United Way distributes grants to local organizations

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United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties launched the COVID-19 Recovery Fund in April 2020 to address the unmet needs of people and organizations economically impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

With donations from individuals, corporations and virtual fundraisers, United Way has distributed $70,000 to its partner organizations to aid in the community’s recovery from the pandemic, according to a press release.

The first $20,000 in donations to the United Way’s COVID-19 Recovery Fund were matched dollar for dollar by the Grunin Foundation and New Jersey Natural Gas, according to the press release.

“United Way’s strength lies in our ability to convene resources and bridge gaps for our partner organizations and the individuals they serve who will desperately need this help,” said Lori-Anne McLane, president and CEO of United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

“So many people have been economically impacted by this crisis and it’s hitting our low- to middle-income residents the hardest. We are working to ensure our community has the support it needs as we move through the pandemic together, and these grants are the first step in that process. After the disaster ends, United Way is there for the long road ahead,” McLane said.

A competitive mini-grant process was opened to United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties’ current partners, through which a total of 11 organizations were chosen to receive funds, according to the press release.

The first phase of grants totaling $45,000 for nine nonprofits will enable some to safely reopen and also help approximately 475 individuals who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 with their basic needs, according to the press release.

The recipients of the first phase of grants of $5,000 each are as follows: Affordable Housing Alliance, Mental Health Association of Monmouth County, Monmouth Day Care Center, O.C.E.A.N. Inc., Ocean County YMCA, Social Community Activities Network, St. Francis Community Center, Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey and YMCA of Greater Monmouth County.

Monmouth Day Care Center (MDCC) in Red Bank is one of the organizations awarded a grant for crucial items needed to reopen in compliance with New Jersey’s COVID-19 standards, according to the press release.

“A top priority at MDCC has always been the safety of our children, their families and our staff,” said Heidi Zaentz, executive director of Monmouth Day Care Center. “During this pandemic it has become even more important and United Way’s support made it possible for us to purchase much-needed supplies, including safety shields, personal protective equipment, disinfectants, and toys for individual children to use to avoid cross-contamination. We thank United Way for helping MDCC keep our families safe.”

A second phase of grants totaling $25,000 will be distributed to the Toms River Regional School District and NJ 211.

NJ211 is a health and human services hotline with resources for all residents of New Jersey, particularly those affected by COVID-19. A grant of $20,000 for NJ 211 will help expand the staff and resources to handle the increased call volume, according to the press release.

To date, NJ 211 has assisted more than 16,000 residents of Monmouth and Ocean counties with immediate needs during the crisis, according to the press release.