As non-profits in the Southern Tier continue to scramble to address the needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, a coordinating agency that has long lead philanthropic efforts in the community is in the forefront.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

United Way of Broome County Executive Director LoriAnne Welch is the guest on the the weekly local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up to talk about not only how the agency is dealing with the crisis but how most vulnerable residents are getting the help they need.

Welch says the biggest job right now is getting residents the information they need immediately even as those needs constantly change.  She says when the coronavirus crisis first surfaced in March, people were needing guidance about their health, what were symptoms, when they should become concerned and where to find care.

The questions turned to acquiring supplies with even those needs changing from basics like personal health and hygiene products to finding newly required face masks.

Welch says one constant, however, has been meeting the need for food for residents.

Kathy Whyte/ WNBF News

Through it all, the volunteers on the 211 information line that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as a central point for people to get their questions answered.

Welch and the volunteers are all essential services and continue to be the only ones operating at the United Way offices in Vestal, constantly sanitizing surfaces and maintaining safe physical distance.

On another note, The United Way of Broome County, Community Foundation for South Central New York, the Conrad and Virginia Klee Foundation, the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation, George A. and Margaret Mee Charitable Foundation and Roger Kresge Foundation are operating the COVID-19 Community Response Fund Alliance to provide grants to non-profits.

Nearly $78,000 has been awarded so far and the fund is currently taking corporate and individual contributions to keep money going to non-profits providing assistance to vulnerable populations.

Donations can be made via uwbroome.org/COVID19-ACTION or text ACTION to 85511.

Southern Tier Close Up can be heard Sunday at 6 a.m. on 99.1 The Whale.