Marion Community Foundation and United Way of North Central Ohio serving Marion County teamed up to support local pandemic relief and recovery response efforts, awarding more than $40,000 in funding to community organizations.
United Way of North Central Ohio established the Community Relief Fund (CRF) as soon as the first Ohio coronavirus-related shutdowns began in mid-March and immediately began accepting donations from major corporations, local businesses, and generous individuals. At the same time, leadership at Marion Community Foundation determined their best path for providing local pandemic relief was to partner with United Way of North Central Ohio and support the existing United Way fund.
The first applications for CRF grants were received on March 30, with the initial wave of funds being distributed in early April to programs that included emergency shelter services, food pantries and distribution services, and funds for PPE and emergency supplies for local health departments. Programs providing childcare services for essential workers and virtual visits for seniors in nursing homes were also funded in the first wave.
As the local response focus shifts from emergency relief to long-term recovery, grant applicants are providing families with employment and financial services, mental health counseling, and legal services, while continuing to meet the immediate demands for food, shelter, and emergency funds. In May, the UWNCO Community Relief Fund transitioned to the Community Recovery Fund.
As Marion Community Foundation’s 2020 Community Grants Program got underway, the Foundation identified applicants whose funding needs were directly tied to the coronavirus pandemic and/or the resulting shutdown and fiscal effects. Its grants committee, chaired by retired ADAMH director Jody Demo-Hodgins, reviewed 68 applications from 55 local charities, totaling $2.1 million in requests. They forwarded to United Way eight projects that qualified as pandemic response projects for Community Recovery Fund consideration.
“Several of our Community Grants Program applications were for projects and causes in Marion that were clearly due to the pandemic’s impact,” said Julie Prettyman, vice president and director of programs at Marion Community Foundation. “We were glad that the staff of United Way concurred and were able to offer support.”
“We value our partnership with Marion Community Foundation and appreciate the opportunity to work together to help meet the needs of the community. Because the Foundation’s application and evaluation process mirrors ours, applicants didn’t have to complete a separate form to apply with us as well,” said Leslie Schneider, Resource Development Director for United Way of North Central Ohio.
In all, Community Recovery Fund awards in the amount of $42,500 were made to eight local organizations through this Marion Community Foundation | United Way of North Central Ohio collaboration. Funds were awarded for legal and financial assistance to renters and homeowners facing eviction; mental health and stress reduction; access to food staples, fresh produce, and clothing; and emergency housing, as well as for operating expenses for organizations suffering revenue loss.
Grant recipients include:
- Center Street Community Health Center will receive funding for an “Access to Glasses” project to provide assistance with purchasing eyeglasses for those who cannot afford them.
- The Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Ohio Heartland Community Action Commission partnered to seek support for an eviction prevention program for Marion. Their grant from United Way’s Community Recovery Fund will help provide legal and financial assistance to low income renters and homeowners to help keep them in their homes during the pandemic.
- Logos Ministries saw an expanded need for fresh produce in the community due to the health crisis. They will receive a grant to help stock the Logos Produce Pantry in Marion.
- Marion Area Counseling Center identified a need to address both health and economic stress among Marion residents. A CRF grant will enable them to begin therapeutic renovations at MACC and increase capacity for a therapeutic environment to help alleviate stress and impact patient healing.
- Marion County Special Olympics will use their grant to continue to offer its sports programs for area developmentally disabled citizens and provide stipends for highly trained and qualified basketball coaches for Special Olympics athletes.
- Social distancing and isolation requirements related to the Covid-19 outbreak are especially challenging for homeless individuals and the shelter system trying to assist them. United Way has provided Marion Shelter Program with operational funding to help cover the cost to house and provide services for Marion County residents who use the local emergency homeless shelters.
- With a reduction in donations and volunteers, the St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Pantry on N. Main St. will use its grant to continue to provide nutrition for those in need of Marion County.
- Considered a community gem, the Marion Palace Theatre has been severely impacted by the pandemic closures and has experienced significant lost revenue. Their application to Marion Community Foundation’s grants program resulted in awards from both United Way and an additional grant from Marion Community Foundation’s Wopat Community Fund.
In addition, Marion Community Foundation’s grants committee recommended awards, over and above the CRF grants, to Center Street Community Health Center and Marion Area Counseling Center.
Grants from United Way’s Community Recovery Fund and Annual Campaign Fund are awarded separately, with separate application and reporting requirements. Donations to the Community Recovery Fund are only used for local pandemic relief and recovery response and are not part of the Annual Campaign.
Applications for Community Recovery Fund grants continue to be accepted on a rolling basis, with no application deadline, and are evaluated every 60 days by United Way’s Ad Hoc Allocation Committee, with award decisions and funding to follow. Grant awards will continue to be made so long as there are funds in the UWNCO Community Recovery Fund. The application is available online here or call United Way at 740-383-3108.
Donations to the United Way Community Recovery Fund may be made at unitedwaynco.org/donate-now or text COMMUNITYRECOVERY to 41444.