United Way of Southwest Wyoming (UWSW) raised $56,157 for its COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to help community members in Fremont, Lincoln, Sweetwater and Uinta Counties. All funds raised and allocated for Lincoln, Sublette and Sweetwater Counties has been exhausted with minimal amounts still available for Fremont and Uinta Counties. Donors include: Bayer, $500; Dominion Energy, $16,000; Genesis Alkali, $2,500; Rocky Mountain Bank, $250; Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. $6,250; Wells Fargo, $20,000; Wyoming Community Foundation, $8,000 and individuals.
UWSW’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund was created to support southwest Wyoming communities struggling in the wake of the new virus, by supporting local community resources.
“Over the past six months, UWSW has awarded grants to local community organizations to help provide additional resources for community members as well as to continue providing their normal services,” said Kelly Frink, Executive Director, UWSW. “We have also been able to directly help individuals who have experienced a reduction in hours or job loss because of the pandemic.”
In Sweetwater County, direct assistance was provided to 48 households primarily for rental and utility assistance. In addition, $1,000 was awarded to Boys & Girls Club of Sweetwater County to help provide community meals and $1,500 was awarded to Youth Alternative Home Association (YAHA) to continue serving Sweetwater County youth.
In Uinta County, Sexual Assault and Family Violence (SAFV) and Youth Alternative Home Association (YAHA) each received a $2,000 grant. SAFV needed to shelter more victims in hotels due to social distancing restrictions.
“We suddenly needed to staff the facility 24/7 and provide adaptive learning at the shelter. This was an increased cost to staffing, food and supplies,” said D’Andrea Chichester, Executive Director, YAHA.
Lincoln Self Reliance (LSR) received two grants, $1,500 for Uinta County and $6,500 for Lincoln County. LSR had to purchase large amounts of personal protective equipment, body thermometers and hand sanitizer.
“LSR had costs that were not budgeted for. This fund helped them continue to provide safe services for their clients and residents,” said Frink.
Over 5,200 diapers and wipes were sent to Afton Food Pantry in Lincoln County to help local families.
In Sublette County, 4,092 diapers and 4,608 wipes were shipped for distribution to the Hope Choice Pregnancy Center for families in need. In addition, a $3,000 grant was awarded to the Big Piney Community Food Closet to repair their freezer and purchase food.
In Fremont County, direct assistance was provided to 22 households for rental and utility expenses. A majority of these households had a family member who was unable to work due to temporary business closures. In addition, UWSW partnered with First Stop Help in Lander, Wyoming to distribute 11,000 diapers and wipes to families in need.
“Unfortunately, most of the funds from the Response and Recovery Fund have all been used, and we continue to get requests for assistance. Requests are from people who have had to quarantine and miss work, from those who have been laid off and unable to find work and some who are still working but have had a reduction in hours,” said Frink.
UWSW is still accepting donations for this fund and will distribute funds as they are received. To donate to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund visit www.swunitedway.org/response-and-recovery-fund, mail a check to United Way of Southwest Wyoming, 510 South Main Street, Rock Springs, WY 82901 or call 307-362-5003.