COVID-19 response


When COVID-19 reached the Ozarks in March 2020, we knew that our local nonprofits would be needed more than ever before. With the demand for services increasing and fundraising efforts decreasing because of safety precautions, United Way of the Ozarks dropped everything to connect with our donors and the community at large to help us keep nonprofit operations running safely. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve emphasized safety while working to keep our community connected, as unprecedented times bring unprecedented needs. Although things look different, our mission remains the same: to improve lives in the Ozarks by raising and uniting support around our communities’ critical needs. 

When we asked our partners how we could support them, many of them told us that their finances would be stretched to the limit. Major fundraising events had to be cancelled due to mandatory lockdown, and the need for services was greater than ever. Our partners expressed concerns about funding shortfalls and the need for food, shelter, and other necessary supplies that came with facing the coronavirus pandemic. In order to coordinate our community’s nonprofit response for enduring this crisis, United Way of the Ozarks worked with CPO and CFO to create the Immediate Nonprofit Agency Needs List to support our community’s response to our friends and neighbors in need. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have:

Collaborated with other philanthropic leaders: We work in close coordination with Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) and Community Partnership of the Ozarks (CPO) to orchestrate support for our local and regional nonprofits. Collectively known as “Philanthropy Row," our three organizations talk and coordinate regularly to climate duplication and ensure we are addressing critical needs in the most generous and efficient way possible. See List of immediate needs.

Helped unite the faith community. City of Springfield and Greene County leaders asked Philanthropy Row to help organize and lead our faith community’s response to COVID-19. With more than 100 faith leaders, we serve as the convener and host weekly Zoom meetings with leaders from over 80 congregations and faith traditions. This group is co-chaired by Rev. Mark Struckhoff and Rev. Bob Roberts. In August, Rev. Mark Struckhoff accepted a position with Council of Churches at the state level, and Pastor Jenn Simmons took over.  The initiative has engaged the faith community to help address some of our community’s most critical needs. Learn more about the Have Faith Initiative here.

Hosted regular Zoom meetings for our partner nonprofit 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 have stayed in communication with various government, civic, and community leaders so that our network of United Way nonprofits can operate efficiently and effectively as we all navigate uncharted territory.

United and Supported our partner nonprofits with over $185,000 in relief funding and bridged the gap from immediate response to long-term recovery. Our fundraising efforts for our Coronavirus Response Fund brought over $185,700, which we directed to our nonprofit network’s immediate needs to continue operating during the pandemic. At the same time, we’re running our annual fundraising campaign to address the long-term recovery efforts of our community.

Distributed reusable and disposable masks to partners. Many nonprofits needed masks in order to continue meeting the needs of our community. We reached out to our partners to address the need for personal protection equipment and purchased 109,618 face coverings.

Facilitated Operation Hand Sanitizer.  This involved the purchasing a 55-gallon drum of hand sanitizer that was distributed to our partners at no cost. Learn more at Ozarks First.

Distributed COVID-related supplies to the Springfield community. United Way of the Ozarks was given the opportunity to purchase COVID-related supplies through the Greene County CARES Reserve funding. These supplies included: toilet paper, paper towels, all-purpose cleaner, and bleach, which was all allocated to our partner and community nonprofits.

United Way of the Ozarks is determined to help support our community during this difficult time. Please see the list of common questions about COVID-19.

The United Way of the Ozarks is committed to supporting our nonprofit community during the coronavirus outbreak.