Story of Hope of the Month
United Way Sees Pandemic as a Catalyst for Innovation, Drives Impact in Communities
United Way of Southeast Louisiana aims to eradicate poverty in Southeast Louisiana.
For 95 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and working on the front lines of community problems, both everyday issues and crises. The organization fights to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes.
“We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable, and we have a plan,” says Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. “Our Blueprint for Prosperity guides all our strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty—especially during times like these,” he says.
Before COVID-19, over half of households in Southeast Louisiana were already struggling to make ends meet—now, these families and many more are in crisis. Fortunately, United Way of Southeast Louisiana was built for moments like these.
“In early 2020, United Way transitioned to COVID-19 response, generating over $12M in direct impact since the pandemic started and providing vital services for those who found themselves in crisis—many for the first time,” says Williamson.
United Way’s innovative pandemic initiatives—executed with help from numerous community partnerships—have helped a diverse range of community members, from hospitality and grocery workers to unemployed individuals, homebound older adults, children and parents, and communities of color. Standouts of note include the Hospitality Cares Pandemic Relief Fund, which provided $2.4M in emergency crisis grants and other aid to local hospitality workers, United for Early Care and Education, which helped to secure over $4M in public funding for child care providers, and BET Saving Our Selves, which distributed more than $2M in partner funding to address COVID-19’s disproportionate impacts on Black communities.
When the pandemic and hurricane season collided, United Way immediately began coordinating evacuee support and donation management for storm victims.
“To date, UWSELA has created over $600,000 in hurricane relief support to both the affected communities and the 7,000+ evacuees we served in Orleans and Jefferson parishes,” says Williamson.
At the beginning of the year, none of us were prepared for what we would confront. And no one knew how many in our community would need our help. Faced with a once-in-a-generation challenge, United Way stepped up. Join us in serving those who need it most. Give today for tomorrow at UnitedWaySELA.org.