Local groups share COVID-19 relief funds
By Randy Harrison
Several local schools, municipalities and social agencies will share in the latest round of COVID-19 relief funds.
The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund recently announced it distributed its fourth and largest round of funding thus far, an additional $6.95 million to 42 nonprofit organizations across the state.
Of that total, $60,000 of the funding went to 15 organizations in southeastern Illinois, providing essential resources to vulnerable residents who have been largely impacted by COVID-19.
Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation partnered with United Way of Crawford County to quickly re-distribute funds to organizations with increased demands for services in Crawford County.
Local recipients sharing the funds include: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Crawford County, CAISA, Catholic Charities, Village of Oblong, City of Robinson, Embarras River Basin Agency, Hutsonville Unit 1, Lawrence/Crawford Associations for Exceptional Citizens, Oblong Unit 4, Palestine Unit 3, Robinson Assembly of God Food Pantry, Robinson Food Pantry, Robinson Unit 2, Upper Room Street Ministries Mobile Food Pantry and Village of Hutsonville.
“Oblong was fortunate to receive $3,500,” said Oblong Mayor Teresa Fielder.
“We used our funds to help residents who were most in jeopardy of water/sewer shut off situations and residents who were so far behind in their payments that it was not beneficial to them nor the village to set them up with payments,” Fielder explained.
“This money will help not only our water/sewer customers get caught up, but will help our public works department tremendously as many of these past due bills can be taken care of and a new start given.”
The fund, which was established by the United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations in collaboration with the Office of the Governor, focused this round of funding on serving the state’s most vulnerable populations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With this most recent round, the ICRF has made grants of $23.65 million to 87 unique organizations, which have re-granted to over 800 organizations across the state.
The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, will continue with its fifth and final round of grantmaking to nonprofits across the state to help Illinoisans in response to this crisis.
“This crisis has decimated far too many families and especially among our most vulnerable communities,” said PSP Partners Chairman Pritzker.
“In this round of funding, we have used data to prioritize and target our most vulnerable fellow Illinoisans who have borne the disproportionate and tragic share of impact from this terrible pandemic.”
As ICRF moved into its fourth round of funding, the fund took a data-driven approach to identify the populations facing a disproportionate share of the burden from this pandemic.
ICRF focused this round of funding on these most vulnerable populations: African-Americans, Latinx, Undocumented, Rural impacted and Seniors.
In the fourth round of funding, ICRF awarded $4.5 million to these priority populations and $2.45 million to serve additional populations especially vulnerable to COVID-19.
211 Helpline coming to Crawford County for people in need
People in Crawford County will soon have access to a 24-hour information and referral helpline with the upcoming launch of 211 services in Crawford County.
211 is a free, confidential helpline that provides a central access point to health and human service providers in Crawford County. 211 provides referrals and correct, concise information 24-hours a day, seven days a week to critical resources.
“If folks here are having mental health issues or trouble finding help with their day-to-day needs, there are lots of services here, but it can sometimes be hard to find,” Barb Shimer of United Way of Crawford County said. “People who are having problems can’t always think to do an Internet search or may not have the resources to search for help on the Internet.”
“As much as two-thirds of the calls that come to 911 are calls for social services that don’t know where to go.”
If someone needs information or referral services but has little or no prior knowledge or experience finding them, dialing 211 is much simpler than other options. Once the person dials 211, a professional Information and Referral specialist will then either refer or connect that caller to the correct agency based on the services needed.
Callers to 211 can get assistance with needs such as food, shelter, counseling, income supports, employment, healthcare and services for specialized populations such as the elderly and persons with disabilities and much more.
Shimer said the UWCC is currently doing some troubleshooting work and is hoping to launch the service here by the end of August. The group is also hoping to add text211 to the service.
The UWCC is also working the expand their database of available services but that work is challenging during the coronavirus pandemic and things are changing so quickly.
“We’re trying to decide how to go the information out there,” Shimer said. “Not everyone has a computer or a good way to access the Internet, but almost everyone has a phone or at least knows someone who does.”
Funding is a major challenge. Shimer said 211 is funded by the state in many areas, but not in Illinois. It’s going to cost roughly $1,000 for the initial hookup and then $4,000 to $5,000 each year. Crawford County United Way has committed to pay for this service as well as all of the one-time connecting fees and assist in building the database of services available to Crawford County residents.
Shimer said Crawford County will be one of the first southern counties in the state to have 211 service available and is hoping other nearby counties will start their own service soon,
“I feel good about doing this through the United Way. We will do anything we can to help the people on our area and we’re very lucky to have such generous support of the people in our community.”
The United Way of Crawford County is also beginning to explore possibilities to improve broadband Internet access in the county.
“Working on this project will show us where the holes in those services are and help us make improvements,” Shimer said. “With more people working from home, it could make us the kind of place that people would want to relocate to. We have a lot to offer and this could really be a boon to our development.
We are in the final stages of completing the telephone switches and testing and anxiously anticipate 2 1 1 being operational in Crawford County by approximately October 1.
What is 2-1-1?
2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember, non-emergency telephone number that connects people with essential community information and services. 2-1-1 saves time and frustration through specialists who match callers to the right agency based on each caller's need.
The 24-hour line makes it easy for the public to navigate the maze of human service providers and help lines. All calls are free, anonymous and confidential.
Callers can get live assistance with needs such as:
- Food and shelter
- Counseling and mental health services
- Income and employment support
- Help for the elderly and people with disabilities
- Resources for children and families
Who can use 2-1-1?
- 285 million Americans can connect to 2-1-1, which means 90.6% of the U.S. population has access.
- 2-1-1 covers all or part of all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
- 39 states have 100% coverage.
United Way Donates AED
The United Way of Crawford County in partnership with the First Robinson Savings Bank recently presented the Outer West Market Church in Palestine an AED unit to help complete their safety plan. (Pictured is Bill Sandiford, Harlei Postlewait, Tim Watson, Gene Purcell, and Barbara Shimer.)
Crawford County United Way Design Contest Winners Announced
Area youth recently competed in a design contest by submitting entries for a United Way of Crawford County thank you note. Winners were selected in three different age categories. First prize was a $50 gift to them and a $50 donation in their name made to the local charity of their choice, all sponsored by an individual. Winners were Kendal Rank, who chose the Clothing Center Workshop, and Emilie Allcorn and Alexa Rank, who both chose the Imagination Library. Blind selection was done by United Way Community Committee members Sarah Arnone, Dan Dix, John Sharma, and Hope Dennis. Pictured is Board President, Bryan Barbee with Ron and Kate McCord, representing the Clothing Workshop, and Mindy Evans, representing Imagination Library.
Robinwood Assembly of God Receives Freezer Donation
The Robinwood Assembly of God was the recent recipient of funding for a freezer for their food pantry. They distribute food to the community the first Thursday of every month from 4 – 6pm. The next distribution will be Thursday, July 2. (Picture submitted with Bryan Barbee, Jerrol Mikeworth, and Barbara Shimer.)
Crawford County United Way Makes Donation to Area Food Pantries
The local COVID-19 relief fund funded by donations from area businesses and individuals and the United Way of Crawford County made its first round of donations this week. This fund was established to bring relief in the form of food assistance and financial assistance in the form of rent and utility support to Crawford County residents who most need it. Receiving checks from the COVID relief fund were the Robinson Food Pantry, the Palestine Food Pantry, The Oblong Food Pantry, the Upper Room Street Ministries Mobile Food Pantry, the Catholic Charities Mobile Food Pantry, and the Robinwood Assembly of God Food Pantry. The Checks were presented by committee members Bryan Barbee, Kaycee Connelly, and Barbara Shimer.
See attached photos. Catholic Charities, not available.
First Robinson Savings Bank Makes Donation to COVID Relief Fund
Robinson – based First Robinson Savings Bank N.A. has donated $20,000 to the United Way of Crawford County’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. In general, this fund has been established to help those affected by this public health crisis.
“Soon after putting out the call to action asking everyone to share whatever they could to help neighbors in need through the relief fund, First Robinson Savings Bank stepped up to the plate in a big way with a check for $20,000 to get the ball rolling,” said Bryan Barbee, President of United Way of Crawford County. “We are fortunate to have partners like First Robinson Savings Bank and the many others who care so deeply about the quality of life in Crawford County, and we want to assure the community that 100% of the gifts to the relief fund will go directly to vetted not-for-profits who are serving our individuals and families during this crisis.”
“Many people have lost their income and are unable to pay their bills or purchase basic necessities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Barb Shimer, United Way’s Community Resource person said. “Right now, we are calling on our community and our corporate partners to come together and support struggling individuals and families. This pandemic is a health crisis, but it is an economic crisis as well, and with your help, we intend to be here to support those being affected."
“Supporting the United Way during this critical time is imperative," Bill Sandiford, V.P., First Robinson Savings Bank, N.A. said. "This relief fund will help ease some of the difficulties our local families are facing. First Robinson Savings investment in the well-being of our communities is currently one of our highest priorities, and we know United Way’s efforts will help provide a better tomorrow by keeping our communities strong and healthy during this time."
Hershey Makes Donation to COVID Relief Fund
The United Way of Crawford County announced today that The Hershey Company has made a $10,000 donation to its COVID-19 Relief Impact Fund. The donation, made by Hershey Chocolate & Confectionery Corporation of Robinson will be used to help Crawford County residents that need food, rent, and utility relief as a result of the current economic instability brought on by the pandemic.
“Giving back to communities is one of Milton Hershey’s founding principles,” said Bryan Barbee, President of United Way of Crawford County. “We deeply appreciate having such a generous neighbor as Hershey in our community. Many families all over our county will benefit from this gift.”
Helping safety net organizations like the United Way in communities where the company has operations has been a central component of Hershey’s efforts to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is humbling to work for a company that believes so strongly in supporting our fellow neighbors facing hardships during this pandemic,” said Jeremy Rank, Robinson Plant Manager. “The Hershey Company is fortunate to have great employees who take pride in making the products that consumers love, and who exemplify our commitment to excellence, safety and our belief that we are stronger together.”
About The Hershey Company
The Hershey Company is headquartered in Hershey, Pa., and is an industry-leading snacks company known for bringing goodness to the world through its iconic brands, remarkable people and enduring commitment to help children succeed. Hershey has approximately 16,000 employees around the world who work every day to deliver delicious, quality products. The company has more than 80 brands around the world that drive $8 billion in annual revenues, including such iconic brand names as Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat, Jolly Rancher, Ice Breakers, SkinnyPop and Pirate’s Booty.
For more than 125 years, Hershey has been committed to operating fairly, ethically and sustainably. Hershey founder, Milton Hershey, created the Milton Hershey School in 1909 and since then the company has focused on helping children succeed.
To learn more visit www.thehersheycompany.com
About United Way of Crawford County
United Way of Crawford County’s mission is to measurably improve lives by identifying health and human service needs and uniting the resources of donors, volunteers and the community to address those needs. We’re engaged in our Crawford County to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. For more information about United Way of Crawford County, please visit UnitedWayofCrawfordcountyil.org. Follow us on FaceBook
About UWCC’s COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Crawford County COVID-19 Relief Fund was established to provide funding to agencies that provide food, rent, and utility relief. One hundred present of donations will fund agencies and food pantries that serve Crawford County residents. To donate, please send your check to “United Way, P.O. Box 3, Robinson, IL. 62454 or text CCSTRONG to 91999.
Pictured left to right: Bryan Barbee, President United Way of Crawford County; Jake Wildes, Hershey Bars BU Leader and Community Involvement Co-lead; Barbara Shimer, United Way Community Resource Representative; and Brent Kelley, Hershey Pieces BU Leader and Community Involvement Co-lead.
United Way Announces COVID-19 Relief Fund
Due to the generous contributions of our community (individuals and companies), the United Way of Crawford County has established a Relief Fund to assist Crawford County 501(c)(3) agencies and organizations that provide food, basic needs, and essential other emergency relief for families in Crawford County. Your generosity will help families and people in need access critical information and services like food, shelter, and more through our United Way of Crawford County.
During times of uncertainty and crisis, people come together to support one another. COVID-19 is a new test of our collective strength. As millions are on lockdown and more businesses are closing, unemployment is spiking. Feeding the kids, making the rent and keeping the lights on is tougher for many than ever before.
United Way of Crawford County’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund supports our Crawford County communities by helping our local United Way respond, and by ensuring people get accurate information. We are fielding more calls, texts and FaceBook messages than normal. We expect as many calls for help in the next six months as we usually get in a full year. People are hurting.
To make a contribution, provide assistance or request assistance, please contact us at: