Foundation activates emergency fund to support nonprofits

by Whitefish Pilot
| March 24, 2020 11:52 AM

The Whitefish Community Foundation’s Board of Directors has activated a Community Emergency Response Fund to support local nonprofits that are helping those directly impacted by the coronavirus.

Funding will address the unexpected needs impacting our local families. As a preparedness measure, the community foundation has committed an initial $150,000 to this fund and additional funding is already coming in.

“We anticipate the community need may be significantly greater and we call on the public for additional donations to this fund,” said Linda Engh-Grady, foundation president. When needed, the foundation will rapidly deploy grants from this program to enable nonprofits the ability to focus on providing vital assistance and preparing for frontline services to address the coronavirus affecting Whitefish and surrounding communities.

The preemptive steps that are being taken ahead of the onset of coronavirus demonstrate the community’s strong partnerships and resiliency, the foundation noted in a release. The foundation will make resources quickly available and not burden nonprofit organizations on the frontlines of the pandemic with a formal application process. Funds will be released on a rolling basis as fundraising continues.

“We stand together in this situation. We know many families will be affected with unforeseen hardships due to school closures, social distancing, financial instability and voluntary self-isolation,” Engh-Grady said.

The community foundation last week had already rapidly deployed $70,000 in emergency funding to the following organizations:

• North Valley Food Bank/Flathead Food Bank: $20,000 to purchase semi load of nonperishable food items due to increased demand for food.

• Flathead Food Bank: $10,000 to fund weekly food bags for school districts, move to curbside pick up, add separate pick up times for seniors, and work on home delivery for at-risk customers.

• North Valley Food Bank: $10,000 to fund restaurant ready-made meals program to distribute to those in need.

• Farm Hands/Nourish the Flathead: $10,000 to provide food for weekly food bag program in Columbia Falls while students on reduced or free lunch are out of school.

• Sparrow’s Nest of NW Montana: $7,500 to fund additional staff to cover expanded hours due to school closure.

• Warming Center: $2,500 to fund sleeping bags and tents for homeless individuals due to shelter closing.

• Abbie Shelter and Violence Free Crisis Line: $10,000 to fund increased staffing and support for eight weeks due to increased clients and assist clients with homelessness prevention costs.

For more information on making a donation to the COVID-19 Community Emergency Response Fund, visit whitefishcommunityfoundation.org or call Linda Engh-Grady at 406-863-1781. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1060, Whitefish, Montana 59937.

Nonprofits should contact Lynnette Donaldson at contact@whitefishcommunityfoundation.org for questions and assistance on how to apply for funding.