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Especially now, help is needed

According to research conducted by the Ohio United Way, 42 percent of the households in Trumbull County are either living in poverty or are considered the working poor.

Even before the pandemic hit, these Trumbull County households were led by workers unable to earn enough to cover basic expenses and save for an unexpected crisis or job loss. For many, the economic crisis has stripped available assets and abruptly forced families into unfamiliar financial positions.

Most of our local nonprofits are bracing for a surge in demand after the first of the year when unemployment and additional benefits for many individuals and families will have expired at the end of December. According to Nancy Voitus, executive director of Catholic Charities Regional Agency, the challenges will be mortgages, rent and utilities due to the loss of income or reduction in income. For our senior citizens, the effects of having to be isolated and the need for home food delivery are and will be critically important.

Beyond the basic needs is concern for our children. The availability (or lack of) child care is placing a financial burden on families. And educationally, one of the greatest challenges is going to be to make sure students don’t fall behind. Programs that deliver services to students — typically virtually in these days — like Inspiring Minds, Boy Scouts and Potential Development all express concern about the effects of the pandemic on long-term academic success. According to Paul Garchar, director of Potential Development, “There are going to be long-term implications for children missing huge amounts of education and the socialization that goes along with it.” He adds this is especially challenging for families with children who have special needs. With parents perhaps out of work and children trying to learn from home, this kind of pressure can take its toll on a family and lead to many negative ways of dealing with stress: increased alcohol and / or drug abuse and domestic violence.

A recent survey of more than 3,000 Trumbull County residents conducted by United Way of Trumbull County showed the greatest need is to address housing insecurity, mental health issues and food. But clearly there are a wide array of services that are and will continue to be needed by individuals and families. Services and programs that can be delivered by our local nonprofit providers — but not without your help. While nearly all agencies have taken measures to reduce their operating budgets and streamline delivery, the fact remains that the demands for programs during the pandemic have placed a strain on their budgets. And, the pandemic has interrupted the ability to reach donors through events and face-to-face interactions. Nonprofit agencies rely on the generosity of our local donors, government support and importantly, the United Way. And these agencies and those they serve need the United Way now more than ever to continue to deliver services to those who are most vulnerable.

For more than 97 years, the United Way of Trumbull County has helped our partner agencies sustain programming that has become even more critically important. As a community, we all need to make sure these agencies have the financial resources they need. The United Way of Trumbull County is committed to supporting programs that help those who need it the most. We have a unique understanding of the community as a whole so, when you support the United Way, you can be assured that your dollars are being put to the best possible use to help people right here in Trumbull County. But we need your support to make this possible.

There are many ways you can give to the United Way of Trumbull County: through your workplace, by going to the United Way of Trumbull County website and clicking on the donate button, by sending a check in the mail, or by texting TRUMBULL to 41444.

Trumbull County has always stepped up to help those in need and so many are counting on you now. Please help us help our neighbors in need.

Ginny Pasha is president of the United Way of Trumbull County.

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