Grant and Masks to Help Residents Affected by Covid Pandemic Fallout
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County (UWCFC) has awarded the Town of Easton a grant to support residents impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, along with a supply of gift cards and KN95 protective face masks. Presentation was made to First Selectman David Bindelglass and Alison Witherbee, Director of Human Services.
The Covid Relief Grant will provide emergency assistance for food, rent, utilities and critical bills to help keep families in stable homes. This is the third round of grants from United Way to aid those affected by the pandemic in Fairfield County.
“I am grateful for the United Way’s ongoing support,” Witherbee said. “With the pandemic and the rising costs of food and utilities, the grant will help Easton families in need. Primarily, it will help with a delivery of home heating oil, so families can stay warm during these cold months. And the gift cards will help address the continuing issue of food insecurity.”
The donated face masks were given to the public during a recent distribution of home Covid-19 test kits. “I’m so pleased we could provide KN95 medical grade masks, which–according to the CDC–provide better protection against the contagious Omicron variant,” Witherbee said. Besides helping to stem the spread of the coronavirus, masks can be an important support for families whose budgets are strained by this additional cost.
UWCFC’s CEO Jeff Kimball noted, “Our neighbors need our help, and many of them are seeking help for the first time in their lives. We’re honored to work with the Town of Easton to bring help and hope to those who are struggling.”
The grant of $2,000 was presented by Kimball and Easton resident Sarah Lehberger, who also works for the local non-profit. It follows a previous Covid Relief Grant and electronic gift cards to meet residents’ immediate needs. With this donation, United Way has provided 800 facemasks for community use.
Even before the pandemic, one out of five Easton residents struggled to make ends meet. The pandemic and the rising cost of living have exacerbated the situation. This surging need is reflected in the increased calls to United Way’s 2-1-1 Infoline. In the past year, Easton residents’ requests for help have tripled; since the beginning of the pandemic, requests increased over 500%.
Witherbee encourages Easton residents in need to contact 2-1-1, or to reach to her at Easton Social Services Department, 203-268-1137.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, UWCFC has made investments in every one of the 12 towns in its service area, offering:
- Supports for Basic Needs: Approximately $216,000 in grants to support towns and community partners providing for basic needs like food, rent, and utilities. Also, over 3,000 freshly-made lunches were delivered to hungry neighbors in 3 towns, through a partnership with Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company.
- Direct Help to Families: Over $89,000 in electronic gift cards to families in need, distributed by towns and local social service agencies.
- Protective Equipment: Over 140,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, including protective masks, gloves, and face shields to help neighbors including frontline workers, teachers, and families, thanks to donor partners like Bank of America and Yale New Haven Health.
- Virtual Learning Support: For remote learners in Kindergarten to 12th grade, UWCFC has provided online tutoring, STEM learning programs, and college financial aid workshops. During summer, United Way supported enriched learning in robotics, engineering, e-sports, leadership skills, and college preparation. These innovative offerings were made by the Greater Bridgeport STEM Learning Ecosystem, an initiative of the United Way’s flagship collective impact movement, Bridgeport Prospers.
- Connections to Resources: Through the 2-1-1 Infoline, United Way fielded over 123,000 service requests from Fairfield County residents in the past two years.
These supports were made possible through grants, partnerships, local fundraising, and state-wide relief efforts.
“Throughout the pandemic, our United Way has worked innovatively and tirelessly to ease the burden shouldered by our neighbors,” Kimball said. Together with our partners, we will overcome this crisis and keep building more equitable and resilient communities — where all our neighbors have the opportunity to thrive.”
United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s mission statement is: “Together, we empower people to improve their lives. We do this by working innovatively with partners to tackle the most pressing issues in a community. Our vision is that all children and families will thrive in school and life. UWCFC serves the towns of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton. Visit https://unitedwaycfc.org/ to find out more.