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'Independent Health Giving Day' to benefit United Way's 'Join the Fight Fund' for COVID relief


Fri, Mar 5th 2021 01:45 pm

All donations made to ‘Join the Fight’ Tuesday, March 16, will be matched dollar for dollar by Independent Health

On Tuesday, March 16, Independent Health and United Way of Buffalo & Erie County will seek to mobilize community members for one day of giving to support UWBEC’s “Join the Fight Fund.” All donations will support UWBEC’s efforts to respond, recover, reimagine and rebuild our community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Way and Independent Health chose March 16 to call attention to the one-year milestone when many businesses and schools began closing or shifting to work-from-home last year as the coronavirus began reaching a crisis phase locally, in New York, and throughout the U.S.

The community can visit www.uwbec.org and make a one-time, secure donation to the “Join the Fight Fund.” All donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, thanks to a grant from Independent Health.

Donations benefit a range of organizations, which directly serve those in need throughout Erie County. “Join the Fight” funding helped make it possible for the Salvation Army to provide emergency assistance to the Gayles family this past year. When Tiffany Gayles’ job at a local hospital was eliminated last spring due to the impact of the pandemic, she made the difficult decision to give up her house after exhausting the family savings. When a plan to move in with a relative fell through, the family of seven turned to the Salvation Army.

“When I got to the Salvation Army, staff were so understanding and welcoming,” Gayles said. “They really helped us settle in and made us feel comfortable. I was relieved knowing that my babies would have somewhere warm to sleep and have a hot meal.”

A few months later, the Salvation Army set the Gayles family up with an apartment.

“In the week of my move to an apartment after many months, I reflected on how much the Salvation Army and donors have helped me and my family get through this challenging time in our lives. I am truly thankful and grateful,” Gayles said.

“Every day, people in our community face personal and social crises. Homelessness, hunger, inadequate education and lack of access to health care have all be exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Michael Weiner, president and CEO UWBEC. “United Way’s mission – to bring people, organizations and resources together to create systemic community change – has never been more relevant than in the wake of the global pandemic. Independent Health Giving Day was created to provide a focal point for fundraising to support UWBEC’s efforts to rebuild an equitable and more resilient Buffalo and Erie County.”

Michael W. Cropp, M.D., president and CEO of Independent Health, also encouraged community members to come together and contribute to Join the Fight and help UWBEC provide assistance to families like the Gayles.

“As a community-based health plan, I firmly believe we can have the greatest positive impact on this region by addressing health disparities and improving access to the health care system. We are honored to join the fight with the United Way and support this vital community campaign,” Cropp said. “Independent Health has committed to matching all gifts made during this 24-hour period to further emphasize the importance of community-wide participation in supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.”

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