When we work together, great things get done. One beacon of light that supports some of the most active local charities is the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (UWMOC). Leading the charge is Lori-Anne McLane, president and CEO of UWMOC, and she recently shared with us some of the great things that the United Way is doing.
For those unfamiliar with United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, please describe what the organization does for the area and some of the charities that the United Way donates to.
McLane: United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (UWMOC) mobilizes donors, volunteers, and community partners to improve the lives of youth and their families. We work to ensure that every child is successful, every family is financially stable, and every community we serve is stronger. Our work in the community is centered around the focus areas of education, financial stability, and health -— the building blocks of a good quality of life.
UWMOC partners with a variety of organizations in each focus area to implement critical programs for our community. For example, in education we partnered with the Ocean County YMCA and YMCA of Greater Monmouth County to provide summer literacy programs to help ensure students are learning, engaged and healthy over the summer months. In financial stability, we work with eight partners that form the Financial Success Center Network, providing the tools and resources to help our residents move from financial difficulty to economic well-being. In health, we partner with the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey to provide school-based nurse practitioner services to local schools so that students can receive care regardless of their insurance status and stay in school.
How have things changed in 2020? How are things nowadays?
McLane: 2020 has proved to be a challenging year for everyone. Events that help fund the important work that we do have been postponed, and we’ve really had to change the way we operate in all aspects.
In April, UWMOC organized a COVID-19 Recovery Fund to address the unmet needs of people and organizations economically impacted by this crisis. Thanks to generous donations from individuals, corporations, and virtual fundraisers, United Way raised and distributed $70,000 to our partner organizations to aid in our community’s recovery. The first $20,000 in donations to the UWMOC COVID-19 Recovery Fund were graciously matched dollar for dollar by the Grunin Foundation and New Jersey Natural Gas. These funds enabled some organizations to safely reopen, and also helped individuals who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 with their basic needs.
While we’re doing all that we can to mitigate the immediate effects of the virus, we remain committed to helping rebuild our communities over the near and long term. UWMOC is rebuilding for better, more equitable and more resilient communities. Our goal is not to “return to normal.” We need to reimagine a new normal that equips our residents to weather inevitable future crises. United Way is unparalleled in our power to convene partners, providers, and resources to address the needs of our community. Together, we will overcome this health and economic crisis.
In what ways can the community help United Way?
McLane: Now, more than ever, United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties needs your support to do what we do best — help our community respond, recover, rebuild, and reimagine. Donations of any amount are always welcome by visiting our website at uwmoc.org/give.
We are hosting our annual Warmest Wishes donation drive for new children’s winter coats through the month of November. There are a variety of ways to participate and help keep local kids warm this winter. Visit uwmoc.org/WarmestWishes for more details.
UWMOC also has a volunteer portal that offers hundreds of opportunities, both virtual and in-person, to give back to our community and help those in need. Please visit uwmoc.org/volunteer to find an opportunity that’s right for you!