Column

Arnold: Providing support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Heather Arnold
Heather Arnold

Last night, I chatted with my college roommates on a Zoom call. It felt so good to see their faces, to laugh with them, and to listen to the challenges they are facing. They live in California, which makes our physical visits few and far between in the 20 years since we’ve graduated and these calls are an absolute must.

We have a lot of things in common, like the fact that we are all parents, we all work at a job outside the home, we each struggle to find the balance of life and keep our sanity. Yet, we’ve got some differences too that make our conversations interesting. Take our jobs, for example. I’m working in nonprofit, one friend works for a large, well-known, worldwide corporation and the other works for a small, local, two-person business that is struggling to survive these last few months.

Just like everyone, we are making sense of a new normal and are learning to cope with our emotional ups and downs that the Coronavirus has brought. We’ve had family and friends who have tested positive, who have been extremely ill.

We each hold some fear and despair in our hearts and we have had to pivot (are we tired of that word yet?) in each of our job roles, getting creative while we parent children. We are getting through most days, some better than others, and count that as a win when we put our kids to bed safely at night, saying a prayer for their own health and well-being. However, it is not lost on any of us how lucky we are in spite of things.

Even though I find a lot of days lately pretty challenging, I am reminded of those who are less fortunate in my daily work for United Way. I hear about those who don’t have a support system of friends or family like I do, those who have lost their jobs, those who are unsure of where their child’s bed will be next month so they can tuck them in at night, one’s who have lost healthcare and who haven’t been able to bounce back after a bad day due to mental illness.

I’m extremely grateful and proud to share that once this pandemic hit our community, United Way of Greater McHenry County and The Community Foundation for McHenry County immediately recognized that working together to provide support for our community was important. We joined forces and started the McHenry County Community COVID-19 Response Fund. Together, we have been hard at work raising money for nonprofits in our community and deploying the funds to those agencies that are working on the frontlines of the epidemic. 

We received so many applications when we opened up the first round of funding and were thrilled to grant $250,000 to the following agencies in need:

• Mano a Mano Family Resource Center

• Housing Affordability Partners

• Turnstone Development Corp

• Home of the Sparrow

• Illinois Migrant Council

• Family Health Partnership

• Refuge for Women

• Thresholds

• Options and Advocacy for McHenry County

• Crystal Lake Food Pantry

• Service League of Crystal Lake

• Faith Acres Foundation

• Pioneer Center for Human Services

• Hearthstone Communities

• New Directions Addiction Recovery Services

• Turning Point

• Greater Elgin Family Care Center - McHenry Community Health Center

• Transitional Living Services (TLS) 

• Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness

• Senior Care Volunteer Network

We anticipate our next round of funding to be announced soon, opening up the application process again to any nonprofit in our county focusing on critical needs due to COVID-19. It is our hope to continue to support these organizations who are serving our county’s most vulnerable population over the next year.

If you are working with or know of a nonprofit who could benefit from extra funding during this time, let them know to be on the lookout for the application date or contact me so I can email them the information when the time comes. Also, if you are looking for a way to give back to our nonprofits and to help those who are working hard to support our people in need, consider a gift to the response fund. One hundred percent of donations received are granted. You can find more information, as well as donate at thecfmc.org.

Though we all can’t Zoom together and give each other some much needed support and laughter, I’ll continue to hold each person in our county close to my heart. I’ll say my prayers every night, as I tuck myself into bed, for your continued health and well-being, so we can come out of this as a stronger, more resilient McHenry County.

• For questions about United Way or to learn how to contribute, email Heather Arnold at harnold@uwmchenry.org.

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