The Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund: Seniors & Low-Income Parents Are Fund’s First Recipients
by Alison Bailey
As our community continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, two organizations have come together to create the Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund in support of vital nonprofits and vulnerable families. United Way of Thurston County (UWTC) and Community Foundation of South Puget Sound (CFSPS) launched the fund on March 16 and immediately received an influx of donations made by generous community members and businesses. To date, the fund is already positively impacting nonprofit groups whose existence might otherwise be threatened by the sudden economic changes brought on by the pandemic. In addition, on March 23 the fund was able to start providing assistance to families with children impacted by the pandemic.
Meals on Wheels Doubles Delivery
Senior Services of South Sound (SSS) helps seniors in Thurston, Mason and Lewis counties stay active, connected and well-fed. Their Meals on Wheels program ensures that all seniors have access to at least one complete, nutritious meal per day. With almost all of our community’s seniors now isolated in their homes, the need for this service has skyrocketed at the same time SSS has had to discontinue its regular fundraising activities such as bingo nights.
“The money that this fund has made available fills a critical, rapidly-growing gap in our funding,” explains Brian Windrope, Executive Director at SSS. In the third week of March alone, the number of meals SSS delivered doubled from 700 to 1,400. Windrope anticipates the need will continue grow. As SSS team members deliver meals, they find more seniors who need and want to enroll in the program because they can no longer leave their homes to grocery shop and their families might not live in the area to deliver supplies. Windrope emphasizes his gratitude for the combined efforts of UWTC and CFSPS on behalf of his team and the individuals they serve and the many donors who have contributed to the fund.
Baby Wipes & Formula
The Nurse-Family Partnership program (NFP) has also benefited from the new fund. NFP pairs registered nurses with first-time parents in low-income circumstances. Their clients represent some of the families who will be hit hardest by this crisis. As of Monday, March 23, disbursements from the fund have procured 284 containers of infant formula and 216 packages of baby wipes, thanks to our corporate partner, Costco. They are working to source 400 packages of diapers and 300 jars of baby food that will be delivered in compliance with social distancing recommendations by NFP’s visiting nurses.
Organizations that help our low-income and unsheltered population will also benefit from the new funding source. The Community Action Council helps low-income community members cover basic expenses such a rent and utilities, while Catholic Community Services and Interfaith Works provide meals and hygiene supplies to our unsheltered and food-insecure community members. All three organizations have already received financial support from the new fund.
You can be a part of this movement. Please make a donation online through United Way of Thurston County’s website, www.unitedway-thurston.org/covid-19 or by mail to United Way of Thurston County, 3525 7th Ave SW Suite 201, Olympia, WA 98502.