Pandemic Report from the Franklin County United Way

During the global Coronavirus pandemic, we have had to stop and ask the critical question, “Are we meeting the needs of the people in our community?” At the beginning of this year, we found ourselves facing off against Meth and Opioid addictions. The addiction problem in our county has gone on for a number of years. Sadly, this has contributed to 190 students in our public schools that share a home with grandparents or friends. We don’t know the actual number of homeless that sleeps in tents or cars.

Then, March came, and with it the Covid-19 pandemic.  It hit us hard; the pandemic brought with it a plethora of issues.  One of these issues was the possibility that the healthcare system would collapse under the immense weight of a high number of cases. Secondly, many people lost their jobs as a result of the stay at home orders across the state and nation. The number of people that lost or were furloughed from their job is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, none of the agencies in Franklin County that are designed to be a safety net for the community were prepared for the onslaught of a global pandemic.  Stockpiles of supplies and money have been chipped away, and volunteers have put in countless hours. We were underfunded to face the issues before that riddled our county. As one could probably guess, we were completely underfunded to handle the Covid-19 pandemic without the help of our neighbors.

Today, our county’s unemployment rate continues to rise. We reached 9% in April. Unfortunately, we are up in May.  Some think our unemployment rate might be closer to 25% due to those that have not registered as unemployed, have given up, or are self-employed/not eligible for unemployment benefits. This dramatic increase in unemployment led families and their neighbors to fear. They were fearful of eviction, lack of food, medical care, and money for utilities. Even still, many are woefully unprepared for this life during pandemic. As a result, we have many agencies with immediate needs and increasing calls for help.

  1. Children’s Mercy Hospital furloughed many employees when they ceased elective healthcare as they prepared for a potential overflow of Covid-19 patients. This was a possibility we faced if we did not take the virus seriously and take precautions. This has upended the finances of a hospital that is essential to many children in the region. Unfortunately, there will not be Big Slick raising money and spirits this year.
  2. Elizabeth Layton Center sees to the stress that overwhelms many of us. This service is very critical still to those with addictions, and now the depression many feel from lack of social interaction.
  3. LifeCare Center is delivering to mothers and babies with curbside delivery for formula, diapers, and wipes. This is a never-ending need. Frankly, the supplies available are dwindling and desperately need to be replenished.
  4. The American Red Cross is there whenever needed. This organization commonly shows up after disasters like tornadoes and fires. However, they are also needing blood to save those in need during the pandemic. They need volunteers that are trained to help out in these emergencies.
  5. Communities in Schools of Mid-America is an agency that is more in need now than ever as homeschooling is the requirement. This organization also provides healthcare, food, and tutoring in our community. The greatest need here is those who will offer tutoring.

That is just the list of needs that agencies have delivered within the past week. Additional agency requests are the following:

  1. ECKAN assists with food distribution and housing. As previously mentioned, the high unemployment rate has led to a struggle to pay rent and utilities. ECKAN is seeing a dramatic increase in assistance for these areas.
  2. Hope House helps families in our community with utilities, food, housing, and clothing. As the homeless rate is expected to increase over the next few months, this agency is critical in giving support to those that will need it most.

Each of these organizations represented by the United Way are desperately needed. Each is in need of donations, volunteers, supplies, and money. Each of them are seeing an increase in requests for aid.  Without your help, they will be overwhelmed by the vast need in our community. Covid-19 arrived without any scheduled departure. That means one thing. We need your help. Sadly, this may not be the last time we request your help as there will be many in our community that will be in need for quite some time. However, we appreciate whatever help you are able to offer us to help those in our community.  Thank you.

United Way of Franklin County has received a Donation from Aetna Better Health of Kansas in the amount of $500.00 to Support COVID-19 Hunger Relief Initiative.  

Ottawa, Kansas – The United Way of Franklin County announced today it has received a $500.00 donation from Aetna Better Health of Kansas as part of the Medicaid organization’s efforts to address food insecurity and other community needs in response to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Way will use the funds to organize food distributions and continue to provide 211 call assistance to our community in need.

“We have a longstanding partnership with the United Way and are pleased to provide this assistance during such a critical time,” said David Livingston, CEO, Aetna Better Health of Kansas. “These funds will allow for additional food supplies to be secured and distributed to those most in need across our great state.”

“Aetna Better Health is happy to offer our support during this crisis,” said Chris Beurman, Director, Community Development, Aetna Better Health of Kansas. “We applaud the continued efforts of the United Way to fight food insecurity in our state; especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

About Aetna Better Health® of Kansas

Aetna Better Health of Kansas is a subsidiary of Aetna Medicaid Administrators LLC (Aetna Medicaid), a CVS Health Company. Since 2019, Aetna Better Health of Kansas has served the state’s most vulnerable members. Aetna Better Health of Kansas is bolstered by Aetna Medicaid’s 30 years of experience managing the care of the most medically vulnerable, using innovative approaches and a local presence in each market to achieve both successful health care results and effective cost outcomes. Aetna Medicaid has particular expertise serving high-need Medicaid members, including those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Currently, Aetna Medicaid owns and/or administers Medicaid managed health care plans under the names of Aetna Better Health and other affiliate names. Together, these plans serve approximately 2.4 million people in 16 states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Texas. For more information, see

New Food Distribution through KVC and the USDA

KVC, the fostering and adoption agency, has received a grant from the USDA to distribute 960 boxes of free food. KVC has asked the United Way to help distribute these boxes to the Franklin County community and other nonprofit agencies. Each week, the United Way and its volunteers will unload boxes of food to share with the community. If you are in need, we encourage you to come to the Don Woodward Center and line up in your car along Poplar Street. The first distribution will take place on Tuesday, June 2nd at 8:00 A.M., at the Don Woodward center and at the same time as ECKAN. This first event will be done walk-through style. The subsequent food distributions will be done each Tuesday at 8:30 A.M.; they will be conducted in the line-of-cars fashion. When the distribution begins at 8:30, volunteers will simply place a box of food in each car as the line progresses. Due to dairy products being available during some of the distributions, we will need to be finished by 10:00 A.M. so that the products do not spoil. If you know someone who is in need, please make them aware of this opportunity. This distribution will continue as long as the USDA grant has funding, which could be until the end of the year. Please be flexible as we strive to make this event fair for everyone. We also ask that all attendees observe all cautionary procedures as there will be an ECKAN walk-through food distribution going on in the same vicinity.

If you would like to volunteer to help unload the food from the truck and into cars, we encourage you to respond to the need on the Richard Jackson Volunteer Center website at this link. Volunteers will need to be able to lift at least 50 lbs.

Friday First Responder and Healthcare Worker Lunches Initiative

Our organization’s school lunch program went so well, many more volunteers and businesses have stepped forward to continue supporting our community during this pandemic.  After taking leftover student lunches to first responders and healthcare workers, several businesses asked if they could sponsor a Friday to continue giving lunches to those in our community serving on the front lines!  Thank you so much to Croucher Title for sponsoring our very first “Friday First Responder and Healthcare Worker Lunches” initiative!  United Way volunteers along with some volunteers from Croucher Title will be assembling 250-300 lunches on this last Friday of April.  KOFO Radio, Modern Woodmen, and ATC Truck Covers are sponsoring future Friday First Responder and Healthcare Worker Lunches throughout the month of May!  We may add other days besides Friday if we get more businesses!  I love our community!

Organizing Lunches for 1200+ Students in Franklin County

We have been extremely busy with our COVID-19 response in our community!  Along with a barrage of the 211 calls we handle, which relieves our emergency responders from the heavy burden of calls, USD 290 requested we organize grab-n-go sack lunches for students on days the school was not originally planning to be in session, which meant they had no food service available.  With over 50% of our students on free or reduced lunch, that meant we were helping to make sure our community’s youth could eat on those days.  So far, we have organized two days of this while leveraging over sixty different volunteers on the two days!  Thanks to our community churches and businesses, we were able to not only provide those lunches, but to donate left over lunches to first responders, hospital staff, seniors, and disabled all over our county!  Big shout out to:  Ottawa Chiropractic, Rantoul Record Breakers 4-H club, Life Mission Church, Grace Community Fellowship Church, Faith Lutheran Church, Ottawa Community Church, Hope Anthem Church, and United Way board members who jumped in, donated food supplies and money, and volunteered!  YOU ALL ROCK!  THANK YOU!!

New Staff!

Meet Carrie Black, otherwise known as Leigh’s Right Hand!  Carrie is the United Way of Franklin County’s new Administrative Assistant.  Carrie’s beautiful smiling face is a welcome to our organization and everyone who comes in contact with us!  She works parttime for us, but you will see her volunteering her time at many events and activities all around Franklin County!  We are thankful for Carrie and the upbeat charisma she brings to our community!


IQ Throw Down: Call to Sponsor!

Our IQ Throw Down is coming to Ottawa Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, April 18 at 7:00 pm!  Bring your friends, bring your coworkers, and sign up to be a team of three in our live, quiz bowl style game show!  Challenge a rival group or business and we’ll put you in a March Madness style bracket against them!  Call 785-418-2015 or email for more information!  Sponsor our event for your company’s logo on hundreds of event brackets, flyers, newspaper and radio ads!  Call or email today!Screenshot 2020-02-12 at 4.39.03 PM (1)

Kick-off the 2020 United Way Campaign with us!



When:   September 27, 2019 from 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.

Where:  Bank Midwest- 434 S. Main St. Ottawa, KS 66067

What: United Way and the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce are excited to invite you to the 2020 Campaign Kick-off Event…

About: GIVE THE CAMPAIGN A MORNING JOLT!!! What do you usually spend on your morning coffee? We challenge you to donate that amount to United Way during this fun event celebrating the good work United Way and its Member Agencies do in our community! 

Thank you to our Kick-off Event sponsors:

Bank Midwest

Mug Shot Hometown Coffee & Bake Shop

The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce

Porter-Spears & Bundy Insurance

Dengel & Son Mortuary – Crematory

How to Help with the Linwood/Lawrence Tornado Recovery

Cindy Busick

An Update on Current Recovery Needs

The Lawrence emergency shelter was closed today (5/30/2019) and there is a big team of Red Cross and County Emergency Management volunteers on-site helping people get back into their homes and get temporary housing when needed.



People interested in volunteering should call 211 – We are working with the County Emergency Management system to place local volunteers.

The Red Cross does not need additional volunteers at this time. Those interested in helping in disasters in the future should sign up to do the Red Cross orientation, and after they complete training they can be on a list to be called to help in the future.


To join the Red Cross Volunteers please visit


Only monetary donations are being accepted. To donate to the cause please visit



The 2018 Year End Report


United Way Benefits Anderson & Franklin Counties

It is estimated that United Way of Franklin County provided a $376,763 benefit to the community in 2018.

United Way of Franklin County is proud to report that the organization successfully worked with its 18       member agencies to provide a little over 10,000 residents in need in Franklin County and 1,700 residents in need in Anderson County with vital human services.   According to the Census, Franklin County’s overall population is about 26,000 people and Anderson County has about 13,000 people. Therefore, the United Way helped approximately 38% of the Franklin County population and 13%  of the Anderson County population in 2018.

United Way of Franklin County recruited 690 volunteers who leveraged 6,141 hours of community service in 2018. The estimated value of volunteer time for 2018 was $24.69 per hour, according to Independent Sector, a coalition of charities, foundations, corporations, and individuals that publishes research important to the nonprofit sector. Therefore, in 2018, the volunteers of the United Way of Franklin County helped benefit Franklin County by providing an estimated $151,622 worth of volunteer services.

In 2018 United Way facilitated the Fill the Bus school supply drive, lead a fundraising campaign and hosted several fundraising events. In addition, United Way drove several grant-funded initiatives. Dollars and in-kind donations raised by these activities totaled $225,141.

Board Leadership Leads to Success

UWFCA is fully supported by a volunteer Executive Board of 13 members and a volunteer Corporate Board of 19 members.

These board members are deeply involved and they provide organizational oversight while working alongside UWFCA staff and volunteers in order to help meet all operational and fundraising needs.

While the Executive board makes all financial & operational decisions. The Corporate Board supports the recruitment of volunteers and serves as agency advisers.

Volunteerism Makes a Difference!

With the assistance of the Department of Education and the Kansas Volunteer Commission, United Way continued to expand its skilled volunteer program to include a Science, Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Mentoring/Tutoring Program known as the STEM United Youth Project. Since the program’s start in June of 2015, over 200 individuals have stepped up to mentor in Franklin County. Those individuals have helped provide STEM educational curriculum and hands-on learning activities to 342 youth in 2015, 461 youth in 2016, 574 youth in 2017 and 368 youth in 2018.

United Way is fortunate to have been granted new funding by the Ottawa CO-OP to continue the STEM United Youth  Project in 2018. In addition, The Kansas Volunteer Commission selected United Way to help lead the growth of ECKAN’s Volunteer Center in 2018 and absorb the center in 2019. Therefore, the United Way’s focus in 2019 will be to effectively address community needs by actively seeking out and recruiting more specialized volunteers.

Thank You for Your Support!

    United Way truly appreciates the generosity and support of the Franklin County community. The dedication from United Way’s boards, volunteers, member agencies, corporate partners, small business partners, donors, and grantors made 2018 a huge success!