On March 11, 2020, local public health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in our region. On the same day, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.
On that day, everything changed.
But, it was in the weeks before that United Way East Ontario had gathered local public health authorities, frontline social services, representatives from labour leadership, municipalities and corporate partners from across East Ontario at the COVID-19 Community Response Table, to prepare for supporting the most vulnerable people once the virus inevitably arrived in our communities.
At the request of Ottawa Public Health, United Way’s first COVID-19 response back in February of 2020 involved getting masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to local volunteers in the Chinese community who were delivering food and necessities to self-isolating travelers.
United Way has supported our region through ice storms, floods, tornadoes, and the chronic challenges that demand our attention 365 days a year. We knew this spirit of volunteerism and generosity would be the guiding light through the months that followed.
What we quickly learned was that the pandemic would strain the social fabric of our communities and amplify every single social challenge people across Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew Counties were already facing. Issues like poverty, homelessness, social isolation, and mental health are not new, but COVID-19 has made them much worse.
More than one year later, United Way is embedded in a community-wide response to the pandemic that will not end any time soon.
We know the social effects of the pandemic will last long after the health risks have faded, and people still need us—and you. As we continue to address the social challenges of the pandemic, we’re reporting back on how we’ve made a measurable difference in our local communities.
United Way’s COVID-19 Response Impact Report highlights our accomplishments during the first year of the pandemic, thanks to our donors and partners. Take a look to see incredible highlights of community work, our call to government, and detailed breakdowns of our impact and its outcomes.