The numbers are in: more than $238 million was raised for a massive relief fund

By almost any measure, 2020 was a terrible year. A global pandemic. Economic downturn. Racial injustice. In a year like this, it's easy to lose sight of the good. Despite all the challenges and heartache this year, there was still good to be found. I count myself lucky to have had a front row seat to one of the year's best good news stories: the massive outpouring of solidarity and support for the global COVID-19 response being led by the World Health Organization (WHO). People around the world stepped up to help people they've never met, in places they've never been -- in a big way.


More than 650,000 people from just about every country in the world -- together with hundreds of companies and philanthropies -- raised more than $238 million to support the WHO's pandemic response. To put that in perspective, that is the second largest source of financial resources for WHO's COVID-19 response, behind only the government of Germany. The funds were raised through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO, which the UN Foundation helped launch in March to offer individuals, companies, and private organizations a way to directly support the WHO-led response. We at the UN Foundation have been completely blown away by the breadth of supporters and the depth of their generosity.

A woman in Ireland, Karen Forde, launched a squats challenge to drive donations to the Fund. She did about 2,000 squats herself -- which is downright impressive -- and personally matched donations up to €1,000. Joshua "DiMez" DiMezza, a cancer survivor and devoted video gamer, got the online gaming community involved. By live-streaming his games over Facebook Gaming, he raised tens of thousands of dollars from his followers. Even celebrities -- from Matthew Perry, to Post Malone, to Queen and Adam Lambert -- used their platforms to garner support for the Fund. And in April, the global One World: Together at Home broadcast raised millions, with Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones among the musicians who performed. Jimmy Fallon and Lady Gaga even Face-timed Apple CEO TimCook live on-air to ask the company to donate -- and it did. But Apple wasn't the only company that stepped up -- far from it. Facebook and Google offered matching donations and companies as diverse as TikTok, Adidas, GSK, and FIFA all contributed.

People around the world gave what they could despite the economic uncertainty. The average individual donation was about $60, and comments left by donors on the Facebook fundraiser show what solidarity looks like. People left heartwarming messages in multiple languages, thanking frontline workers and writing, "we are in this together," and "let's help each other and save lives."

Everyone who donated made a difference because every dollar counted. Solidarity drove this Fund. And quickly getting donated dollars to WHO and partners like the World Food Programme, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF mean that solidarity has delivered help to those most in need. And I do mean that literally. In the critical early days of the pandemic, WHO and the WorldFood Programme teamed up to ship millions of items of essential supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) and diagnostic kits to some of the hardest hit areas. Carried by cargo planes, these became known as "Solidarity Flights" -- the first of which delivered enough supplies to help frontline workers care for over 30,000 patients across Africa.

By late spring, thanks to the Fund's support, they were able to rebuild a sophisticated global supply chain effort that has since distributed hundreds of millions of units of PPE and other supplies to 170 countries. And in Lebanon, a Syrian refugee by the name of Midia Said Sido learned how to make soap in her kitchen at home. Through a training course offered by the UN Refugee Agency and made possible with support from the Fund, Sido has been making soap for her family and neighbors -- helping her community stay healthy and slow the spread of the virus. In a refugee camp in Kenya, a pregnant woman named Eliana was able to continue receiving prenatal care throughout the pandemic thanks to the UN Refugee Agency. They were able to keep the local hospital open and ensure maternal health services continued uninterrupted with Fund support. In October, Eliana gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Christena. There are countless more stories like Sido and Eliana's, countless more people who have received life-saving assistance thanks to the kindness and profound generosity of donors from190 different countries who have chipped in. The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund represents humanity at its very best. And it's a powerful reminder that even in the darkest of times, we can count on solidarity to see us through.

Kate Dodson is Vice President for Global Health at the UN Foundation.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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