President's Corner: United During Crisis

by UWNEMN Board President Eric Clement

As of April 1st, I assumed the role of Board President of United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN).  Traditionally, the torch is passed from the outgoing Board President to the incoming at UWNEMN’s Annual Campaign Celebration, which was unable to take place this year due to the ongoing pandemic.  I had been looking forward to the dinner, however, I am extremely grateful and excited to lead this organization, no matter the state of the world.  Why?  Because UWNEMN is the organization that will best help our communities to weather this and any storm.  Because UWNEMN will raise funding to feed children, aid our veterans, provide basic needs support, and help individuals who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.  Because united we will make it through this.

I am sure no one needs a reminder about all the disappointments out there.  Vacations, celebrations, holidays, graduations – all canceled.  So many unexpected changes for all.  Homeschooling teenage boys while working from home full-time is definitely not something I planned on!  However, in the midst of all the craziness and chaos, I find gratitude and comfort knowing that UWNEMN is there for our region. 

UWNEMN has had to cancel two upcoming fundraisers.  The first is the long-time regional favorite, Flavor of the North food tasting showcase that benefits the Buddy Backpack meal kit program for food-insecure children.  I love Flavor of the North!  You can usually find me selling raffle tickets at the event. Tasting all of the food and bidding on the auction items is a blast, and the event raises nearly $50,000 for Buddy Backpacks. The Buddy Backpacks program is needed now more than ever, and meal kits are still being packed and distributed by UWNEMN staff.

UWNEMN also canceled a new event, Bull Ride for the Brave, scheduled to raise critically needed funds for United for Veterans.  The United for Veterans crisis fund is nearly depleted, and this new event would have directly supported local veterans in our region in need of assistance.  We are still selling $100 raffle tickets to raise money for our area veterans, and we will continue to look for other opportunities to fund this much needed cause.  For your chance to win $6,000 and many other prize levels, call 218-215-2422.

To support our communities’ most vulnerable and those hard hit by the pandemic, UWNEMN has established the COVID-19 Crisis Fund.  The fund will support Buddy Backpacks, United for Veterans, UWNEMN agencies that support basic needs for our communities’ most vulnerable, and individuals who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

To encourage others to support this local relief fund, the Northland Foundation has generously committed to matching up to $25,000 in donations. (APRIL 15TH UPDATE: The Northland Foundation match was fulfilled, and the Dwight and Lorraine Jamar Foundation has since committted to matching up to $10,000 in donations.)   I hope you will join me in supporting this fund.  This is the best way to help our neighbors in need during this crisis.  Plus, your donation will be matched, doubling your impact. The only way we are going to make it through this is to unite (while remaining socially distant) and provide support to those who need it most.

To donate to the UWNEMN COVID-19 Crisis Fund, visit: click here. Donations can also be mailed directly to 608 East Drive, Chisholm, MN 55719.