UWNEMN offering COVID-19 assistance in Koochiching County

Koochiching County donors have committed just over $17,000 for the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) COVID-19 Crisis Fund to support individuals and families in need across the county.  The purpose of the fund is to help those who have experienced job loss or reduced hours directly due to the pandemic. 

UWNEMN has been providing critical programming to the Koochiching County area for years, including the Buddy Backpacks childhood weekend hunger relief program, Imagination Library free book program, and Smiles United dental program. In addition, UWNEMN supports Koochiching County non-profits.

With the current crisis at hand, UWNEMN is working to increase the support in the region by providing financial assistance to individuals in need in Koochiching County.

“Because of our experience distributing funds to individuals and families in need due to previous mass layoffs within the mining industry and our current United for Veterans Crisis Fund, we know that we can administer funds to provide this critically needed support in Koochiching County,” said UWNEMN Executive Director Shelley Valentini.

The application for Koochiching County individuals/families to apply for up to $350 of financial assistance for basic living expenses opens on May 1st. The application and distribution process is similar to other crisis funds UWNEMN has operated. 

Individuals will create online accounts HERE to apply for assistance with their basic living expenses. They will be asked to provide documentation of the expenses as well as other financial documentation. UWNEMN will review applications, and if an application is approved, UWNEMN will directly pay the bills submitted for assistance; funds will not be distributed directly to individuals.

In order to qualify for assistance, individuals must live within Koochiching County and must demonstrate a financial loss due to unemployment or reduction of hours on or after the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order dated March 13, 2020.

Careful consideration has been made to ensure that small business owners and employees, including service industry workers, who may not be receiving help from other sources are able to apply for UWNEMN COVID-19 Crisis Funds.

Like all UWNEMN work, local support has been critical to making the COVID-19 Crisis Fund possible. Koochiching County donors to date include PCA, Otto Bremer Trust, TruStar Federal Credit Union, and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

 “PCA is pleased to join others in our community to care for people in our region who have not been able to work and have not received assistance,” said Lori Lyman, PCA public affairs manager. “We are grateful that 100 percent of donations will go to help people in Koochiching County and to have an organization like UWNEMN uniting our communities at such a critical time.”

UWNEMN anticipates the need for individual assistance in Koochiching will be high.

“We are so grateful to the companies, organizations, and foundations that have helped us launch the Koochiching County fund,” Valentini said. “But we know we have a lot of work left to do.  We will only be able to provide as much support as funds that are contributed allow and encourage those that are able to consider supporting the UWNEMN COvID-19 Crisis Fund.”

UWNEMN COVID-19 Crisis Funds will not be available to individuals who were not working prior to the pandemic or have other support systems in place. Instead, UWNEMN will continue to partner with local agencies to make referrals and work with individuals on a case-by case basis. In addition, individuals in need of assistance are encouraged to dial 2-1-1 to connect with United Way’s 24-hour helpline in Minnesota or CLICK HERE for a list of local resources.

UWNEMN also serves the Iron Range, with funds raised in that service territory remaining there.  A separate UWNEMN Iron Range COVID-19 Crisis Fund is being generated to assist individuals in that region.

Both funds are special crisis fund with no administrative costs associated, so 100% of funds received by UWNEMN will go directly to local agencies, programs, and individuals in the regions they were raised.

To donate to the UWNEMN COVID-19 Crisis Fund, CLICK HERE. Donations can also be mailed directly to 608 East Drive, Chisholm, MN 55719. Donors can specify which region their donation should be designated to online or in the memo of their check.