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Rochester United Way head says organization needs money, volunteers

Monroe County Executive's Office
United Way of Greater Rochester President and CEO Jaime Saunders speaks at a news conference on Tuesday.

A brief infusion of donations to the United Way will not allow it to sustain the operations of local nonprofit organizations for very long, the group’s president and CEO said Tuesday.

The increase in community needs brought on by school closures and workplace shutdowns during the coronavirus epidemic has put a heavy burden on Rochester nonprofits, Jaime Saunders said at a news conference.

Shortly after schools closed, the United Way and the Rochester Area Community Foundation established a “crisis fund” that they said would direct money to organizations in need.

“In the first 24 hours, we had $900,000 in requests,” Saunders said.

“Many of our not-for-profits are struggling and are looking to keep their doors open.”

Saunders says the United Way is giving first priority to organizations that focus on basic needs, like food distribution, emergency housing, and domestic violence prevention.

Those nonprofits need money and volunteer support, she said. “Volunteering is considered an essential service. It is critical.”

Saunders said the United Way is following guidelines to keep volunteers safe. 

“It can be confusing to hear 'flatten the curve' and also 'volunteer.' There is a way to do both,” she said.

Saunders said the United Way’s crisis fund is trying to respond to grant applications within 48 hours.

The fund is accepting donations here, and the United Way has information about volunteering here.

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