SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – An overwhelming number of people are turning to the United Way of the Coastal Empire for help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit, which connects residents with other organizations for aid, has raised nearly $218,000 for its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.
It’s perhaps needed now more than ever with calls for help mounting.
Brynn Grant, United Way of the Coastal Empire CEO, says their 211 helpline is four times busier than last week. They received 5,000 calls for help in just one week.
“That is way over anything that we’ve ever seen before and frankly, it is impacting our ability to respond,” Grant said. “We are doing our very best to answer the phone and talk to people who need us — to return calls and messages that have had to be left.”
She said processing applications for assistance requires several hours of training. United Way quickly realized three staff members couldn’t handle the volume and trained about 20 more people to help.
“We’re working hard every single day and putting as much manpower as we can towards answering calls and supporting people who need help,” Grant said.
The nonprofit urges those who may be waiting for a call back to visit their website to explore available resources.
United Way says they’re using every donation to the emergency fund to help local residents — mostly for those who need help paying rent.
“We really want to help prevent them from falling over the edge and into homelessness,” Grant said. “Certainly once that happens, getting up and out of that and ready to go back to work when the economy goes back the difficulty is multiplied.”
The organization has expanded its helpline hours. Simply dial 211 or visit here for assistance.