The pandemic hit Annette Feagin’s family exceptionally hard. At her lowest point — when she was reeling from layoffs and a medical emergency — “I was taking it day by day,” she says, “praying something would come through.”
Something did, in the form of the CARES Coordination Program. Hamilton County commissioners designated $1 million in federal CARES Act money for the program and entrusted United Way to develop it to meet the emergency needs of people affected by COVID-19. The program ran through Dec. 30.
Feagin, 42, lives on Cincinnati’s west side with her two adult children and three grandchildren. She also has temporary custody of two children placed in her care by the Children’s Services Division of Hamilton County Job & Family Services. The five children’s ages range from 4 to 9.
As COVID-19 spread and businesses suffered, both of Feagin’s adult children lost their jobs. After a member of the family was diagnosed with COVID, Feagin had to quarantine and temporarily stop working. She had two jobs; eventually she was laid off from one and went from fulltime to parttime at the other. At that point, eight people were being supported by the income from her parttime job. Then Feagin needed emergency surgery, and she couldn’t work at all.
The stress, she says, was overwhelming.
She called 211, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati helpline. She then received a call from a United Way worker assigned to the CARES Coordination Program, which provided people affected by COVID with meal kits, health kits, and referrals to agencies. Those agencies connected people to services such as rent, mortgage and water bill assistance; employment support; mental health support; and power shutoff prevention.
Feagin’s family received help to pay for rent and utilities. “I’m just thankful we have lights on, we have water, the whole nine yards,” she says. And when the CARES program delivered food to her home less than a week before Christmas, she rejoiced. It was “real food, cooking-type food. Somebody really took the time to go to the grocery store and shop. The help was very much needed and appreciated. I’m very grateful.”
Thanks to a supportive community, in 2020 United Way of Greater Cincinnati was able to help many people like Annette Feagin. In 2021, the work of recovery and revitalization will continue.