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United Way stepping up to form partnerships

As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to slog on, more and more people will come to require aid.

In Austin, the United Way of Mower County is already moving to be a central hub to help organize efforts to assist those in need because of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Executive Director Molly Lanke, several groups within Austin are pledging to help in whatever capacity they can and the UW will help try to bring those groups together in one concerted effort.

“The alignment of those groups and services were needed and that’s where we’re stepping up our efforts now,” Lanke said.

To help do that, the UW of Mower County has launched a COVID-19 Community Response Alignment Survey where people who visit the site can either sign up for assistance or sign up to provide assistance.

Molly Lanke executive director of United Way of Mower County. Photo provided

“We sent out that link to community partners to identify deficiency gaps,” Lanke said. “We don’t want to leave anybody behind.”

Through this effort, the United Way can then match people with resources, whether it be those who need them or those that can offer them.

It’s a chance to cement existing partnerships in the city in the face of a federal emergency as well as forging new ones.

“It’s facilitating partnerships,” Lanke said. “We’ve been finding many organizations that would like to provide a service, but don’t have the financial means or the human capacity to do that.”

One of those partnerships has been lining up Hormel Food Corps. with the Mower County Senior Center. Hormel has already pledged at least $1 million dollars to the effort of combating the coronavirus.

Hormel has now stepped up with resources for the Senior Center to ensure seniors will have the support they need.

“Through United Way, Hormel Foods has partnered with Mower County Seniors in an effort to help feed our seniors a meal during this critical time,” Lanke said.

Over the coming weeks, the United Way will release more information on this effort through that same website: uwmower.org/covid-19.html.

In the meantime, the United Way will continue to help where needed, but while it is in a position to help, there are some concerns down the line. As of right now, the resources are there to help, but Lanke’s concern as this pandemic stretches further is how long that will last.

It’s simply unknown.

“I think the biggest concern is that are we depleting resources too fast?” Lanke said. “Do we power through and meet the need or ration (our resources). I think it’s just a tough conversation.”

Either way, the United Way is going to take the steps needed as America continues to grapple with COVID-19.

“Take this seriously,” Lanke said. “It’s really important to listen to state and local health officials. Always better to overreact rather than under react. Be kind, be safe.”

“Live united, but not too united because practice social distancing,” she added with a smile, referring to the organization’s catch phrase.

For help

For more resources or to connect with the United Way of Mower County Minnesota residents across Minnesota can call 211, text your zip code to 898211 or visit our website and chat at www.211unitedway.org. For information and updates specific to coronavirus, you can text MNCOVID to 898211.

The number listed on this internet meme going around is not for local inquiries. Photo provided

A recent internet meme circulating on the internet sharing a phone number for financial assistance with things like bills, rent and food. United Way of Mower County Executive Director Molly Lanke would like people to know that the number shared is specific to the United Way of Central Indiana’s COVID-19 fund and not available outside that area.

“We want people to know that, although an economic relief fund is not available in Austin right now, we continue to explore all options as conditions change,” Lanke said.