Park City nonprofits help Summit County residents cope with COVID-19 restrictions
The recent restrictions on businesses, churches, recreational and cultural venues Summit County announced Sunday as a preventative measure to help slow the spread of COVID-19 has already impacted many hourly workers in town.
While the restrictions are scheduled to end on April 16, local humanitarian nonprofits such as the Park City Community Foundation, Christian Center of Park City and Jewish Family Service are revving up their engines to help any way they can.
Two days before Summit County announced the restrictions, the Park City Community Foundation activated the Community Response Fund, which will quickly deploy financial resources to community-based organizations that are “disproportionately impacted” by the virus and its economic consequences, said executive director Katie Wright.
“The fund is set up to help our community’s most vulnerable population,” Wright said. “These are the people who work hourly, gig-related jobs, and it also includes those in health care who are working to help us through the crisis.”
Park City Community Foundation will create rapid-response grants to critical nonprofits that help with food security, emergency assistance and whatever additional needs that come up in the future, according to Wright.
“If we hear from the hospital, or schools, or other nonprofits such as the People’s Health Clinic or Peace House, we will be prepared to help,” she said. “We also know that many in our nonprofit community already work with vulnerable people every day. So it’s really important that we rely on their expertise to let them do what they do best. That way we won’t set up new systems that will impede help getting to the ones that need it.”
Working with other nonprofits helps the Park City Community Foundation learn about other emerging needs in the area, and Wright said she is keeping her ear to the ground.
“We have folks who represent different nonprofits and key community members who have been convening via conference calls to learn what some of these emerging needs are,” she said. “We will also be serving the whole nonprofit community through brief surveys to make sure we have an idea of what’s coming, because it’s very unpredictable just how this all will impact us.”
The idea for the Community Response Fund was inspired by Park City Community Foundation’s connection with other foundations across the country, Wright said.
“Some of these have experienced crises in the past, and some are feeling the current crisis more acutely,” she said. “So we’re following the best practices in disaster philanthropy.”
The general public can help Park City Community Foundation through donations, so the nonprofit can continue to make the grants as long as it needs to, Wright said.
“In these times the needs are unpredictable, so I would encourage people to really think about their donations of giving general support, because those dollars can be flexible to address new needs in the community,” she said.
Christian Center of Park City
Although the Christian Center of Park City has had to close most of its campus on Deer Valley Drive, its food pantry and counseling service continues to serve the community, said executive director Rob Harter.
“These are the two essential programs, particularly in times of crisis, that we have to make sure are open,” Harter said.
The counseling services will be done in the safest manner possible, according to Harter.
Existing patients can directly contact their therapists, but new patients can contact Heather Ledbetter, the Christian Center’s counseling center administration, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 435-649-2260 ext 1 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the threat of COVID-19 became clear, the Christian Center’s counseling service has been helping community members by answering questions and easing their anxiety, according to Harter.
“Even people who aren’t our regular counseling clients have been asking how they can talk with their children about and deal with the virus,” he said.
Both of the Christian Center’s food pantries in Park City and Heber are open to help those with food insecurity, but there have been some changes that adhere to the Summit County mandate on restaurants, Harter said.
“The food pantries will be handled on a grab-and-go approach,” he said.
Those in need can sign up for the food pantry by visiting ofpc.org and selecting the Park City or Heber link to request the service.
“We will give approved requests up to two-weeks worth of food to minimize the need for them to keep returning to the pantries,” Harter said.
In addition to the counseling and food pantries, the Christian Center also offers another program, the Basic Needs Assistance Fund.
The program helps pay rent, utility and medical bills, according to Harter.
“We have offered this for years now, but I think because of the new situation, this is really important now, because people are already being laid off from work,” he said. “Some people have more than one job, and one or more of their hours have been cut or stopped altogether.”
Applications can be filled out online at ccofpc.org.
“Once a request is made, we run it through our caseworker or social worker and we meet with the applicants by phone or teleconference,” Harter said. “After the requests are approved, we will send the check directly to the apartment manager, power company or clinic.”
While the Christian Center does have funds available for these programs, donations are appreciated, Harter said.
“We definitely would like people to give to our Basic Needs Assistance Fund, because we want to make sure people won’t be evicted or lose their power,” he said. “You can imagine if rents range from $400 to $1,000 a month, that can add up quickly, and if the crisis ends up going longer than a couple of weeks, it can do a lot of damage.”
The Christian Center staff is also calling apartment managers and asking them to give some leniency for those who are struggling to pay rent, Harter said.
“We are letting them know that we will help the folks that have come to us for help,” he said.
People who want to donate to the food pantries can do so by giving money, Harter said.
“We want to reduce exposure points, so opposed to dropping off food, we would ask people to financially support the pantry,” he said. “That will help us keep the operation going, and we can use the money to purchase food in bulk, and also deliver it to the people and families that need it.”
The Christian Center has already received calls from community members who want to help.
“I have been so impressed with people coming out of the woodwork to do this,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see how many people have the heart to give. We’ve had people give who have never given before.”
Jewish Family Service
Jewish Family Service staff met early Monday morning to put some of their service plans in place, said executive director Ellen Silver.
Like the Christian Center of Park City, Jewish Family Service, which is nondenominational, will continue its counseling and food pantry programs, Silver said.
“We can do all of our counseling through the computer or telephone,” she said. “And we have adjusted our food pantry hours in Salt Lake City.”
The food pantry will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day, and the nonprofit is offering curbside pick up for food bags, according to Silver.
“If we need to, we will think of opening up a pantry in Park City, but we know the Christian Center has been doing a great job of covering Summit and Wasatch counties with that,” she said.
In addition, Jewish Family Service is prepared to help people in need, like those facing eviction, suspension of utilities, medical bills and rent upon approval, Silver said.
“I think we’re really prepared, and we understand we have an important role to play in meeting the needs of some vulnerable people out there,” she said. “We’re working hour-by-hour to make sure we are meeting these needs.”
In addition, Jewish Family Service is reaching out to older residents. (See accompanying story).
Still, like the Christian Center and Park City Community Foundation, Jewish Family Service relies on monetary donations to continue these programs, and it is working with other nonprofits such as the Christian Center to expand its ability to help.
“We are collaborating on these cases so we don’t drain either of our resources,” Silver said.
Of course monetary donations always help, she said.
“That money will go to buying food or other basic essentials for the people who need them,” Silver said. “We have a small emergency-assistance fund, and we think it will be tapped in the upcoming weeks.”
To donate to Jewish Family Service, visit jfsutah.org.
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