United Way Washington County stepping it up during public health emergency

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The coronavirus is posing even more difficult challenges to those who depend on public assistance so the United Way of Washington County is in overdrive to help meet community needs.

Heather Guessford, the agency’s new president and CEO has sounded the alarm to the region’s non-profits to assure that food and shelter are provided to the group she calls ALICE – asset-limited, income-restrained but employed. With resources stretched she is coordinating agencies to help deliver such basics as shelf-stable food. Guessford is pleased to announce, though that a $3 million private foundation grant to United Way for coronavirus relief is forthcoming. She hopes other private foundations will follow suit. She really wants to concentrate on those she identifies as “food insecure.”

“There’s been a pause button during this public health emergency to prevent cutoffs of food to the needy and to put the brakes on forecloses and shutting off utilities and holding off on evictions, but who know, thirty days from now that may all be lifted,” she says. “These people are still going to be in trouble.”

Working with the commission on aging, Guessford is making the meals-on-wheels program a priority. She says toiletries are an especially high priority and, of course, cash can always be put to good use to help those who depend on the United Way to get through these especially tough times.

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