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United Way Alliance starts fund for outbreak assistance

From left, Chris Day, Community Bank commercial loan officer; Stacy DeCicco, executive director of the United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley, and Susan Barber, Community Bank president. The bank contributed $1,000 to the United Way’s COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Fund, the first corporate sponsor of the relief fund targeting vulnerable groups impacted by the coronavirus in the region. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — The United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley has created an emergency fund for those impacted by the response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response & Recovery Fund was established by United Way to provide the community a safe, reliable, transparent way to make contributions that will have local impact during the crisis, Stacy DeCicco, executive director of the United Way, said.

The discretionary emergency fund goes hand-in-hand with the United Way Alliance’s 211 information program, DeCicco said. Many people call the 211 information service looking for help, she said.

“It makes a lot of sense for us to do this,” DeCicco said. “Because we operate 211, we know that a lot of needs are coming in.”

The fund received major boosts through the benevolence of Community Bank and the Deitzler Foundation, according to DeCicco.

The Deitzler Foundation gave the United Way $25,000. Harry Deitzler, a local attorney and a proprietor of the Deitzler Foundation, said he was concerned about waiters and waitresses who depend on tips to feed their children and other workers who will be out of work for the next month.

The Deitzler Foundation is administered by Deitzler and his wife, Kathe.

“Kathe and I contacted Stacy DeCicco at the United Way because we were worried about the wonderful waiters and waitresses who depend on tips to feed themselves and their children, and also other workers who will be out of work for the next month,” Deitzler said. “Private foundations cannot give cash directly to individuals, and Deitzler Foundation does not have staff to administer those payments even if it was an option.”

The Deitzlers wanted to know if a local program existed which donors can be assured their money is directly going to people in need during the crisis, he said.

“We were impressed that Stacy, Michelle, and Delaney at United Way already have a program in place, not just passing money on to other charities who may have otherwise kept the money back for other purposes. That is why Deitzler Foundation delivered the $25,000,” he said.

The Deitzlers are major contributors to the United Way, too.

“Also we reassured them that the United Way will still get Deitzler Foundation’s full annual donation separately when the annual drive starts again this fall. We do not want this emergency to take away from the annual United Way fundraising upon which so many of our local charities depend.”

DeCicco is appreciative of the contributions. Community Bank, which gave $1,000, is the first corporate gift to the program, she said.

Needs, situations and emergencies people find themselves in include medical supplies, alcohol wipes if they are diabetic, food service employees who are not working during the lock down and people whose S.N.A.P. benefits may not be enough to cover them, DeCicco said.

“We’re finding each day some really challenging situations,” she said.

The Emergency Response & Recovery Fund will be discretionary to individuals or agencies experiencing a hardship as a result of the crisis, she said.

Donors to the fund will have access to information showing where the gift was directed, DeCicco said. All of the funds donated to the COVID-19 Emergency Response & Recovery Fund will be used to address emerging needs related to the crisis, she said.

Particularly vulnerable populations, as identified through the ongoing 211 community needs reviews, will be targeted, DeCicco said. Those include individuals with disabilities, senior populations, lower-income households not receiving assistance, childcare-age children of essential service personnel, furloughed service industry personnel and foster grand families.

“At this point we are actively engaging critical dialogues with agencies and service providers throughout our region,” she said. “We are monitoring the situation by engaging with stakeholders across the region and sharing up to the minute developments. We are continually assessing the evolving needs and determining what best practices and next steps are going to look like in this unprecedented crisis.”

Contributions can be designated to specific areas or interest points within the scope of the United Way, she said. Call the office to coordinate.

The United Way also added another option to make contributions to the fund by using a phone to text MOVResponse to 40403 to make a gift, she said.

Jess Mancini can be reached at jmancini@newsandsentinel.com.

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