United Way provides masks, funds for Monroe amid pandemic

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The town of Monroe receives a United Way COVID Relief Grant from United Way board member Eric Stone, left. Accepting it is First Selectman Ken Kellogg, center, and Kim Cassia, director of Community and Social Services.

MONROE, CT —  The United Way of Coastal Fairfield County has awarded the town of Monroe a grant to support residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, along with a supply of KN95 protective face masks.

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

On Wednesday, a presentation was made to Kellogg and Kim Cassia, director of Community and Social Services. Representing the local United Way was Eric Stone, a long-time Monroe resident who serves on the nonprofit’s board of directors.

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

The goal of the KN95 mask donation is to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, especially the contagious Omicron variant. Masks can be an important support for seniors, the immune-compromised and public-serving employees.

“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 Monroe—my hometown–to bring help and hope to those who are struggling.”

Kim Cassia reflected, “During the pandemic, many residents suffered wage or job loss and are trying to catch up. The rising prices on basic goods have made that more difficult.  We plan to use the United Way grant for help with utilities—to help keep vulnerable residents in warm, well-lit homes.”

“Even before the pandemic, one out of four Monroe families struggled to make ends meet,” Stone said. “The pandemic and the rising cost of living have worsened the situation. This surging need is reflected in the increased calls to United Way’s 2-1-1 HelpLine. Last year, town residents’ requests for help doubled; overall, requests have tripled since the beginning of the pandemic.”

The current grant of $2,000 follows an earlier COVID relief grant, electronic gift cards for town residents in need, and an emergency response grant for the Monroe Food Pantry and Project Warmth. As of Wednesday, the United Way has donated 8,000 protective face masks to the town for resident use.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County (UWCFC) has made investments in every one of the 12 towns it serves, 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, 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 statewide relief efforts.

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

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