United Way of Merced County Unifies the Community to Recover from the Storm Together

In times of devastation, communities and corporations must work together to recover. Thanks to Comcast’s partnership and $50,000 contribution, United Way of Merced County is able to build a long-term storm recovery program for the communities they serve.

Guest Writer: Robert Hypes, Interim CEO of United Way of Merced County

United Way of Merced County is committed to building stronger communities by identifying service gaps and working with community partners to fulfill those needs. Through programs and initiatives designed to improve education and financial stability and make communities healthier, we aim to equip our neighbors and community members with the resources and tools they need to thrive.

After this season of unprecedented, severe weather, Merced County has especially felt the impact of the recent storm damage. Households and families are struggling as some homes have completely flooded and need to be rebuilt, most of which are in low-income areas. The impact of the storm goes beyond the floods at hand; it has created a housing and health crisis, and we’ll be seeing these effects for years to come.

With the rise of a new need for disaster relief in Merced County, United Way of Merced County has adjusted its focus. We have created a variety of different programs and initiatives to support our community through their recovery, from working directly with the County of Merced to raise donations to supplying evacuation centers with food, blankets, and other emergency essentials.

From the very beginning, Comcast was working with us to support the communities of Merced County. During the first wave of storms in January, Comcast provided wall-to-wall WiFi services to the evacuation shelters to keep our communities connected and safe. When the City of Merced issued an evacuation order for areas with flooding risk from Bear Creek, Comcast joined forces with us and delivered food, beverages, and personal hygiene kits to over 300 people at the Merced County Fairground evacuation center.

I am excited to announce that Comcast is continuing its partnership with the United Way of Merced County, granting us $50,000 to support disaster relief efforts. We plan on using this contribution to fund long-term recovery efforts and fill unmet needs among our residents and their families.

Partnerships with companies like Comcast are essential for our organization. As a society, we have gotten so used to looking at everything in such a global way, that we are missing out on individual stories and communities. Donations for smaller, underserved communities go a long way and create a lasting positive impact on our organization and those we serve. Comcast’s donation is a representation of their consideration for every community in their network, even smaller and more rural areas like ours.

Moving forward, my mission as Acting CEO is to focus on breaking down silos within the community. I want to start honest conversations with community groups, stakeholders, and local leaders to shift from a state of discussing change to proactively enacting change.

When I first joined the United Way of Merced County as a Fundraiser in 2018, I knew that regardless of my position, I wanted to advocate for the large sections of our community who feel voiceless and navigate pathways and partnerships to empower them. As I eventually transitioned into the role of Community Impact Manager and then Acting CEO, I have continued to remain true to that purpose.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the endless opportunities and needs within the community, especially with our recent challenges. However, I believe beginning with incremental change and focusing on helping individuals one by one is the foundation to make an achievable and impactful difference for Merced County.

To learn more about the United Way of Merced and stay up to date on our programs and initiatives, visit https://www.unitedwaymerced.org/.

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