“Resilient,” “strong” and “compassionate” are three words Meghan Barp, president and CEO of United Way of Greenville County, would use to describe the Greenville County community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In early March, as news of the novel coronavirus and its potential impact began to take shape, many in our community were hard at work behind the scenes listening, asking questions and making preparations to continue to serve Greenville County’s most vulnerable neighbors in the event of a pandemic-related shutdown. The virus and its aftereffects would be another source of stress on already vulnerable members of the community, given that there are many in the area who live in or near poverty, often lacking disposable income and unable to afford a day without pay.
When it was announced that schools in Greenville County would close and shift students to eLearning at home, plans were quickly put in place to ensure children would continue to receive breakfast and lunch through the duration of the closure. Since then, tens of thousands of meals have been served across 85 drive-thru sites in Greenville County, with additional food distribution areas added to make sure no one in need goes hungry.
As businesses were being forced to shutter for the safety of the community, and many found themselves without a paycheck, United Way of Greenville County quickly enacted its 24/7 211 information hotline, providing callers with resources to find food, shelter and access to critical health care and transportation.
“The community’s rallying response to this crisis has been nothing short of amazing.”
— Meghan Barp, United Way of Greenville County president & CEO
Thousands of calls have come through since the hotline expanded, providing a quick connection point for many who found themselves at risk of not being able to pay their bills or put food on the table.
As the pandemic accelerated in Greenville County, United Way and a collection of local foundations launched the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund. With the generosity of hundreds of individuals and corporate partners, the fund raised more than $800,000 in its first four weeks to help address the community’s most critical needs.
Meanwhile, United Way dispersed more than $300,000 in grants by mid-April to local service organizations focused on providing food and housing for children and families in areas with vulnerable populations.
“Even as the news of COVID-19 was unfolding all around us, organizations were getting in gear, people were stepping up to volunteer and donate, resources were being gathered for quick deployment — the community’s rallying response to this crisis has been nothing short of amazing,” said Barp. “While we may not know how long the impact of the pandemic will be felt in our area, what we do know is the community will continue to work together to help those most affected come through stronger than before. We are Stronger United.”
The COVID-19 Community Relief Fund continues to provide support to those in Greenville who need it most, focusing on food and housing first to ensure those critical needs are met. Donations to support the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund can be made securely online at unitedwaygc.org/response, with 100 percent of the dollars raised supporting local relief efforts.