With little notice, COVID caused school districts to close abruptly in mid-March. For Marcy Jo, 54 and a bus driver for Hamburg Area School District, this meant a sudden loss of a job and a paycheck. She quickly applied for unemployment, which was a slow process. With no income, Marcy Jo had no means to buy food or pay her bills.
Marcy Jo reached out to The Salvation Army: Service Extension Unit, a United Way Agency Partner and recipient of a COVID Response Grant. The Extension Unit primarily serves rural areas like Hamburg and the county’s northern area. When people reach out to us, it is a last resort,” said Rebecca Netznik, regional manager of The Salvation Army: Service Extension Unit. “When they have no supplemental funds…no food…nowhere else to turn, they come to us.”
“The COVID funding received from United Way of Berks County allowed the agency to provide Marcy Jo with the hand-up she needed, and we didn’t have to worry about where the money was going to come from in order to help her,” Netznik said. “We are here to help those in their greatest time of need, and the tremendous support from the United Way of Berks County allows us to do just that for our neighbors during this pandemic.” Assistance provided to people needing support, like Marcy Jo, included emergency boxes of food, help applying for LIHEAP heating assistance and food assistance.
Marcy Jo is one of thousands of Berks County residents who have directly benefited from United Way’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Thanks to many generous contributions to the fund, United Way of Berks County has awarded nearly 40 grants to local nonprofits providing help and hope when and where it is needed most.