BERLIN – When the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping through New Hampshire Granite United Way was there to help.

“We know there are immediate needs across all of our communities, and we are proud to be working together with so many individuals and partners to bring that to our Northern Region,” said Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way.

One of the first ways Granite United Way’s team stepped up was when the Governor’s announcement was made that 211 NH would serve as the information line for the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that announcement, the team at 211 NH has taken more than 32,000 calls from New Hampshire residents.

“Granite United Way quickly established the Granite United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund where 100 percent of donations are being directed to individuals and families in need because of the pandemic. To date this Fund has raised $475,000 in pledges and we anticipate raising $750,000 in total,” said Tufts.

Granite United Way is working with regional organizations to help distribute these funds across the state.

“We are proud to be partnering with AHEAD in the Northern Region to deliver this help to our neighbors in need,” said Scoop Welch, Vice President of Regional Operations for Granite United Way. “It’s inspiring to see our community pulling together during these unsettling times.”

Some examples of investments in the Northern Region during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

• Food pantries were some of the first organizations the Granite United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund reached out to, understanding many were being inundated by newly unemployed individuals. In the Northern Region, Feeding Hope Food Pantry in Berlin and Helping Hands in Colebrook received support from the fund.

• Granite United Way made a $10,000 investment in the New Hampshire Hospitality Employee Relief Fund to assist those who were directly affected by the closures of restaurants and lodging establishments.

• Support was provided to WIC programs that were experiencing when converting many of their program to remote access.

• Granite United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has made the pivot to a ‘virtual’ service to help low to moderate income households file their taxes for free. Those interested in accessing this program can call 211 to set up a ‘virtual’ appointment with a volunteer tax preparer.

“Granite United Way has always been here for our community, and we are committed to helping individuals and families recover from this crisis.” Said Tufts.

“It is also wonderful to see some of our community partners adapting to make sure that Northern Region residents are able to access nutritious food,” said Laura Boucher, Northern Region Area Manager for Granite United Way.

Those examples include: Community Café has adjusted their weekly meals to move from a "dine in" style to a "Drive up and carry out” method averaging close to 230 meals served per week in the last several weeks of the COVID crisis and Feeding Hope Food Pantry waived the income requirement so that anyone who find themselves low on food (either because of losing their job or local stores unable to keep up with demand) can receive assistance.

Granite United Way’s purpose is to convene public, private, and governmental leaders and resources to tackle the largest, most pressing issues facing our community. Granite United Way, the merger of 6 local United Ways, mobilizes the power of 22,000 donors and volunteers to provide more than $14 million in support to over 350,000 individuals and provides funding to more than 750 nonprofit programs. Granite United Way serves the Central Region, Merrimack County, North Country, Northern Region, Southern Region (Manchester / Derry / Salem) and Upper Valley Regions of New Hampshire as well as Windsor County, Vermont. For more information, visit graniteuw.org.

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