A lot of things ended in the past 12+ months. Handshakes and high-fives we’re not the norm, getting together at a restaurant after work wasn’t on anyone’s calendar. Concerts, fairs, and family reunions we’re replaced by takeout and working from home. United Way cancelled our luncheons, hosted our meetings virtually, and the key events of our year transitioned to online or didn’t happen at all. We couldn’t safely gather 150 individuals in a room to celebrate raising over $2 million dollars during our fall campaign because of the pandemic.
While our doors have been locked, we worked through the quiet, raising $43,000 for our virtual 2020 Food Drive and more than $130,000 and counting for emergency COVID relief. We created new collaborations like the Story County Immigrant Fund and secured new grants like our Workforce Innovation Project. Our community had great needs and our objective was to move forward. Our work continued.
2021, thankfully, is bringing some greatly anticipated beginnings. We can finally sense a bit of light at the end of the dark tunnel. Our office is on the verge of reopening and maybe, someday, we can welcome the community back into our conference room to continue our virtual discussions on how we can best support those in need in Story County. We’re reimagining what’s next for our community and hopefully, moving forward, we can experience more of it together.
A major beginning we want to celebrate just happened last month. Primary Health Care, a new partner agency to United Way last fall, just opened a new dental clinic co-located with their existing medical office in west Ames. While a community dental clinic focused on those who are uninsured or underinsured isn’t new to Ames, we’ve been without one for the past year. When the pandemic hit last spring, the Story County Dental Clinic housed at Mid-Iowa Community Action, closed its doors and never reopened due to financial and staff shortages. The population that was served through that clinic had nowhere to go. Now, Primary Health Care’s Dental Clinic will be able to fill the gap that many lost during the pandemic. Our community needed this new opportunity. The new clinic brings with it new opportunities, more certainty for those uninsured, and a sense of pride knowing that we are responding to needs.
We are excited for what’s to come. Reimagining what’s next gives everyone an opportunity for positive change and that is what United Way is all about. Day in and day out, we keeping pushing the needle forward so every person in our community can achieve their human potential through health, education, and financial stability.