COVID-19 hit us all suddenly last March. The impacts, in a small community like Telluride and our neighboring towns, caused multiple levels of distress and crisis not only regarding our health, but for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits.
We want to reflect on how we met this challenge over the last seven months. Although we believe we did our part, we do not think, by any means, that we are done. The work continues. We will continue to be persistent and tenacious to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community and provide leadership moving forward.
In mid-March, the Telluride Foundation established the COVID-19 Response Fund, expanded the eligibility and reach of the Good Neighbor financial assistance program to ensure access to those disproportionately impacted by COVID, and created an emergency grants pool for healthcare, food assistance, volunteer organizing, and internet access organizations. To date, the Foundation has raised over $1,150,000 for the Response Fund, distributing $320,000 in emergency grants to organizations and $628,000 in Good Neighbor cash assistance for rent, food, medicine, and mental health support to 435 individuals and families.
We are very proud of the donors, staff, and board who set the stage for a sustained response, allowing us to do our part:
- March 16, the Foundation staff immediately pivoted to assess critical human needs and then, implement a plan to respond to these community needs.
- The Executive Committee meet monthly to monitor the crisis and direct resources.
- Formed an Emergency Grants Committee for rapid decision-making, responding to health and human service nonprofit needs, usually within 24 hours.
- Provided emergency grants to organizations addressing COVID impacts through healthcare, food assistance, volunteer organizing, and internet access.
- Provided Good Neighbor hardship assistance grants to the most vulnerable in our community.
- Added mental health services as a potential need that could be funded by Good Neighbor assistance.
- In partnership with Tri-County Heath Network staff, coupled Good Neighbor hardship grants with bilingual/bicultural staff navigation to assist clients in accessing government and community support and programs.
- Deployed staff to become experts on the federal CARES Act, disseminating information and providing technical assistance to nonprofits and for-profits. Staff initiated and hosted weekly resource calls for nonprofits and for-profit leaders to share best practices and information
- Deployed staff to become experts on new federal and state unemployment benefits for employers and employees, disseminating information and providing technical assistance for nonprofit and for-profits.
- Became a clearinghouse for regular and clear information on fundraising resources, critical human needs, and community based news.
- Tri-County Health Network led expanded outreach efforts and events around mental health, suicide prevention, food resources, while at the same time assisting with the Census for our hard to reach neighbors.
- Led a collaboration with Tri-County Health Network and five regional school districts to launch COVID-19 baseline and on-going testing for school staff.
With your help, we are doing our part, and we will continue to do more. Thank you for supporting us to make more possible.