For the first time, United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA) will kick off its annual campaign on October 1 without the aid of a large fundraising event. In past years, UWNWLA would host the Annual Campaign Kickoff event as a rally to the start of the fundraising season.

“This year has been a huge struggle for so many in our community, and United Way is no exception, says Dr. Bruce Willson, president and CEO. “While fundraising and corporate giving for us is down, our work has never been more necessary.”

Even though this year has proven to be challenging, UWNWLA is optimistic that the community will come together to provide the resources that are important to so many throughout Northwest Louisiana. Corporate partners such as AEP SWEPCO, CenterPoint, IP Mansfield, Atmos Energy, and many more have already launched their annual fundraising activities. While this is exciting, other corporate partners will be unable to participate in the 2020 United Way Campaign due to layoffs, furloughed employees, economic instability, and more, making it difficult for United Way to reach this year’s $1.3 million fundraising goal.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted UWNWLA’s campaign model. “We’ve updated our website and created online resources to overcome the inability to hold face-to-face campaign events at workplaces,” says LaToria W. Thomas, vice president of resource development. “We find that it’s the personal connection with our donors that helps us fundraise for our internal programs and the dozens of community programs we support. Current restrictions will hinder us from making those connections.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, United Way did not close programs; it increased them. In March, Louisiana 211, health and human services hotline, expanded its calls and texting capabilities to respond to requests for assistance related to COVID-19. In April, United Way launched the United for NWLA Fund, an emergency assistance fund that has provided over $50,000 to individuals and families affected financially by the pandemic. In May, the Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) began welcoming new clients to provide one-to-one financial counseling services. To date, the FEC has helped clients reduce over $50,000 in debt. Over the past 6 months, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has increased the number of children enrolled in the program.

If your company wants to become a corporate partner, contact LaToria Thomas at (318)606-6589.

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