On April 13th, Mike Apfelberg, the CEO of the United Way of Greater Nashua, addressed the Rotary Club of Nashua regarding helping our community respond to Covid-19. Mike is very active in the community, and right now is focusing extra attention on helping our community respond to Covid-19. Crises like these are in UW's DNA - it was actually founded in response to the Crown Hill fire, so this type of response is second nature.
The United Way's initial focus was on food support.
First, they worked with the school department to ensure that students who normally received lunch (and often breakfast as well) at school could still receive that support. This program now also includes the Boys & Girls Club. The UW has about 125 people who, three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), are handing out food at various schools, with additional frozen meals and fresh produce on Fridays thanks to the Nashua Soup Kitchen. The M/W days include supplies for 2 meals, and the Friday one has three meals, to ensure that no days are without food. The transit system has also gotten involved, adding 4 special food drop-off routes for those families who weren't being covered well by the school locations. To date, they've delivered over 20,000 meals.
Beyond that, they branched out with a produce program about a week ago, in partnership with the YMCA and the Nashua Soup Kitchen. They have 8 locations around the city where anyone can come by to pick up fresh produce, with over 175 families helped to date.
UW also does home deliveries of food, for those who can't get to either a school or bus location because they are quarantined. Volunteers pick up the food at the various locations and deliver them to the home on behalf of the family. Partnering with the UW on this is the Corpus Christi Food pantry.
Shop United is an on-line system, where someone can go on-line, select the market they wish to purchase from, select their food, and then pay on line with the purchase of Supermarket Gift Cards. Importantly, this program includes special provisions for those who are receiving public assistance, with a waiver from the state allowing the volunteer to use the person's EBT card for payment. Within 48 hours (usually it's in 24), a UW volunteer will do the shopping using the Gift Cards/EBT cards, and deliver the groceries to the home. If someone needing service doesn't have access to a computer, Mike and his staff will walk through the order on the phone as well.
The UW is also focused on strengthening their ability to serve as a hub for Covid-19 information and resources for the community. Donated supplies can be dropped off at their location on Broad Street for distribution to those in need (Mike promises that this warehouse-like work doesn't infringe on Brian and Jack Law's operations!); volunteer coordination (those who want to volunteer and those who need volunteers); publishing accurate fact sheets and contact information to key partners locally, state-wide and nationally.
An Emergency Relief Fund has been established, which has allowed the UW to make 32 grants to local agencies to date, to do bulk purchasing for things not normally part of an agency's budget (for example, thermometers), and other covid-19 related services. They recently received a $25,000 matching grant, so any donations now to that Emergency Relief Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Mike is very encouraged by our community's response to this crisis and the level of support he's seeing.
President Mike thanked Mike for his presentation and for all that the UW is doing.