The Shiawassee County essential needs hotline is (989) 743-2460 and considering nearly 30 percent of residents still do not have regular access to the Internet or social media, it is critically important to share this number during the continuation of the COVID-19 crisis. So, if you are stressed over food, transportation, housing/rent, bills or mental health, the Shiawassee County Health Dept. and Shiawassee Health & Wellness are urging you to call this number or share it with family members and friends who might be in need. Please note, calling this number does not guarantee that every means of stress might be taken care of, but it does mean that help is available for those truly in a tough situation.

   How does this work? The United Way of Genesee County/Serving Shiawassee County has been collecting funds specifically allocated for the Shiawassee Emergency Operations Center (EOS) organized under the Shiawassee Office of Emergency Management in Corunna. These funds are only for Shiawassee County. Some donors include the Cook Family Foundation, Consumers Energy, the Owosso/Corunna Meijer store, Cargill, Inc. in Owosso, DTE, Huntington Bank and numerous individual donors. In recent discussions with United Way Chief Executive Officer Jamie Gaskin and United Way Relationship Specialist Emily Marrah, it was suggested that future donations can be mailed to the United Way, though checks need to be earmarked for Shiawassee County COVID-19, or online giving is also available through Raise Up Shiawassee/United Way at Again, it is important to notate that all donations are for Shiawassee County COVID-19.

   According to Gaskin, the fundraising has “really been a hyper-local process.” United Way does not make any of the operational decisions regarding the urgent needs through the hotline. He also stated that United Way is “not taking any administrative costs from these benefits.” For those living in Genesee County, donations are also being accepted and information is provided on the United Way website under the Greater Flint COVID-19 Urgent Relief Fund.

  Marrah further explained that needs are being met through the hotline via the Shiawassee Health and Wellness with local agencies providing case management such as Capital Area Community Services, Shiawassee/Genesee Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the Disability Network, the Shiawassee Council on Aging and the ARC. Other nonprofits are currently looking to become involved, too. “It’s pretty amazing how our nonprofits are able to assist and how they’ve been able to step up and protect those that they service and still keep operating.” She mentioned Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee and the Durand Union Station for tasking mask making, as one example.

   Marrah only started with United Way last September, having moved back to Shiawassee County after living in Florida where she did project management. She shared that both her and Gaskin feel that a “teaspoon approach of everyone giving a little to the greater good,” is a terrific method utilized by United Way, and the “Raise Up Shiawassee movement is so great due to bringing all of these nonprofits together to work collectively.”

   Jeffrey Weiss of Shiawassee County Emergency Services/Homeland Security and Jodi DeFrenn of the Shiawassee County Health Dept. both supported that the EOS is the facilitator for the funds from United Way through the hotline. So far, $28,000 has been allocated toward COVID-19 relief for residents with monies dispersed to those agencies such as Capital Area Community Services, the Shiawassee Council on Aging, the SafeCenter and the Salvation Army. Weiss and DeFrenn wanted to emphasize that there are no restrictions to call in, though that does not mean every need can be fulfilled. So far, a wide variety of individuals of all age groups have called in seeking assistance during this difficult period.

  To reiterate, the hotline is (989) 743-2460. It is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  Thank you for the donation from a hot dog sale promotion and to the Schluckebier Hood Wealth Management Group for matching that donation. She also highlighted how Light of Faith Fellowship in Durand had purchased pinwheels just prior to quarantine and that she was grateful to the church.

   For more on how to help Voices for Children Advocacy Center of Shiawassee, please call (989) 723-5877 ext. 220. If you leave a message, Lynch will return your call. Additional resources and information is provided at

   The organization remains open and is still conducting therapy and reaching out to clients.

Essential Needs Could be One Phone Call Away was last modified: May 4th, 2020 by Karen Elford