United Way of Central Massachusetts pledges $100,000 to help Afghan refugees



Worcester, Mass. — The Board of Directors of the United Way of CentralMassachusetts approved by unanimous vote $100,000 to seed a fund to welcomeand respond to the needs of Refugees from Afghanistan who come to central Massachusetts and Worcester.

The United Way of Central Massachusetts has a history of helping those most in need during challenging times. In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria struck and devastated Puerto Rico. With Worcester being home for many families from Puerto Rico, UWCM surmised that many from Puerto Rico would come to the City. The United Way organized and planned a coordinated welcome and secured funding for a coordinator of services position to help with those relocating to the Worcester area. The coordinator was hired by the United Way and worked under the direction of the Worcester Department of Health and Human Services and weekly meetings were held with the City to review work and plan for the coming weeks of work.

In March of 2020, when COVID arrived, the same process-model of Worcester’s Hurricane Maria response was used, and the Worcester Together Response Team was created to assist with pandemic relief. That effort has continued its work for more than 76 weeks; the fundraising arm – the Worcester Together Fund – raised and invested close to $11 million dollars in our community in response to COVID. This was an innovative, joint effort in which the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way raised and distributed funds together.

Today, our Nation faces another humanitarian need; the need to welcome Refugees from Afghanistan. Tim Garvin, President and CEO of the United Way, had this to say about the initiative: “The United Way is poised to once again answer the call for action. We will be there to coordinate the sharing of information and ascertain the level of need, to compile the expected resources needed (including health and mental health support), to list where those resources are available, and to figure out what gaps exist.”

Naomi Sleeper, United Way’s Board Chair, added “We are 100% behind this effort. What an honor for our United Way to support this need, and how wonderful to influence others to do the same.”

The United Way can support this effort because of the generosity of their many individual and corporate donors and the incredible gift that UWCM received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The United Way is also working to confirm additional funds for this effort. Outreach is already underway to other philanthropic organizations who have shown an interest in supporting this important humanitarian effort.

About United Way of Central Massachusetts

United Way of Central Massachusetts connects people and resources to improve the community. We do this by partnering with agencies and organizations, and supporting initiatives aligned on four strategic areas—safety net, education, family stability, and health. Programs focus on taking care of immediate needs and providing the impetus for lasting, positive change within the 30 towns of its service area.

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