The last month has been a wild ride! Since we opened the COVID-19 special relief fund on March 18th, we have raised a little over $31,000 and given out $27,000. We expect to give out the remaining $4,000 by the end of next week. Our goal when we opened this emergency fund was to fill the gap for people who lost work because of COVID-19 closures while unemployment and other long-term funds came online, and we had expected to only be running this for a few weeks or a month. But given the difficulties with unemployment, we decided to keep going. Now that people are finally getting unemployment and state and federal dollars are available through other nonprofits, we feel we’ve done what we set out to do and will be closing this emergency fund next Friday, May 1st to new applications. That will be 45 straight days of providing financial support and we’re proud of the work we’ve done. We’re also ready to transition to working on projects that support multiple people at once.
To that end, we are thrilled to announce our Little Free Pantry project! We originally set aside funds for this early last year, but it’s turned out to be quite timely. Local contractor and woodworker extraordinaire Nick Carr has built Little Free Pantries for us to share with the neighborhood. We will be donating three to Old North End residences and then subsidizing half the cost of four more for residences anywhere in Burlington. More information and the application is online now.
Partnerships are the lifeblood of relief work and we are going to continue to support grassroots groups by serving as their fiscal sponsor, free of charge, so they can access foundation dollars. We became a 501c3 partly to provide structure and support for small groups and that has turned out to be very necessary these days. We’ve provided fiscal sponsorship for three groups so far, and are going to partner with the Food Relief Project, organized by Will Clavelle, that is purchasing groceries and getting them to local restaurants, who then cook meals that are distributed to nonprofits in Burlington, who are getting them out to their clients. We will be providing both fiscal sponsorship and funding to this excellent resource. We have also been partnering with the Old North End Arts & Business Association and Mascoma Bank to get gift cards at local ethnic markets to New American families who don’t have access to culturally appropriate food. It’s been a win-win of getting money to businesses and getting resources to folks who need them.
It’s been a heck of a month and a half for this small, all-volunteer organization, but it’s been a gift to be able to help in any way we can. We look forward to continue to organize and fund relief efforts for the next few months at least, while also filling grant requests through our main individual good deed and neighborhood projects funds as always.