United Way is committed to supporting Keys residents already affected by COVID-19 related decreases in tourism and restrictions on businesses which impact their livelihood.
UWFK is leading efforts to respond to this need in Monroe County, with $20,000 disbursed on March 20 to immediately expand capacity of our local food pantries and provide short-term emergency financial assistance for critical needs.
We are carefully planning for a long-term response to the pandemic’s effects in Monroe County, with up to $80,000 more earmarked accordingly. This funding will be allocated by United Way of Collier and the Keys after our merger on April 1. Together, we are committed to work with our partner donors, businesses, and agencies to help meet unmet needs as they arise.
42% of Monroe County individuals and families are not able to make ends meet, despite holding multiple jobs. As businesses close, these Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed (or ALICE) residents, already living paycheck to paycheck, will have to take unpaid time from work, will be laid off, or will not be able to work due to a lack of childcare while schools and daycare centers are closed. That is already the case for many.
Recognizing that an immediate response to COVID-19 was needed, our Board of Directors quickly allocated $20,000 to begin to meet urgent community needs, and they committed up to an additional $80,000 as the situation unfolds.
- $10,000 was disbursed for immediate use by Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, Keys Area interdenominational Resources, Burton Memorial Church and Star of the Sea Foundation to expand the capacity of food pantries throughout the county.
- $10,000 was disbursed to Keys Area Interdenominational Resources and Florida Keys Outreach Coalition to increase short-term emergency financial assistance available to directly aid Keys residents with documented loss of income.
- Up to $80,000 more is earmarked for ongoing response in Monroe County, and this will be allocated by United Way of Collier and the Keys after our merger on April 1. Together, we are committed to work with our partner donors, businesses, and agencies to help meet unmet needs as they arise.
- UWFK is facilitating a weekly call with local human services providers, the county health department and emergency management focused on collaboration and communication, identifying unmet needs in the community, and coordinating responses accordingly.
While UWFK recognizes that our community will need to rely on state and federal assistance, we are also committed to helping provide sorely needed stability directly to our ALICE residents during this chaotic time. As United Way, we will be there for our community. Whatever is needed, however long it is needed.
VITA Tax Preparation
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable citizens, we have cancelled our VITA tax preparation dates through at least the end of March.
In light of these closures, we are referring clients to the free, online tax preparation site, MyFreeTaxes.com. Through United Way’s partnership with H&R Block, every household with a simple return can securely file their federal and state taxes for free.
We hope to begin offering VITA tax preparation sites again this season, in light of the IRS extension of the tax filing deadline. Please watch our Facebook page and KeysUnitedWay.org/vita2020 for updates.
Where to Get Help
Any Monroe County resident needing assistance should consult our online Community Resource Guide at KeysUnitedWay.org/CommunityResourceGuide. There, you can find information about local, state, and federal services and programs related to COVID-19. We are working hard to keep the information as up to date and complete as possible, to support our community.
What Can You Do?
UWFK and our partner agencies are receiving many offers from people wanting volunteer during this crisis, and we are so grateful. Due to the health risk, volunteer opportunities may be limited. "Like" some of your local nonprofits' pages on Facebook and watch your Newsfeed for their volunteer opportunities, or contact MonroeCounty-FL.gov/VolunteerMonroe.
Another way to help the community is to continue to follow the CDC's recommendation of staying home and limiting interactions with others as much as possible. This is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19. This united effort will enable our community to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
While everyone is affected by this pandemic, if you are better able to weather its financial effects, our friends and neighbors need support now more than ever.
Many in the Keys and across the country are already feeling a financial strain. If you are able to give, any designated gift will help us keep local programs open and responding as residents’ needs in our community grow. Contributions designated for COVID-19 relief will help Monroe County individuals and families through this difficult time.
These times are uncertain, but over and over again we see that our donors, partners and the people we serve are filled with generosity, compassion, and courage. Together, we #LiveUnited.