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A Return to Normal

A Return to Normal


We don’t want to go back to normal.


We are ready to end sheltering in place when it is safe to do so. We are ready to spend time with family and friends. We are anticipating being able to appear in public without face masks and other PPE when it is safe to do so.


But we do not want to go back to what we called “normal”.


Normal means 16 % of Alpena households in poverty and an additional 28% classified as ALICE households. Normal has 44% of our households struggling to make ends meet. These numbers are not any better for Alcona (44%) or Montmorency (52%). Normal means many children are not entering school prepared to learn. Normal means grandparents and retirees having to make the difficult decision to pay for food or pay for medication. Normal means our homeless population goes unsheltered and often unfed.


We are all craving “normal” right now. We’d like to propose a new normal.


We are all in this together 


Pivotal moments in life have a way of giving us pause, encouraging introspection and helping us remember there is so much to be thankful for – and so much more we can do. The COVID-19 pandemic is indeed a pivotal moment. It is even more extraordinary because each one of us separately and jointly are experiencing this together. At United Way of Northeast Michigan, “together” is all we know. It is our model – we connect, people, resources and ideas- but most importantly, it is our passion. Every day since 1955, we have not wavered in our commitment to uniting the right solutions with the right community partners to fight whatever issue is facing Northeast Michigan. This has never changed and will never change. Because we are all in this together.


United Way was created out of crisis over 100 years ago after migration to cities for employment began taking a toll on our health and well-being.  At the time, health and human service organizations were, for the most part, nonexistent. United Way helped make many of the services that exist today possible. The good news and bad news is United Way, nationally and in Northeast Michigan, has navigated many crisis in our storied history. The Great Depression. Wars. Weather disasters. 9/11. AIDS and OPIOD epidemics. These crisis happened on national and international scales, but we felt the effects here locally – right here in our schools, in our hospital, in our neighborhoods, in our homes and in our living rooms. Each time, United Way learns to do more and do better. We must. We know response must be strong and immediate, which is why with swift action our Board of Directors established the Emergency Response Relief Fund. To date, with our generous corporate partners, foundations and individual donors we have raised nearly $50,000 and distributed more than $28,000 directly to our frontline emergency responders. 


Looking forward to the “new normal”


We know with great crisis can come great opportunity. As we learn to connect, work and think differently, we should also learn to invest in and support each other differently.


If you are a first responder, we thank you. If you are social distancing and wearing a mask when in public, we thank you. And for those able to make a donation to United Way, we also thank you.


This is our challenge together and our duty as we re-envision what Northeast Michigan can be. We challenge ourselves and you to really “Live United”.


Shari & Joe

United Way of Northeast Michigan