way of Southern West Virginia is at 110 Croft St. in Beckley. For more information visit United Way’s website or call 304-253-2111.

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