Christian Center thankful for the Most Vulnerable Fund, which has raised $200,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic
A couple of weeks into the COVID-19 shutdown initiated by the Summit County Health Department, three Park City residents reached out to their friends to raise money that would help community members who have been hit hard with layoffs and reduced hours make ends meet.
By April 8, Steve Maxwell and Jack Rubin, two local retirees, and John “J.W.” Wells of KPCW, had raised more than $100,000 of what would become the Most Vulnerable Fund.
A few days later that fund would become a large part of the Christian Center of Park City’s Basic Needs Assistance Fund, which helps local residents pay rent, utilities and other bills that keep roofs over their heads, said Executive Director Rob Harter.
“They heard about the need for people who lost their jobs or weren’t working much who would not qualify for unemployment or receive a stimulus check,” Harter said. “The fear at that time was that people across the board would be evicted, and they wanted to generate some support financially from some of their friends who live in Park City.”
The initial goal to raise $200,000 was attained last week, Harter said.
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“It’s been enjoyable to see them get excited and own this effort and help us help people pay rent,” he said. “It’s inspiring to my staff and me when people in the community have a desire to help and then come to us with an idea that will work alongside our programs.”
Rubin credits friends for raising the money for the Most Vulnerable Fund.
“Steve, J.W. and I initially reached out to 100 donors, and I think we knew 90 percent of them personally,” he said.
The three sent off letters explaining what they were doing and then followed up with phone calls.
“Typically asking people for money is pretty icky, but things were a little different this time,” he said. “In fact, many of our phone calls lasted less than a minute, because our friends understood the need and felt it was a compassionate and right thing to do.”
Since most of the people who would benefit from the Most Vulnerable Fund work in the local hospitality and ski industries, some of the trio’s friends took a more pragmatic approach to why they donated to the fund, Rubin said.
“They told us if Park City was to come back to be the premiere destination resort that it has been all of these years, the most vulnerable people who work these service positions will be needed,” he said. “So, asking for money for this cause turned out to not be icky. And we continue to be absolutely blown away from the generosity. It’s been really incredible.”
Like many Park City residents, Rubin knew a little bit about the Christian Center, and had wandered into its clothing boutique a couple of times.
“Regardless, I didn’t know their mission and I didn’t know about the Basic Needs Assistance program,” he said. “Once I found out about it, I knew it was the perfect fit of what we were going to try to do.”
Before COVID-19 the Basic Needs Assistance Fund helped an average of 30 families per month, and the budget for 2020 was $160,000, according to Harter.
The need has grown exponentially, and so far, the Christian Center has paid $452,000 to help 830 families, he said.
Rubin is happy and humbled that the Most Vulnerable Fund has helped with this cause.
“One hundred percent of every dollar goes to those who need help with rent, utilities and what it takes to keep roofs over people’s heads,” he said. “We are still accepting donations, and we remain very much active. I think there is a boatload more potential, and it requires others with different networks to join up. We would love to work with others who find this an attractive way to help those around town.”
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