United Way of Miami-Dade continues building a stronger Miami during COVID-19

United Way is actively responding to emerging needs – from virtual volunteer opportunities and food distributions to raising $3.5M through Operation Helping Hands

Guadalupe, a single mom laid off from her job at a plant nursery, was able to cover rent and buy groceries to feed her three children.

Kyle, Guadalupe and Cender – three individuals who are part of the countless lives affected by COVID-19. From reduced hours and furloughs to having to tap into their savings, all three individuals were able to receive help thanks to United Way of Miami-Dade and its partner agencies. COVID-19 has put the heart and soul of Miami to the test.

From partnering with local organizations and restaurants to distribute 10,000 meals and supplies to families to recruiting volunteers to mentor students and read books to children virtually, United Way continues to deliver relief and recovery assistance during this pandemic crisis. In addition to these efforts, United Way, along with a collaborative of funders, launched The Miami Pandemic Fund which has raised more than $3.5M to aid families and small businesses facing the unprecedented economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this time of need, the collaborative is urging the community to join this initiative and support each other by donating through Operation Helping Hands.

COVID-19 Efforts:

VolunteerMiami is serving as a go-to portal for local nonprofits to facilitate registration for much-needed volunteers to help with response efforts in our community. To date, more than 10 local nonprofits have leveraged the portal to recruit volunteers, leading to partnerships with more than 20 organizations. Since March 16, 400+ volunteers have signed up and/or participated in service projects.

  • Food Distribution: through partnerships and donations, United Way has distributed care packages and food baskets to more than 6,800 families and individuals. Serving those in need from United Way Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership sites, United Way Mission United veterans, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, at risk youth, older adults and more.
    • Partners include: American Airlines, Branches, Feeding South Florida, Health in the Hood, Jar + Fork and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
  • Letters to Heroes & Older Adults: nearly 1,000 digital messages received thanking our heroes on the frontline and creating connections with older adults who are isolated during this time.
  • Let’s Read Online: 60 videos posted online for children to access and continue improving literacy skills.

Kyle, an Air Force veteran who just last year moved to Miami to buy a home and start a family, but had to use up most of their savings after his wife was furloughed. He was able to get assistance to pay the landlord and buy groceries as they welcome their new baby boy.

Economic Relief and Recovery Fund

  • Miami Pandemic Response Fund: raised $3.5 million through Operation Helping Hands since its launch on March 16.
    • To date, more than 2,700 neighbors impacted by job hour reductions, furloughs and layoffs have received emergency assistance with rent/mortgage, food and medication.
  • Small Business Assistance Program, in partnership with Branches, launched to help small businesses that may not be eligible for other assistance with micro-grants coupled with technical assistance. To date, 30 small businesses have received assistance. In addition, United Way joined The Miami Foundation, Branches, Sant La and Black Professionals Network to support Metro 1’s small business initiative in Little Haiti.


  • Participated in educational virtual events with county and federal elected officials providing information and updates on resources available.
  • Served as a financial stability expert on Univision 23’s Contigo en la Comunidad program providing tips and resources on how to manage money and debt during COVID-19.
  • Assisting with financial stability, COVID-19 Resource Center, access to food for older adults, benefits to individuals in the CARES Act and opportunities with VolunteerMiami.

Cender, a father of two who lost his job at a diner and was able to receive assistance to pay rent and electricity.

Why the Miami Pandemic Response Fund:

The fund aids struggling families with emergency needs including rent/mortgage assistance, food, medication and utilities, as well as, issues micro-grants to small businesses. We know one setback can lead to a major financial hardship. More than half of local households, including more than 248,000 families with children, are struggling to meet their basic needs. A prolonged crisis like this can be catastrophic, not only for these families but for small businesses which serve as the backbone of our local economy. In fact, 81% of businesses in Miami-Dade County have less than 10 employees.

Together, we help our community weather any kind of storm, from hurricanes to viruses, we stand for a #StrongerMiami.

Please share this message and donate at https://portal.unitedwaymiami.org/COVID19.

To make a donation you can:

  1. Visit URL: https://unitedwaymiami.org/ohh_covid19
  2. Call 1-800-226-3320
  3. Give via Venmo @UnitedWayMiami
  4. Give via PayPal at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/2169193

To volunteer, you can visit www.volunteermiami.org. There are digital volunteer opportunities you can participate in from the comfort of your home.

To get help, please visit the COVID-19 resource center or call 2-1-1 where English, Spanish and Creole speakers are available to assist.

The fund was launched with the help of anchor organizations Health Foundation of South Florida, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation and The Miami Foundation with seed funding of $500,000. The Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald and Univision 23, along with its sister television and radio stations, continue to help raise awareness of the efforts.

Several corporate partners and funders have joined to support Operation Helping Hands and the Miami Pandemic Response Fund, including Allegany-Franciscan Foundation, AT&T, Bank of America, BJ’s Charitable Foundation, The Catalyst Fund Shipley Foundation, The Children’s Trust, Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund, Florida Blue, Florida Power & Light Company, Greater Miami Jewish Federation, HCA Healthcare, Helios Education Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Knight Foundation, Related Philanthropic Fund, Target and Wells Fargo. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, local and national organizations continue to step up and join the fight for a stronger Miami.

About Operation Helping Hands

Operation Helping Hands is a partnership between United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald that was created in 1998 in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes Mitch and Georges, to provide the people of South Florida a way to extend a helping hand to their neighbors in need. Since then, it has been reactivated numerous times in response to disasters and other emergency situations.

About United Way of Miami-Dade

Since 1924, United Way of Miami-Dade has been an innovative force in the community, successfully responding to emerging needs and transforming people’s lives. Today our work is focused on education, financial stability and health – the building blocks for a good life. We invest in quality programs, advocate for better policies, engage people in the community and generate resources. To learn more, give, advocate or volunteer, visit unitedwaymiami.org, facebook.com/UnitedWayMiami, twitter.com/UnitedWayMiami or instagram/UnitedWayMiami.



2020-06-05T13:59:24-04:00 June 5th, 2020|