The Silver Linings of 2020

There’s absolutely nothing good about a global pandemic, claiming lives and wreaking havoc on families, businesses, and economies. The rituals of our life have been transformed in ways we hadn’t even considered possible pre-pandemic. But United Way of Story County, like countless others in our community, flexed our innovation muscle unlike ever before. We learned how to pivot when needed, and discovered some good along the way.

About the third week of March, our world was turned upside down and everyone went into survival mode. Programs shut down, schools closed, and organizations that helped those in need felt the weight of the world on their shoulders, United Way included. Not knowing how long COVID-19 would impact our work, we adapted incredibly quickly. From food pantries offering delivery, to schools working together to provide free meal pickups for students; together, we responded to the chaos with ingenuity and finesse.

Because of COVID, our usual way of communicating was broken. We no longer held regularly scheduled meetings, events, or conferences. Offices were closed and emails were overloaded. Face-to-face sessions were halted. But through the pandemonium, new paths were forged and partnerships blossomed. United as a community, we figured out emergency child care options. United we kept children and families fed when schools shut down. United we adapted our life-giving programs to keep individuals safe. Therapy appointments turned virtual to ensure those who needed support could still be accommodated. Childcare centers created new procedures for everything they offered, from child drop-off to playground use. Area shelters housed guests in hotel rooms to decrease exposure. Camps and after-school programs shifted to virtual opportunities and offered “to-go” projects to keep kids engaged while quarantined.

All of this was accomplished in the blink of an eye. We went from business as usual, to creating engaging virtual events, organizing new channels for providing education, and incorporating protocols to keep workers and visitors safe when in-person exchanges couldn’t be avoided. Most importantly, we turned a dire situation into one we could get through, because we did it together.

United Way of Story County has always understood the pulse of human services needs in Story County. Through this pandemic, our position as a community convener has shined through the hardships. We thank everyone who answered our call to come together and figure out solutions. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re grateful for the new trails we blazed in 2020. Positive change is coming, but change doesn’t happen alone. We welcome 2021 with a brand new outlook on what it means to LIVE UNITED.