Bethany House is a local organization that provides emergency shelter to 1,200 people each year, including approximately 800 children. When it became clear COVID-19 was going to impact our community, the team at Bethany House quickly realized that the communal shelter that provides a temporary home, a nurturing environment, and basic resources for children, was suddenly no longer safe.
Within only a few days, all of the 40 families who were staying at Bethany House were moved to local hotel or extended stay rooms with separate spaces for each family. Each room also included access to small private kitchens for the meals that would normally be eaten in a community dining room.
“We knew we needed additional funding to move forward quickly and move our families to safe hotels,” says Susan Schiller, executive director of Bethany House Services. “The first thing I did was call United Way to ask for support and the impact of the additional funds we received was tremendous.”
Part of the Bethany House program includes case managers who help provide stability for the whole family while the adults work to build long-term self-sufficiency. The additional funding also helped provide food, sanitizers, and activities for kids.
The rapid financial support for Bethany House was activated by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and United Way of Greater Cincinnati. The fund has distributed more than $7 million into the community and has supported those in our communities who are most disproportionately affected by — and most vulnerable to — the health, economic, education, housing, and social impacts of the crisis.
“It’s amazing to see the community banding together to support each other and collaborate to bring new ways of working to life,” Schiller says. “COVID-19 has upended everything we do. Our families are relieved to be in hotels where they can feel safe. Had we not received this support, I’m not sure what we would have done.”
Since its launch, the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund has distributed directly to nonprofit organizations serving our region’s most vulnerable individuals and families affected by COVID-19. The fund is a cross-sector regional response to quickly address the critical needs of our community activated by Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) and United Way of Greater Cincinnati (UWGC).
Jennifer Riegert is the communications manager at the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Over the next few weeks, Soapbox will share work from community members and business owners regarding their thoughts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Have a story you’d like to share? Email [email protected] for consideration in an upcoming issue.