United Way grant to help Monroe residents hit hard by COVID-19

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Eric Stone with, from left, Mark Barnhart, First Selectman Ken Kellogg and former first selectman Steve Vavrek at the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County's COVID relief check presentation to the town. Stone, Barnhart and Vavrek live in Monroe and serve on the nonprofit's board of directors.

MONROE, CT — The United Way of Coastal Fairfield County awarded the town of Monroe a $4,000 grant to support residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The check was presented to First Selectman Ken Kellogg on Wednesday.

“I am so grateful to the United Way for their incredible support of our community, especially during this pandemic,” said Kellogg. “These funds will provide critical, need-based relief to some of our most vulnerable residents who are struggling financially as a result of COVID.”

The award was presented by three long-time Monroe residents who serve on the non-profit’s board of directors, Steve Vavrek, Eric Stone and Mark Barnhart.

The COVID Relief Grant provides emergency assistance for food, rent, utilities and critical bills to help keep families in stable homes. This is the second round of grants awarded by United Way to support those impacted by the pandemic.

“Our neighbors need our help, and many of them are seeking help for the first time in their lives,” Steve Vavrek said. “We’re honored to work with the town of Monroe to bring help and hope to those who are suffering.”

Before the pandemic, more than one out of four Monroe families struggled to make ends meet. Now families are challenged by the loss of income due to reduced hours or shuttered businesses. In the past year, Monroe residents’ requests for help to United Way’s 2-1-1 Infoline more than doubled.

“We’re committed to helping our town meet the growing need,” Barnhart said. “This is the third investment we’ve made during the pandemic.”

Eric Stone with, from left, Mark Barnhart, First Selectman Ken Kellogg and former first selectman Steve Vavrek at the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s COVID relief check presentation to the town. Stone, Barnhart and Vavrek live in Monroe and serve on the nonprofit’s board of directors.

This current award of $4,000 is the second grant to the town of Monroe. United Way also provided town social services with electronic gift cards to meet immediate family needs. Support to date totals $14,000.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County (UWCFC) has made investments in every one of the 12 towns in its service area, offering:

  • Grants for basic needs: Approximately $150,000 in grants to support towns and community partners providing for basic needs like food, rent, and utilities.
  • 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: Tens of thousands of protective masks, gloves, and face shields to help neighbors ranging from frontline health workers to teachers and families, thanks to corporate donors and healthcare partners and like Bank of America and Yale New Haven Health.
  • Virtual Learning Support: For remote learners in Kindergarten to 12th grade, UWCFC has provided a virtual tutoring program, a STEM enrichment workshop, and camps in robotics and engineering.  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.
  • Freshly made lunches: Over 3,000 lunches delivered to hungry neighbors in 3 towns, through a partnership with Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company.
  • Connections to Resources: Through the 2-1-1 Infoline, United Way has fielded over 86,0000 service requests from Fairfield County residents in the past twelve months.

These supports were made possible through grants, partnerships, local fundraising, and state-wide relief efforts.

The town of Monroe has received a total of $14,000 of grants and donations from the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.

“Throughout the pandemic, our United Way has worked innovatively and tirelessly to ease the burden shouldered by our neighbors,” said Eric Stone, a United Way board member. “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.”

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