A MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT & CEO: GREG BURRIS
United Way of the Ozarks Donors and Supporters:
Well, I certainly didn’t expect this.
When I joined the United Way of the Ozarks team in August, I didn’t expect to be sending you an email instead of hosting our Annual Meeting celebration on this day.
I didn’t expect our team would be immersed in supporting our partner agencies and the broader community to respond to a pandemic, all while working remotely.
But here we are. And in lieu of meeting with you in person and celebrating your great work in our community at the Annual Meeting on this day, I want to provide you with three things. But before we do, I want to take this opportunity to thank Debi Meeds for her compassionate, driving leadership of this organization for the past five years. Debi not only made a difference in our community while in this role, she is still making a difference by leading the community’s disaster response/recovery efforts as chair of the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD). Thank you, Debi!
First, we want to provide the following link to a short video that thanks you and recognizes our award winners. I encourage you to watch this brief video and reach out to our award winners and congratulate them. I really wish they could hear our gratitude in our applause while meeting in person, but I’m sure they would appreciate an email or a call to tell them how much you appreciate what they are doing to “own” our community. Special thanks to Josh Beecher Photography for creating this video.
Second, we want to provide the following link to our Annual Report. I encourage you to take a few moments to read this document. A huge “Thank You” to Becky Garetson, a volunteer who did a majority of the work to design and create this document.
Third, we want to tell you about what your support has done in our community to support our partner agencies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak . . .
- Our nonprofit partners are getting squeezed from both sides – many are experiencing spikes in demands for services while being unable to host fundraisers and experiencing a decrease in funding to cover these costs. Please join me in our “Community Challenge” by donating to our Coronavirus Response Fund at uwozarks.org/covid19 100% of these funds will be used to support our nonprofit partners.
- In response, we are collaborating daily with our “Philanthropy Row” partners – Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) and Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) – to coordinate our community’s response to our friends and neighbors in need. One example of this collaboration is the Master Needs Inventory that you can access from uwozarks.org/covid19 (click “List of Immediate Needs”).
- At the request of the City of Springfield and Greene County officials, we worked with CPO and CFO to create the “Have Faith” Initiative. This group is being co-chaired by Rev. Mark Struckhoff and Rev. Bob Roberts. The initiative will engage the faith community to help address some of our community’s most critical needs.
- We are hosting weekly Zoom videoconference calls for our partner agency CEOs and senior-level staff. This is an opportunity to both share information with our partner agencies and to listen to them and discern their priority needs.
- We are working with Dan Prater, BKD, toward creating a series of short videos offering guidance to local nonprofit leaders addressing challenges they are currently experiencing, as well as a 90-minute webinar taking a deeper dive into some of these topics.
- We continue to stay in communication with various government, civic and community leaders.
- We continue to monitor the factors that could influence our Day of Caring event currently scheduled for June 11. The Day of Caring Planning Committee will meet again on April 14th and intends to make a decision at that time.
- And we’re trying to get creative. We learned the fastest way we could get access to hand sanitizer (requested by many of our partner agencies) was to purchase a 55-gallon drum of it. It was delivered to our parking lot on Monday, and yesterday we pumped out hand sanitizer into one-gallon jugs and gave them to our partner agencies at no cost. Just one more way we are trying to help.
And finally, I want to thank every member of the United Way of the Ozarks Board of Directors and staff. I am very proud of our team and the way they have stepped up during this crisis. Despite the chaos, they haven’t missed a beat in helping our agencies.
We look forward to seeing you on the other side of this pandemic. Our community’s response to COVID-19 is significant and resource-intensive, but our long-term recovery will likely require even more.
And we will be there . . . supporting our partner agencies and the broader community throughout our response and recovery. All of this is only possible because of your support.
President & CEO
United Way of the Ozarks