Now is the time to change our community for the better

Show the Power of Many. Working for All.

As families live paycheck to paycheck, the Coronavirus pandemic has made it even harder for them to make ends meet. Unemployment claims in Dane County have increased from an average of 324 per week (January -March 13) to 4,630 per week (March 14 to May 16), according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Many of these individuals are now looking for resources that can help.

We know this firsthand. Calls to United Way’s 211 information and referral service have skyrocketed in recent months, with calls increasing at one point by over 300%. Our 211 team has been working nonstop to connect people to the critical health and economic services they need to help them find hot food, pay the rent or keep the lights on. Between March 3 and May 15 of this year, our statewide 211 system had already taken nearly 18,500 Coronavirus related calls.

But these struggles are not new.

The challenges our community faces because of Coronavirus were there long before the virus even existed: more than 61,000 households in Dane County, including 5,395 families with children under 18, are living in poverty. That means that children do not have access to healthy food, and our neighbors do not have enough income the cover their basic needs.

For nearly 100 years, United Way of Dane County has been the place where our community comes together to address our toughest challenges. Whether recovering from devastating flooding across southern Wisconsin, the frightening explosion in downtown Sun Prairie or the daily disaster of thousands of our neighbors who are experiencing poverty, we quietly pull together nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, grassroots organizations, volunteers, donors and everyday citizens to weather the storm.

Times of crisis are also times of opportunity. When everything is broken, it allows us to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that we never thought possible. Forbes Magazine recently named Madison as one of the top ten U.S. cities best positioned to recover quickly from the coronavirus pandemic. Now is the right time to ensure that our collective actions, resources and systems are changed for the better so we can work together to build community well-being and rebuild our economy.

United Way is here to help. We are planning for – and working to prevent – a new wave of hunger and homelessness due to the economic downtown in our community that has left many families unable to pay for necessities like food, rent and healthcare. We are ready to meet this moment and build a strong and inclusive social, economic, nonprofit and educational sector that works for everyone throughout Dane County.

As United Way begins our next 100 years of service to meet community and family needs, join us. Help us realize our vision of a Dane County where everyone can succeed in school, work and life.