Nevada County Relief Fund provides real relief to those in need
- Interfaith Food Ministry of Nevada County, $20,000
- FREED Center for Independent Living, $20,000
- Food Bank of Nevada County, $20,000
- Gold Country Community Services, $10,200
- Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, $10,000
- The Booth Family Center, $8,150
- Sierra Roots, $6,650
- Community Beyond Violence, $7,500
- Child Advocates, $7,500
There is no doubt that the stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Newsom in March to combat the spread of COVID-19 created economic hardship here in Nevada County and throughout the state. Desiring to do something to help our local businesses and nonprofit organizations, the Nevada County Relief Fund was launched on April 14, 2020. Backed by a $100,000 “challenge grant” from the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the community quickly responded with donations to the Relief Fund. Half of the money raised will go to the frontline safety net nonprofits in western Nevada County, who are providing a life line to our neighbors most in need. The other half will support local small businesses and nonprofits countywide with micro-grants to help cover key expenses until they reopen or resume normal operations.
Due to the generosity of the community and the Board of Supervisors, the Nevada County Relief Fund announced the first round of grant awards on May 29, 2020, totaling $210,000 boosting eight “safety-net” nonprofits in western Nevada County as well as the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation in eastern Nevada County, and twenty-eight small businesses from throughout the county heavily impacted by COVID-19.
The Nevada County Relief Fund is still seeking donations from the community to do a second round of grant funding. If you are able, please consider giving to this wonderful resource that has already helped so many struggling in our community.
Helping the Helpers
Food Bank of Nevada County
One of the nine nonprofits to receive a Nevada County Relief Fund grant was the Food Bank of Nevada County, who saw a dramatic increase in the need for their services during the shutdown. Prior to COVID-19, the organization would provide food to an average of 2,200 individuals each month. As soon as COVID took place and the shelter in place order went into effect, the organization suddenly was serving 3,000 individuals each WEEK.
“Thankfully we had a lot of stuff stored and ready to go; we have a warehouse but this cleaned us out, we went through so much food,” said Nicole McNeely, Executive Director of The Food Bank of Nevada County. “We’re a small operation with only five on staff. We were working seven days a week from sunup to sundown, and we managed to get it done.”
Due to the unprecedented increase in demand, which has leveled off at around 1900/week, the Food Bank has had to scale up and streamline their operation. Because of COVID, the donations decreased just as the demand increased, and the regulations for food distribution have become more stringent. Whereas the organization used to collect food from the community in barrels at local food stores, they can now only utilize food from large USDA and UNFI distribution centers, which have also been hard hit by the shelter in place fallout.
The way the distributions are done has changed, as well. Now, staff and volunteers prepack bags and boxes that people can drive through to pick up, instead of the old distribution model of standing in line and picking what they want from tables of available food. This allows the staff to ensure that they can evenly distribute the food available to all who need it in a safe and fair way. The drive-thru format is also more comfortable for those who are using the Food Bank for the first time in their lives. “There’s nothing shameful about needing help at times. We hope that people feel like they are in their mom’s kitchen. I don’t want people to ever go hungry or feel like they’ll be okay on their last can of beans. It’s just food, we’re not giving away trips to Disneyland,” said McNelley.
The Food Bank of Nevada County received $20,000 from the Relief Fund, which has allowed them to increase access through a new grocery delivery program to our most vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens who cannot drive to a Food Bank distribution event. The Food Bank is partnering with FREED, a Nevada County nonprofit whose mission is to promote independence and self-determination for people with disabilities through person-driven services, collaborative community partnerships and education, and leadership that advocates for fully inclusive communities. FREED does the interview and intake process, and then the Food Bank facilitates the program in its entirety with a program coordinator; purchasing food, doing outreach, procuring equipment to keep the food safe during travel, reimbursement of fuel for volunteer drivers, and background checks. “We are so thankful to the Relief Fund for making that happen,” McNeeley said. “I want people to know we are here for them to keep good nutrition and good health whenever they may need us.”
To learn more about the Food Bank of Nevada County, or to donate or volunteer, visit foodbankofnc.org.
Community Beyond Violence
Another worthy cause that received $7,500 from the Relief Fund was Community Beyond Violence (CBV), whose mission is to offer resources for building healthy relationships and to work with community partners to provide services for healing the effects of interpersonal violence, including domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
According to BBC News, domestic violence has increased by at least 20% worldwide during the COVID lockdown, and CBV Executive Director Stephanie Fischer says that she and her staff were surprised that for the first month they did not see the spike in calls that they had expected. That was when they realized that while the abuse was likely increased, those being abused could not call for help or come to the CBV office because they were locked inside their homes with their abuser.
The funding that CBV received from the Relief Fund has allowed them to innovate new ways to reach domestic violence victims by implementing a chat line on their website and a text line, so if they can’t get away to come to the CBV office or if calling is not a safe way to reach out, there are new options available. “We needed to find a way to let people know we were still open and available. 90% of our budget comes from state and federal grants but they only pay for certain things. We had to change and pivot; had to research the safest way to offer services online, how to sign consent waivers online, there were a lot of things that we had to figure out,” Fischer explained.
The new accessibility has been working, since sadly, for the past month CBV has seen the spike in request for services that they had expected from the very beginning. The demand for emergency shelter has doubled, and the crisis line calls have been filled with horrifying stories; so much so that the staff members need a lot more time to debrief because the calls are more extreme.
“We are having a lot more people call and come in and we are so glad that people are able to access our services,” Fischer said. “We are so grateful to the Relief Fund. At the beginning of COVID-19 we were connecting with our agency support network across the state, and other counties were talking about their community foundations, and we did not have one. It was only a month later that Relief Fund was set up and people were donating; I am thoroughly impressed with how quickly the community responded to the need and gave generously to make sure our organizations and small businesses are taken care of.”
If you are suffering from domestic violence or human trafficking and cannot make a call, visit cbv.org and go to the chat option at the top of the page, or text them at 530-290-6555 for support that way. Services for emergency housing are available. If you want to donate go to the website or send a check to 960 McCourtney Rd E, Grass Valley, CA 95949. Or you can text community2020 to 44321.
The Nevada County Relief Fund is currently seeking donations for the second round of grants to be distributed in July. Their goal is to raise $500,000 by July 4, and they are currently at $388,788. All donations are tax-deductible. Help to make a difference in your community by visiting nevcorelief.org. A small donation goes a long way.
This is Vadi, who is a homeless participant and talented musician. He always plays the piano during lunches held at First Community Church in Nevada City. In the next few weeks, Sierra Roots will be…
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