[title subtitle=”WORDS Catherine Frederick with Eddie Lee Herndon, President and CEO United Way of Fort Smith Area”][/title]
United Way of Fort Smith Area has provided change in our area. They mobilize our community in ways that no single agency, individual, or government can to enhance the ability of people to care for one another. United Way addresses the needs important to people who live and work in Crawford, Franklin, LeFlore, Logan, Sebastian and Sequoyah counties. Do South reached out to Eddie Lee Herndon, to learn more.
DS: How is the United Way of Fort Smith Area assisting our community during the COVID-19 pandemic?
We convened a group of philanthropic and business partners to form a COVID-19 Community Response Fund, to rapidly deploy resources to local agencies and organizations. The fund will assist agencies and organizations in providing individuals and families impacted by this pandemic assistance to stay in their homes and keep food on the table. We will work to get these dollars into our area quickly, funding nonprofit partners and service providers working directly with those impacted.
DS: What is the greatest hurdle United Way of Fort Smith Area faces rising from COVID-19?
Because of COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions, our fall fundraising campaign may look very different this year. In addition to restrictions, some of the employees who were once donors in our company payroll deduction campaigns have been laid-off or furloughed. It is critical that we prepare for, respond to, and ultimately help our communities emerge stronger. To do so, financial support from the community will be critical in our ability to continue support for programs and agencies that are funded by United Way.
DS: For members of our community who would like to volunteer or make a financial donation, what is the best way to do so?
Due to social distancing, volunteer opportunities have changed. Call our Community Initiatives Coordinator, Carrie Terry, for available opportunities. For donations, we have a text-to-give option; text “response” to 91999 or give online at unitedwayfortsmith.org, or simply mail a check and list COVID-19 in the memo line.
DS: In what ways does United Way support our communities?
For ninety-two years we have connected the River Valley with resources in the areas of Health, Education, Financial Stability and Crisis Support Services, including disaster response for events such as Hurricane Katrina, the 2019 Flood and COVID-19. We are also the local affiliate for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program that provides an age appropriate book to children birth to age five. FamilyWize, a prescription discount card, saved area residents $353,000 in 2019 on their prescription medicines.
DS: Are there any upcoming events that our readers should know about?
We plan to continue with Fill the Bus at the end of July but are uncertain of the details. Each year we collect over fifty thousand packages of school supplies to ensure local children have the supplies they need. The United Way Classic, presented by Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland, has been rescheduled for August 3rd-8th, at Hardscrabble Country Club. Follow us on social media and our website for updates!
120 North 13th Street
Fort Smith, AR 72901