The United Way has always been a source for the community, but will be even more so now, after the order to close all restaurants, bars and breweries came down this week.

CEO Susan Hay Patrick made the announcement introducing a new fund created for the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are pledging any contributions for the foreseeable future to our emergency and disaster fund to go to a fund to help those displaced workers, people without health care or access to health care and our nonprofit partners,” said Hay Patrick. “We are concerned about the effects of the pandemic on our most vulnerable people. All those people who serve us, take our tickets and serve our drinks. Those folks are temporarily out of work or working greatly reduced hours and are most likely no to have any savings to fall back on.”

Hay Patrick said the mechanism for workers to begin receiving those contributions should be in place this week.

“Within the next 24 hours we’ll be announcing a protocol in which people can apply for assistance,” she said. “We of course want to make sure that we are getting those funds to those who need it most. While we will have a low barrier application, we will of course be screening people. As you know, every disaster brings out not only the best in people there will always be some without legitimate needs and we want to ensure that we’re being responsible with the allocations. Missoula United Way dot org is our website and there’s a COVID 19 button that they can click to donate.”

Hay Patrick detailed how displaced workers can apply for the funds that the public will donate.

“We will be administering our fund through 2-1-1, which is our community’s information and referral line. They’ll call 2-1-1 and a trained operator will take their information, and we will be in touch.”

All funds will help support service workers temporarily out of work or working greatly reduced hours, those without access to health care, and trusted nonprofit partners that work closely with populations most at risk.