When “stay-at-home” orders were issued at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew there would be an economic crisis, as well as a health crisis. With restaurants, entertainment venues, retail, and the travel industry shut down, many people lost jobs or wages overnight.
Many workers in the most affected industries were low-wage earners, living paycheck to paycheck with no savings. These are the hard-working people United Way of Western Connecticut has been serving for the past five years, called ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).
United Way worked quickly in the first days of the pandemic to establish the ALICE Emergency Fund. It was created to help people in the 15 cities and towns we serve in Western Connecticut, including greater Danbury, greater New Milford and Stamford.
By talking with social service providers and with ALICE themselves, we knew the greatest need would be for assistance with food, utilities, gas, and medicine.
We immediately made $20 of free, fresh produce available each week to participants in our Healthy Savings program, and we expanded the number of households in the program to 500. Participants also receive up to $50 or more in discounts on other healthy food items.
A Stamford beneficiary of Healthy Savings expresses her gratitude:
“I really appreciated your generous help in this so difficult time. I could easily get a lot of vegetables so recommended during this pandemic. My family joins me in expressing my sincere thanks. Thank you from the bottom of the heart!”
We also created an innovative system that allows people in need to download funds to mobile wallets in their smartphones. To date, 275 households across the region have received $200 to pay for food and other necessities.
A beneficiary from Newtown, who is the oldest daughter in an extended family says:
“United Way, thank you so much! This has been such a hard time for me and my family, and asking for help is always tough. This money will help feed my family for weeks and [supplement] my mother’s unemployment. In times like these it’s so nice to know people care.”
All donations to the ALICE Emergency Fund go directly to the people in need. United Way of Western Connecticut is taking no administrative fees for the operation of this fund.
Donations to the ALICE Emergency Fund benefit residents of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Stamford, Warren, and Washington.
Donate to the ALICE Emergency Fund here, on our website at uwwesternct.org/aliceemergencyfund or text WCTCOVID19 to 71777.