United Way preparing for 2nd round of COVID-19 Community Relief Fund grants

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CULLMAN, Ala. – As United Way of Cullman County (UWCC) held its virtual 2019-20 campaign celebration Wednesday, The Tribune got to sit down with Executive Director Becky Goff to get caught up on the agency’s COVID-19 Community Relief Fund.

Goff reported that UWCC has raised more than $30,000, so far, for COVID-19 relief efforts from many donors, including large gifts from the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Cullman Lions Club, Jack’s Family Fund, Regions Bank, Havoline Xpress Lube, The Daniel Foundation, Truist Foundation and Wells Fargo.

“We launched the relief fund mostly the week right after the event occurred, and our board released the emergency funds of $5,000 to get it started,” she said. “From that point on, we’ve been able to collect donations from community volunteers here in our community, but we’ve been really blessed to get a lot of foundation grants and national partnerships through our United Way worldwide, and our state of Alabama United Way board that we work with has enabled us to bring resources to the community. That is another blessing of having a United Way presence here in Cullman County. We’re bringing resources to the community that we, otherwise, would not have been able to get to help bring relief to our community.”

Goff continued, “It’s been a real blessing to see, not only community folks donating and helping to support our community, but also being able to benefit from those national and statewide foundations who recognize the value that United Way brings to the community, and how we can quickly respond to needs and disburse those resources appropriately to the organizations who can do good work with them.”

UWCC’s first round of donations was mostly given as emergency funds to food pantries and organizations offering feeding programs.  The following organizations received $500 grants at that time: 

  • Cullman Caring for Kids
  • Pilot Light Home
  • Victim Services
  • Parkside Outreach Program
  • The Link of Cullman County
  • Daystar Church
  • First United Methodist Church
  • North Alabama Agriplex Foundation
  • Restoring Women Outreach
  • Cullman Little Pantry
  • Child Advocacy Center

 

Its first round of grants considered a success, UWCC is taking applications for a second round of grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in our community involved in health or human service type programming, especially those impacted by doing COVID-19 relief, unable to hold scheduled fundraisers, seeing increased demand for services, having to purchase protective gear or cleaning supplies that exceed budgets or facing other problems due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Said Goff, “We are going to be sending out a needs assessment to non-profits, asking them what is it that they could use some additional support from United Way’s grant process, and kind of just tell us what their expectancy is as far as, maybe, their operational finances are stretched, or they’ve seen an impact. Those grants will be able to help them meet some of those needs.”

Organizations seeking grants will have to complete an application to be submitted for review, and those that received a grant in the first round can re-apply. Those with up-to-date documentation already on file still have to apply, but will not have to resubmit the same documentation. 

Goff said, “We still keep everybody accountable, and we have to be very careful, making sure everybody’s vetted. You can count on United Way to make sure that the agencies tell us where the money’s being spent, and we’re verifying that. So that’s another blessing of giving to United Way: you know where your money’s going.”

Your organization does not have to be a UWCC partner agency to receive funds, as Goff explained, “We’ve extended our footprint because we know United Way is for the whole community. While we continue to support our network programs- and they are a priority for us- we want to make sure they’re, because we know they’re already vetted, and they’re essential and have been delivering, for many years, some of their programming, so they are a priority for us. 

“But we also know that there are a lot of other good organizations who haven’t been able to receive funding from United Way but are still doing great work. We want to support them, too, because they help our community. And like I’ve always said, anything that benefits our community as a whole benefits each and every one of us. That’s what United Way is here for.”

UWCC will begin taking applications within the next 60 days. Review and approval can take as little as one to two days. Agencies already in the UWCC system will receive applications by email; those not in the system will be able to apply through the UWCC website at www.uwaycc.org.  

Anyone who wishes to donate to the fund can also visit the website. You can mail checks to:

United Way of Cullman County, P.O. Box 116, Cullman, AL 35056. 

For more information, call 256-739-2948.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com