“This past year of unprecedented challenges was also filled with compassion and unity. We are grateful to be part of a community that LIVES UNITED.”
IMPACT: Live United
Berks County raised nearly $11 million to invest in 80+ high priority, high-quality programs throughout our community. To learn about our investments, visit our Focus Areas page.
Meet Someone You've Helped
The past few years have been tough for Richard. Financial hardship is a major stress for him; he does not have enough money to buy food, clothing, or other basic necessities. He is in dire need, and it is difficult to imagine where he and others might be without the help of New Journey Community Outreach (NJCO), a United Way Agency Partner. NJCO provides food and clothing to those in greatest need.
In Richard’s words, “through New Journey and Miss Denise [NJCO Food Program Coordinator], my life is more manageable in more ways than I could ever say. They’ve fed me, given me the clothing on my back and the wheelchair that I’m sitting in… the things that this organization have done for me and my life are beyond anything. Denise is my angel.” Read more of Richard’s story
IMPACT: Responding to COVID-19
During the last year we were all impacted by the pandemic, and our daily lives were altered. For too many individuals and families COVID-19 meant new struggles.
United Way quickly established a Berks COVID-19 Response Fund to support critical services delivered by dedicated nonprofits working on the frontlines to help our most vulnerable neighbors. Through YOUR generosity $1,000,000 was raised in record time.
raised for Berks County nonprofits
were awarded, totaling $837,000
Berks Countians received help
through the COVID Response Fund
PPEs, sanitizing supplies and personal care items distributed
COVID Grants in Action: Berks Encore
Throughout the pandemic. it was imperative that homebound seniors continue to receive nutritious meals as they limited their exposure to others. With the support of a grant from United Way’s COVID Response Fund, our agency partner, Berks Encore, was able to pack and distribute 2,000 emergency food boxes of shelf-stable food to local seniors, along with supplemental meals in partnership with Redner’s Markets. This allowed seniors to receive meals for evenings and weekends.
Erin, a Meals on Wheels recipient, appreciated the extra support – and she especially enjoyed the quality of the meals. “They had the creamiest mashed potatoes I have eaten in a long time!”
Find more Response Fund Stories of Hope on our blog.
IMPACT: Building a Stronger Community for All
The Oakbrook Collective Impact Council (OCIC) remained strong during 2020. United Way partnered with Berks Community Health Center and created a shared outreach position to develop relationships with OCIC Resident Ambassadors and to assist with neighborhood activities and events.
Good Things Are Growing in Oakbrook
OCIC partnered with the 18th Wonder Improvement Association on a Victory Garden project, and families received garden materials and plants to grow some of their own food. The project encouraged home food gardening and increased food security.
Follow Ready.Set.READ on Instagram to see the many ways OCIC and the residents of Oakbrook are working together to build a stronger neighborhood.
IMPACT: Helping Kids Succeed
When COVID struck, all schools closed and Ready.Set.READ! Star Readers, an in-school tutoring program, was also paused. Whether schools remained virtual, returned to the classroom or established a hybrid structure, the Star Readers program required a new approach in the COVID environment. United Way worked with Schuylkill Valley School District to pilot Vello, a virtual tutoring program. Vello safely connects students and trained volunteer tutors online and utilizes a virtual library tailored to each student’s skill level. Teachers monitored progress and reported participating students maintained or increased reading skills.
I love supporting struggling students who just need that little extra push. You get to watch their evolution before your eyes.
IMPACT: Berks County’s Future
United Way of Berks County was surprised and grateful to be one of the recipients of a gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott at the end of 2020. She donated $4.2 billion to 384 high performing organizations across the U.S. to support increased needs from the pandemic and to help the most vulnerable persons in communities; United Way of Berks County received $10 million.
This gift does not replace annual campaign dollars, but instead provides new funding for immediate COVID-related needs and targeted longer-term systemic change. Learn more about the ways in which this gift is being invested in our community on our MacKenzie Scott page.
IMPACT: Opportunities for All
United Way launched Leadership United, a new division focused on community engagement and volunteer recruitment, development/training and placement. Leadership United incorporates our fully established programs, Blueprint for Leadership, Emerging Leaders United and the Volunteer Center, as well as Leadership Berks, new programming to United Way.