BY GINNY PASHA
President, United Way of Trumbull
At this time last year, it was hard to imagine the challenges that 2020 would bring. United Way of Trumbull County immediately stepped into action to help our community through one of the most difficult years in recent history.
One of the first steps we took was to conduct a series of surveys to determine the most pressing needs. Food and housing insecurity topped the list. Subsequent surveys revealed that mental health issues arising from social isolation and uncertainty were a growing concern.
The Trumbull County community was generous and we immediately began receiving funding designated specifically to COVID relief. Using United Way’s agency impact process, we quickly opened applications for agencies to apply for COVID funding.
We also partnered with the Raymond John Wean Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation, and the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley to amplify our impact.
When masks were not readily available, at the request of the Trumbull County Health Department, our United Way chapter coordinated with local volunteers who made over 1,500 masks that we distributed to seniors, children and essential workers.
We conducted diaper drives and school supply drives. Through a partnership with Macy’s, we provided over $10,000 in clothing to the Community Volunteer Council to distribute to local families in need. And we procured and shared with our partner agencies 288 gallons of hand sanitizer.
To show appreciation to essential workers and individuals making a difference, we awarded gifts, purchased from local entrepreneurs, that were meant to represent “thankful acts of kindness.” People awarded included health care professionals, grocery store employees, janitors, teachers, nonprofit volunteers and employees, firefighters, direct support professionals and students.
Through the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, we provided 2,729 infants, toddlers, and pre-school children with a monthly book.
Combined with our “Reading Great by 8 Early Literacy” initiative, school pantries, backpacks and school supplies, the Imagination Library helps us improve the lives of children.
Work also began on the Born Learning Trail in Perkins Park, a series of 10 interactive signs that offer fun, active learning activities for young children and their families. Four additional signs will be installed this year to promote healthful habits and help prevent diseases such as diabetes.
According to the Trumbull County Combined Health District, our community has a high incidence of diabetes. For this reason, Women United of Trumbull County raised awareness about the disease and provided nearly 200 prescriptions for insulin to individuals, mostly underinsured seniors.
Also in 2020, we introduced two “spokeskids” to advocate on our behalf while being provided learning and mentoring opportunities. Bailey Tolios and Cadence Treich were selected after auditions were held. They have since volunteered at local partner agencies, provided videos and photos in support of United Way, and conducted interviews on our behalf.
A new video series, Let’s Talk Trumbull, was introduced in 2020 beginning with an update to the community in lieu of our annual meeting.
In this series we plan to interview partner agency directors, philanthropists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and people making a difference in Trumbull County. One of our first videos highlighted TEMA Roofing, which helped us launch Small Business United to make it easier for businesses to give back to their community.
We will continue to be here for our community, as we have been since 1923. But look for us to be more nimble, more responsive, and even more focused on being united.