Regional COVID-19 relief fund raises $361,000

Sue Guinn Legg • Apr 19, 2020 at 8:02 PM

The United Way Regional COVID Relief Fund, an effort of seven United Way agencies in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, has raised more than $361,000, exceeding its goal of raising 19% of its total $1.9 million target in its first 19 days.

Designated for immediate and long-term needs rising from novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the fund will announce its first disbursement to local nonprofit service agencies on Monday, April 20.

Kristan Spear, president and CEO of the United Way of Washington County, said Monday’s disbursement will come from a large corporation that designated its contribution to the fund to a specific local need.

The regional disbursement will follow up on last week’s disbursement of $33,100 in relief fund donations designated for nonprofit agencies providing COVID-19 relief services in Washington County.

“Time continues to be of the essence in helping meet the immediate needs due to the impact of the pandemic,” Spear said.

“We are so grateful to those who have stepped up to be a part of ongoing relief and recovery in our region. From the essential employees of the nonprofit partners who are our boots on the ground and to those who have donated to the regional and local relief funds, we want to say a huge thank you. We will get through this and we will do it together because we are stronger together,” she said.

The regional relief fund was established on March 26 through a partnership of the United Way agencies in Washington, Carter, Greene and Hawkins counties, Greater Kingsport, Bristol TN/VA and Southwest Virginia in response to a request from several large corporations that wished to assist people throughout the region impacted by the pandemic.

The participating United Way agencies collectively donated $87,000 in emergency reserve funds to kick start the fund’s drive for $1.9 million to meet needs that are expected to evolve over time as the pandemic continues.

An advisory council made up of United Way leaders and local health and human services officials has been established to review needs and make disbursements from the fund as the pandemic evolves over the coming weeks and months.

Those who wish to support the fund may make donations to the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia COVID Relief Fund online at www.netnswvarelief.org, by texting NETSWVARelief to 41444, or by mail to United Way Regional COVID-19 Relief Fund, P.O. Box 664, Abingdon, VA 24212. Donations to the fund may be designated for “regional relief” or for  any county served by the participating United Way agencies.