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COVID-19: Looking Back, Racing Forward

Mar 23, 2021 | Blog

Roughly one year after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, we look back to when we realized life as we knew it was fundamentally altered from how it had been a month, a week, and even a day earlier. We also celebrate exactly how our community showed up to support one another in our time of need.





United Way of Broome County and the 211 Susquehanna River Region launched a COVID-19 Response Volunteer Effort. Together, we monitored our community’s needs and led the county’s efforts to organize volunteers and coordinate volunteer opportunities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the most timely and safe manner possible.

GIVE HELP. Due to our community’s changes, volunteers were needed to assist individuals and organizations—those interested connected with us and were immediately deployed out to support those in need.

GET HELP. Individuals and organizations needed assistance. By dialing 211, individuals and organizations were connected to willing volunteers ready to assist.

Between March 20, 2020, and June 15, 2020, 170 volunteers matched to neighbors and organizations in need. 388 individuals and organizations had their needs met by volunteers. 1,488 hours of volunteer work was given, at over $43,000 of time donated, based on valuation determined by Independent Sector.




Mask distribution was a massive piece of United Way of Broome County’s effort to aid the community throughout COVID-19. When masks became mandated, many people were unsure of where or how to get them. Demand was high; supply was low. Through the Give Help. Get Help. Volunteer Initiative, countless generous donations, and in partnership with the Broome County Executive Office, 9,050 masks were distributed to organizations and individuals and continue to be today.




When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we knew we had to advocate for the most vulnerable in our area. In partnership with local foundations, we immediately established the COVID-19 Community Response Fund Alliance to deploy emergency resources to 501(c)3 agencies that were addressing the emergency needs of our neighbors.

Led by United Way of Broome County, The Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation, the Community Foundation for South Central New York, The Dr. G. Clifford and Florence B. Decker Foundation, The Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation, the George A. and Margaret Mee Charitable Foundation and the Roger Kresge Foundation, The COVID-19 Community Response Fund Alliance was a coalition of philanthropy partners who joined together to provide flexible resources to community-based organizations on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in the Broome County.

Grants were rapidly deployed to frontline human services organizations working within our local community who were most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the outbreak’s economic consequences.

Thanks to the contributions of corporate and philanthropic partners, as well as hundreds of community donors, the Fund deployed $387,563 to over 46 organizations throughout Broome County, which has helped thousands of local neighbors in need.



The Lee Barta Community Center’s programming serves individuals and families on Binghamton’s North and East Sides. Now in a completely virtual setting, the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition staff can reach an even wider audience on their Facebook page. This educational programming features healthy cooking, storytime, and so much more!

In addition to the virtual programming, the Lee Barta Community Center also hosts a weekly food pantry. The staff have developed a safe system to continue serving the community surrounding the center by creating a touchless system. When a community member gets to the center, they simply communicate to the staff through a phone call, and their items are placed outside the door!



As days go on, we steadily become more hopeful that we will see a “normal” life in the coming future. As we continue to adapt to our new ways of life, we look to the future and the continued amazing work done in partnership with individuals, agencies, businesses, and philanthropists across our community.

211 Susquehanna River Region continues to be a crucial resource for all things COVID-19 related and beyond. From scheduling testing appointments to helping people get access to food and shelter. Since the onset of the pandemic, the 211 Contact Center has taken 62,941 requests. 211 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in 180 languages. Call 211 for information and referral assistance.


United Way of Broome County has been working with community-based organizations across the county to launch the VOLUNTEER HQ Digital Platform. Recognizing the increasing number of people who were looking to volunteer during the onset of COVID-19, United Way of Broome County streamlined the launch of the Volunteer HQ. This virtual platform matches local agencies with eager volunteers. To begin matching with organizations, visit uwbroomvolunteers.org to create a volunteer profile and learn how you can give your time and talents back to the community.


Around the world, there was still so much unknown about the coronavirus and so much uncertainty about how life would look moving forward. Still, we are grateful to the dedicated volunteers, partnerships, advancements, and creative solutions our community has attained over the past year. We look to a bright rest of 2021!

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