Jackson continues to come together to meet community needs during the COVID-19 crisis. One partnership that is making an impact is the collaboration of the City of Jackson and the United Way of Jackson County.
This time of the year, the Boos Community Center is often packed with residents enjoying recreation activities. But in summer 2020, the community center is functioning as the distribution center for Jackson’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stacks of boxes ready to go out to residents in need fill the center’s gymnasium, packed with food, cleaning supplies and personal care products. “It’s phenomenal. I’ve seen people stepping up in so many amazing ways,” said Colleen Sullivan, AFLCIO Community Services Liaison for the United Way of Jackson County.
When the crisis began in March, the Jackson Community Foundation and the United Way of Jackson County created the COVID-19 Response Fund. The fund has raised $343,349 over the past four months thanks to donations from businesses, organizations and families. Those funds are used to purchase supplies that are distributed from the Boos Center to local non-profits for relief efforts, along with supporting area organizations with COVID-related work.
In recent months, 170,000 pounds of food, 57,213 personal care products, 46,335 diapers, 22,728 cleaning products and 6,394 baby supply items have gone out to the community. Colleen Sullivan of the United Way oversees supply distribution at the center. She says these efforts have helped thousands of residents. “Jackson has a high poverty rate, so a lot of the need is always there. But when we have a crisis like this, it really pushes people over the edge,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan and fellow United Way employee Lois Dunning work alongside City of Jackson employees John Willis, Marshawn Norris and Roy Ryan to distribute the supplies. “We couldn’t have done any of this without the City. The City brought all of the people together and offered up places like the Boos Center, which enabled us to focus on other things for the relief effort,” Sullivan said.
Mayor Derek Dobies declared a State of Emergency in March due to pandemic. He says this declaration has helped make City government more flexible when responding to the crisis. “I am very proud of the way our City has responded to this pandemic. Quick and thoughtful action from City leadership early on helped our government and entire community respond to the crisis,” Dobies said. “I am heartened by the close work of the City and United Way. Partnerships like this will be needed as we continue to meet the growing needs of Jackson.”
The COVID-19 Response Fund is still taking donations and allocating funds to help the community. Donations are accepted online by visiting uwjackson.org and going to the “Donate” section. If you’re looking for help, call the 2-1-1 helpline to get connected with response efforts.