From the United Way: YWCA’s Carolyn’s House critical to supporting underserved women and children throughout COVID-19 pandemic

Lockport Union-2 months before

For over 35 years, the United Way has been providing critical support dollars to the YWCA for programs which include domestic violence services and services to homeless women and children at Carolyn’s House. Carolyn’s House is the only long-term supported housing for homeless women and children in Niagara County. As a program specifically funded by United Way of Greater Niagara, Carolyn’s House, opened in 2005, has seen hundreds of women and children pass through its doors on their way to a safe, dignified future. While at Carolyn’s House and with the support of dollars from the ...ommunity, residents are linked with services including case management, counseling, workforce training and employment opportunities, parenting, domestic violence support groups, financial literacy, health initiatives and housing relocation assistance.

In 2020, the 19 women and 35 children at Carolyn’s House were challenged in many ways by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As with many single parents — especially those who have lived in poverty or experienced violence — issues including childcare, education, unemployment and food insecurity added to the residents’ fear of the virus for themselves and their children. The YWCA, with the support of United Way of Greater Niagara and other community partners, was able to provide food, academic support, PPE, transportation, health care education and many other lifesaving resources for these families.

In 2020, domestic violence victims had the added stress of leaving their abusers during a pandemic. While shelters were generally open for those who were forced to flee, the added risk of contracting the virus may have prompted some to stay in their situations and expose themselves and their children to ongoing violence. The YWCA, with the support of “Cares” funding, reacted to this by opening a COVID positive domestic violence shelter to house victims who were either ill or quarantining.

Programs like Carolyn’s House are challenging to fund. Most nonprofit organizations are underwritten with a patchwork of local, state and federal grants which are never guaranteed, and with the financial challenges of 2020, are even less reliable. The most difficult to fund are often the services provided to the most fragile community members, the underemployed teetering on homelessness and poverty, and women and children in crisis. Without the United Way support we receive from the community, the gaps in funding would be even more challenging to fill.

The YWCA and the women and children we serve every day greatly rely on the support of the community through the United Way to help cover costs of these critical services. If you look closely, you will eventually see someone in your family or circle of friends who has been served by a program supported by United Way of Greater Niagara. Thank you for donating and being part of this giving community.

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