Christian Center has paid $452,000 to pay for locals’ basic needs during the pandemic
The Christian Center of Park City has been busy assisting local residents who need help getting through layoffs and other work-related challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit has helped more than 830 families who live in Summit and Wasatch counties pay more than 1,179 bills, including rent and utilities, to tune of $452,000 from its Basic Needs Assistance fund since March 12, according to Executive Director Rob Harter.
Harter said the Christian Center will pass the $500,000 mark because a majority of those 830 families still need help with their bills. Many didn’t qualify for a stimulus check from the federal government, or their breadwinners have been laid off or had their hours cut.
“We’ve already helped them with one round of payments for rent and utility assistance, and we’re halfway through a second round of payments,” he said. “We want to give everyone at least two rounds of help.”
When the COVID-19 shutdown started in March, the Christian Center made a goal to pay between $400 to $500 per family from the fund, and since then the average payment has been $475 per family per round, he said.
“Our goal is to give them as much as we can for as much as they need,” he said.
After the second round of payments are distributed, the Christian Center will reassess and see if it can do a third round, according to Harter.
“It all depends on how much money we have,” he said. “We know there are places that have started to open again, and some people have gone back to work. But they aren’t working full-time hours. Some are only working 20 hours or 15 hours. They aren’t getting a full paycheck, so this is still a big need.”
Donations are always welcome to help replenish the Basic Needs Assistance Fund, and since March donors have given more than $690,000, Harter said.
Part of that sum included a matching grant from an unnamed Parkite.
“He reached out to us and offered $50,000 in matching donations,” Harter said. “Although he lives in Park City, he wanted to make sure his money would benefit people who lived in Wasatch County.”
Another big donation came from the Most Vulnerable Fund, which was set up by three Park City residents — Jack Rubin, Steve Maxwell and John “J.W.” Wells. (See accompanying story).
The money from that fund goes specifically to local residents who are in the most danger of losing housing, Harter said.
“The three of them to date have donated $200,000 to us,” he said. “They initiated the whole thing.”
In addition to monetary donations, the Christian Center of Park City is collecting nonperishable food items for its food pantries in Park City and Heber.
“During the first week of COVID-19, an average of 1,000 people would visit our food pantries each week, and almost 40 percent of those had never used our food pantries before,” he said.
Since then, the food pantry visits have tapered off due to reduction of the area’s seasonal-worker population, Harter explained.
“During the first part of COVID, many seasonal workers from Argentina, Paraguay and Peru weren’t able to go home because their countries had shut down,” he said. “Since then, some have been able to return home, but there are still some who haven’t.”
On top of food and money, the Christian Center is also accepting donations of hygiene products, including diapers, toilet tissue and feminine supplies, Harter said.
“A couple of weeks ago the Park City Rotary Club hosted a hygiene drive and collected everything from personal hygiene kits, toothpaste, toothbrushes and shampoo,” he said. “We still need those types of items, and we’re also accepting clothes and furniture as well.”
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