Pandemic Relief Fund dollars are hitting the street throughout Los Angeles, from La Verne to Wilmington to Pacoima and beyond. Following our initial round of grants, we put out a second round helping more than 100 local organizations by directly connecting them to critical supplies, and mini-grants to 45 community-based organizations.
COVID-19 caused huge disruptions in supply chains, leaving our unsheltered neighbors and service providers without protective supplies during this crisis. Through the support of the Pandemic Relief Fund, we were able to purchase supplies such as gloves, surgical and fabric masks, and non-contact thermometers. To our housing partners alone, we distributed 148,000 fabric masks and nearly 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. A warehouse generously provided by UPS served as a distribution hub, and more than 100 organizations throughout Los Angeles County have been able to safely pick up supplies and protective equipment.
“In order to keep our participants and staff safe, it was necessary for us to have ample supplies of PPE and sanitizing equipment to prevent infection, and supplies such as thermometers to help determine who might be infected with COVID-19,” said grantee The People Concern. “United Way’s timely grant allowed us to rapidly acquire this equipment without having to divert critical funds from other areas of our budget.”
Trusted community organizations are stepping up and answering the call to serve their communities.The Pandemic Relief Fund allows UWGLA to turn around “mini grants” of a few thousand dollars in a matter of short weeks. Grantees throughout Los Angeles County are organizations that serve our most vulnerable including faith-based, housing and homeless services, food pantries and youth services.
One mini-grantee, North Valley Caring Services, has been serving the Northeast San Fernando Valley community for more than 30 years. From its founding in 1978 as a soup kitchen, NVCS has become the largest food distribution center in the San Fernando Valley; serving individuals in the Northeast San Fernando Valley area who are homeless, low-income, or experiencing food insecurity.
Under COVID-19, NVCS has taken on the role of an emergency responder to meet increased community needs. UWGLA’s mini-grant has helped NVCS purchase boxes and personal protective equipment for volunteers and staff along with additional food to meet the surge in need from the families they serve.
“This has hit a lot of people in our neighborhood and it tells me our community is not in good shape,” executive director Manuel Flores tells me. “Putting the boxes into cars is extremely emotional. Everyone says thank you. Many fall into tears. It is incredible to feel the gratitude.”
Their meal distribution has tripled to more than 1,100 meals weekly for homeless families and quarantined seniors. They quickly converted their food pantry to a drive-through. In just 4 weeks, NCVS went from serving 850 to more than 2,100 families per week. Volunteers are stepping up to serve the community as well, some tripling their normal hours to help out; people wait up to 3 hours to drive through the food pantry and park outside as early as 4 am.
When asked about working with UWGLA, Manuel described it as refreshing. “It’s very impactful to come and visit the campus,” he said. “Seeing the food pantry in action has an emotional impact. Even as we get back to normal, we invite people to participate.”
The Food Security Program portion of NVCS is just a gateway for clients who need more intensive case management, referrals, and assistance. As we head into the recovery, NVCS is expecting a rise in the number of clients receiving additional services like homeless case management, mental, dental and primary health, substance abuse, and other wraparound services. NVCS is a glowing example as to how even small donations impact our communities in a big way.
The Pandemic Relief Fund continues making a difference all throughout Los Angeles County, with new grants on the ground every week to serve our most vulnerable neighbors. Join us by donating now.