As Michigan takes measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19, United Way of Midland County is inviting community members to spread happiness through a unique virtual volunteer opportunity.

The opportunity — called “Happy Notes” — allows people to write an encouraging note or make a drawing for seniors, students, healthcare employees or essential workers. McKay Press in Midland will print each Happy Note, then United Way will safely distribute the notes throughout the community.

“We know how hard this social distancing has been, even though we are doing it to protect one another,” said Holly Miller, executive director of United Way of Midland County.

“We are wired for connection and many are feeling isolated and cut-off. Studies show loneliness can be just as detrimental to a person’s health as smoking. Happy Notes are a way to fuel connection in a safe and caring way. People can encourage others from the safety of their own home, while sharing encouragement, kindness and love with their community.”

To create a Happy Note, people can download a template and follow the instructions on United Way’s volunteer portal at

Along with Happy Notes, United Way of Midland County and many others are implementing additional supports in response to growing and emerging needs.

One area that has been identified is meeting the short-term childcare needs for essential workers. Working closely with the Midland County ESA and local childcare providers, United Way will be providing temporary funding to licensed providers for families who need help during the state’s shelter order.

“This helps our local childcare providers to remain open during this crisis and provides critical care for the children of our essential workforce,” shared Miller. “We’re working to ensure there’s care for the children of those caring for us.”

John M. Searles, superintendent of the Midland County ESA, echoed the importance of supporting child care centers during this pandemic.

“Midland County ESA is happy to support area child care centers as they provide care for the children of our critical infrastructure workers,” Searles said.

United Way and the Midland Area Community Foundation continue to work together to identify the continually emerging needs and provide support.

“The essence of community is coming together to help one another. We are so pleased to work together with United Way of Midland County to support our community in this unprecedented time,” said Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation. “It is inspiring to see what can be accomplished when we come together in the spirit of collaboration.”