This March, call volume at the United Way’s 2-1-1 non-emergency helpline more than doubled. Calls for help have continued to grow dramatically this month, as families across Collier County are affected by COVID-19 and the pandemic’s economic impacts. Calls to 2-1-1 for assistance with medical bills, access to prescriptions medication, rent, and food are at an all-time high, including in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Many callers have never needed to seek assistance before.
United Way of Collier and the Keys has developed a web application to safely connect individuals and families seeking assistance with case managers who can help them obtain aid from multiple programs. Called the Remote Crisis Case Management (RCCM) system, the platform enables clients to apply for assistance from the safety of their homes, using mobile phones, tablets, or computers, and enables case managers to help them while working remotely, at a safe social distance.
Currently, the RCCM platform enables families in need to apply for assistance with rent and mortgage payments, utilities bills, grocery orders and connecting to food banks, medical bills, and prescription needs by connecting with case managers at the Salvation Army in Collier County and Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, Inc. in Monroe County. These offerings will be expanded to include additional services and organizations in the coming weeks.
The United Way of Collier and the Keys has established a Coronavirus Fund to help those in need during this crisis. Data from the RCCM platform and 2-1-1 helpline will help us quickly identify the greatest needs in Collier and Monroe Counties and distribute these funds where they can be most effective. Those who wish to LIVE UNITED and make a gift to the relief fund can visit the United Way of Collier and the Keys’ website (unitedwayofcolliercounty.org/community-coronavirus-fund/) to help their neighbors in need.
The ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained and Employed) families that United Way of Collier and the Keys works to help thrive have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. These households live paycheck-to-paycheck, with very little or no savings to help them deal with unexpected expenses or loss of income. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of these families have lost either a significant portion of their income, or all of it, and are being forced to make impossible choices.
For those ALICE workers that still have a job, most are employed by industries where social distancing or working from home are not possible. They are risking their lives every day they go to work to ensure that hospitals and nursing homes are staffed, grocery stores are open, and essential services are being delivered. Often, they are meeting this danger without the benefit of health insurance.
Responding to the tremendous need for assistance the pandemic has caused, Floridians and local businesses have generously given to charitable organizations in both Collier and Monroe Counties to help those in need. That help is not always easy for a family to access, however. Without the RCCM platform, a family might need to contact several organizations delivering aid and visit all of them in person to fill out applications before finding the resources they need. In this time of crisis, the safe and efficient process RCCM provides is vital.
About United Way of Collier and the Keys
The United Way of Collier and the Keys (“UWCK”) is committed to investing in and working to create communities where all individuals and families in Collier and Monroe Counties have an opportunity to thrive. We will accomplish this through improving education, economic stability and health, as well as providing access to food and safety net services. United Way plays a unique role in convening individual donors, businesses, nonprofits and government to work together to address community needs.