It is in times like this that the giving nature of our community unites us in ways that will save lives. By design, Community Foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. With the support of many generous donors, and in collaboration with our community partners, we are able to act quickly to meet the most urgent needs of our neighbors.
Thanks to many wonderful community members who have already donated over $350,000 to our COVID-19 Local Response Fund, from which we have already committed over $332,500 to meet the most urgent needs of our neighbors.
With the assistance of our community partners, we quickly identified the following priorities to begin addressing immediately through this Fund:
- We believe that no resident should be without adequate shelter and the ability to isolate them self during this pandemic. That is not a concern for many residents. For others, particularly residents who have lost their jobs or are homeless, this is a daily concern. Therefore, we have already committed $117,000 to help ensure that residents in need have assistance with rent and mortgage payments, and that those who are without a home have shelter and space to protect their health. To accomplish this we are partnering with the Salvation Army units in Staunton and Waynesboro, Valley Mission, Valley Community Services Board, and Sin Barreras (Without Barriers). We are also appreciative of Mary Baldwin University for providing emergency housing for residents of the Valley Mission.
Access to Food
- Due to widespread layoffs, far more community members than normal are seeking assistance from food pantries in order to provide for their families. Additionally, the need for social distancing places food-insecure residents at great risk. As a result, we have already dedicated $54,500 to assist the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Disciples’ Kitchen, and a partnership between Augusta Health, Allegheny Mountain Institute, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Valley Program for Aging Services working together to purchase and distribute fresh produce and shelf-stable food supplies through existing food pantries for all residents in need, and through Meals on Wheels for the most food-insecure senior citizens in our community.
Assistance with Personal Expenses
- In partnership with many nonprofit organizations, we have already provided over $33,000 to assist families in need of assistance with general household expenses to help them manage their limited financial resources.
Access to Childcare
- The combination of the closure of schools and the need for social distancing has created a unique challenge to our community’s childcare system. While many parents are now working from home, others are considered “essential workers” and must find suitable childcare in order to report to their workplace. Therefore, we have committed $22,500 in partnership with the Waynesboro Family YMCA and Highland Children’s House to ensure that parents who are essential workers have access to affordable childcare.
Attending to our Mental Wellbeing
- The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has strained our community in many ways, including the mental and emotional health of our residents. For many people, these circumstances complicate pre-existing mental health challenges and addictions. The pandemic is likely to also result in widespread traumatic stress. Therefore, we dedicated over $22,000 to support the work of Valley Hope Counseling Center, ARROW Project, and Valley Pastoral Counseling Center, each of which has transitioned to telehealth counseling and pledged to continue offering affordable care for our community.
Emergency medical care
- In partnership with Augusta Health, we have provided assistance to Augusta Expo for their role in our region’s Emergency Operations Plan. Augusta Health will utilize Augusta Expo in the event of a surge in patient volume. Although we share everyone’s hope that this use of Augusta Expo is not necessary, our community needs for that facility to be ready for that purpose. We have also assisted Augusta Health with their preparation of isolation kits for residents who are awaiting COVID-19 test results and/or have tested positive.
Supporting our Small Businesses
- The owners and employees of small businesses throughout our community are suffering greatly. Therefore, when F&M Bank asked us how they could assist small business owners, we chose to partner with the Staunton Creative Community Fund (SCCF). Thanks to a $25,000 commitment from F&M Bank, which includes a $15,000 grant from our F&M Bank Community Fund, SCCF has created a loan and loan forgiveness program for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Additionally, we provided the Highland County Chamber of Commerce with a grant of $25,000 to continue their service to the Highland County community having a significant source of their revenue when the pandemic required the cancellation of the annual Maple Festival.
- In partnership with the United Way, we provided $10,000 for the creation of 100 reopening kits for our region’s nonprofit organizations. Our community needs the services of these organizations, but we also want them to reopen safely for their staff and clients. The reopening kits include a supply of disposable face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and information on how to reopen safely. We are also beginning to support the special needs of individual nonprofit organizations for their reopening, such as securing a wheelchair-accessible mobile restroom and wash station for Dare to Dream Therapeutic Horsemanship Center.
We are gathering additional information and contributions every day in order to meet community needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also committed to adjusting those priorities as conditions evolve. Currently, we are identifying those residents for whom community-wide strategies have fallen short and working with partners to get aid to them as quickly as possible.
We are also actively planning for additional phases of relief efforts in the coming months.
Please consider joining us in this fight to ensure the well-being of all community members during this crisis. Donate Now!