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Sunday, Aug 14, 2022


 Orange County residents need a compassionate, helping hand now more than ever.
The number of COVID-19 cases rose dramatically in December and January. While it’s been declining in recent days as we went to press, members of our community are still in the thick of it, fighting daily to maintain their livelihood.
Like virtually every community in America, this healthcare crisis has taken a terrible economic and personal toll locally. Tens of thousands of our neighbors, friends and former co-workers are struggling to make ends meet after being temporarily furloughed or permanently laid off from their jobs. OC unemployment in December increased to 7.4% from 6.4% in November. In December 2019, it was 2.4%.
The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our state and local economy—and our fellow citizens. Daily struggle after struggle ensues for many families in need, and we must all agree to do more. Our work is not done.
When the pandemic first hit here, the stakes were too high not to jump in with every resource and potential solution we could muster. Compassionate corporate and community partners reacted quickly and joined us; and together we began focused efforts to bring hope to Orange County’s most vulnerable families and individuals.

$5M Relief Fund
A key element to support our beloved Orange County community was the creation of a Pandemic Relief Fund, where we’ve raised $5 million in a variety of ways. The funds are being used to:
n Help prevent homelessness among low-income individuals and families by providing emergency funds for basics such as rent, food and utilities.
n Support front-line workers and organizations through materials and supplies to prevent the spread of disease.
n Help low-income students and their families stay connected to online academic learning.
n Assist strategic partners, such as local food banks and other vital community service providers, so they can carry out their critical work.
The Pandemic Relief Fund has received financial backing and support from generous individuals, foundations and companies like Automobile Club of Southern California, Brookfield Residential, City of Anaheim, Ducommun, Edwards Lifesciences, Homeful, Lyons-Smith Family Foundation, Mission Hospital, Pacific Life Foundation, Providence, The Stephen G. Oswald & Regina Oswald Foundation, UniHealth Foundation, and Wells Fargo, among many others.

Homelessness Prevention
As part of the fund, we’ve launched a Homelessness Prevention Program to support Orange County families at risk due to a change in income caused by this crisis. So far, more than 6,000 families have been provided with $500 emergency debit cards to help with rent, utilities, food, and other basic needs during the pandemic through our Homelessness Prevention Program. Most recently, an additional $1 million was donated to the fund, which will directly help 2,000 more families in need.
Businesses and other community members across Orange County have stepped up in countless ways to support the community during this pandemic.
In a unique partnership with Amazon Web Services, we created a mobile and web-enabled app called AssistOC that lets in-need residents apply for and receive emergency financial assistance without going through a lengthy process. Thanks to Bank of America’s secure and proven emergency relief debit card system already in place, individuals and families requests for help are processed quicker and our Homelessness Prevention Program assistance funds are issued and received faster.
There are so many other ways companies and community leaders have helped us help those in need.
KPMG donated 3,000 children’s books and with other contributions, more than 10,000 books have been distributed to children from low-income families in our community.  
RPP Products Inc. shifted its motor oil production process to manufacture hand sanitizer (when it was hard to find) and donated 100 cases for distribution to homeless shelters across Orange County.
Working with Moving Forward Together, Orange County United Way acquired 15 pallets of hand sanitizer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and distributed them to 18 Orange County community-based organizations.

30K Masks
We are working with “Nailing it for America” initiative, which was founded by OC Vietnamese-American professionals Tam Nguyen, Christie Nguyen, Ha Duong, Johnny Ngo and Ted Nguyen. It is a volunteer effort led by several professionals and businesses to donate personal protective equipment (PPE), meals and support to healthcare professionals and other front-line workers during the pandemic. So far, it’s spurred a groundswell of donations of 1.2 million PPE worth approximately $30 million and more than 52,000 restaurant meals nationally.  
We’ve helped Orange County Social Services Agency get 30,000 masks that were donated to In-Home Supportive Services providers working with aging seniors, blind, or disabled residents who cannot live at home safely without assistance. Community members and residents lent a helping hand and volunteered to serve 2,000 meals to front-line workers at local emergency shelters and grocery stores.
Together, we continue to identify and deploy essential services to those in need, from hosting supply drives for students participating in distance learning to donating meals.  
We also recently launched our Class of 2021 program. In record time, 300 professionals from businesses across Orange County stepped up to e-mentor 300 high school seniors from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Garden Grove—OC communities hardest hit by COVID-19, and not just economically. These professionals responded quickly and fervently. Through individualized virtual workshop sessions, they will help these Orange County students graduate on time and ensure they are set up for success.

A Big Thank You
For decades, we’ve assisted Orange County businesses in developing their corporate social responsibility and philanthropy programs. When the local community needed critical help, many of those same businesses answered the call.
On behalf of your United Way and the entire community, thank you to the Orange County corporate community for your generous financial and in-kind donations, and the dedication of all the volunteers who have put those in need first during this difficult time.
Together, we can help our students succeed, our struggling families find financial security, and our neighbors experiencing homelessness find a place to call home. We will build a better and brighter future for all of Orange County.
Our work has never been more relevant. If you are able to help, we could use it now. Visit unitedwayoc.org.

Editor’s Note: Susan Park is CEO of Orange County United Way and Steve Churm is the board chair, Orange County United Way and executive vice president, public affairs, FivePoint Holdings LLC. This week’s issue of the Business Journal features our list of the largest Charitable Gifts in 2020 (see page 20).


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