Op-ed by United Way President and CEO Dr. Jennifer O'Flannery Anderson

January 25, 2010

The reverberations from the earthquake in Haiti are beginning to be felt in Broward County and will forever change the landscape of our community.  As we accept those fleeing poverty and destruction, United Way of Broward County stands ready to fulfill the long-term response strategy to the many needs that will emerge in the coming weeks and months.

Already, hundreds of additional children from Haiti were injected into our school system and tens of thousands of adults are expected to arrive in the coming months.  The fabric of our safety net system in Broward County was straining prior to this influx of new people who need our help.  This year alone, prior to the Haiti earthquake, through our Project Lifeline funding, we provided a system for bulk purchasing of food, delivery of food, including fresh produce to 25 participating food pantries, resulting in 3 million more meals for those in need.  We provided support for thousands of low and moderate income families to receive financial counseling, foreclosure prevention assistance and emergency assistance with rent, utilities and other essential needs.  We are well aware of the fragility of our economy and the effects on local families who have been struggling.  While we are pleased to be able to do this, we recognize that there are many who need assistance beyond our ability to fund at this moment.

For seventy years your United Way of Broward County has been in service providing both the everyday and emergency needs for our community.  As the largest non-governmental funder of health and human services in Broward, we will stand tall and proudly fulfill our mission of leading the community’s long-term response, for all types of disasters.  Long after the survivors are pulled from the rubble, the aftershock of the earthquake’s devastation will be felt in Broward County.

Through convening other funders, front-line agencies, corporate and individual donors, we can promise our community that we will assess and communicate the growing requirements.  While we cannot forget about our own local families who are facing dire situations, we must now also open our hearts to help those who truly have nothing and who have come to us for shelter.  We humbly ask for your support to meet these new needs.   Please get involved with us.  Go to www.unitedwaybroward.org or call us at 954.462.4850.  You can rest assured that your United Way is doing exactly what our supporters and the communities expect—leading the way for short-term response and long-term impact.

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