Commissioner Ken Lawrence Jr. headshot

Ken Lawrence Jr.

NORRISTOWN — A program to support local relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak raised about $750,000 through June 19 to assist Montgomery County nonprofit organizations, according to county officials.

“This is up $150,000 from my last report in mid-May. I’d like to thank all the local foundations, businesses and private citizens who have contributed,” county Commissioner Vice Chairman Kenneth E. Lawrence Jr. said during a recent news briefing at which he provided an update about the MontcoPA COVID-19 Response Fund.

Lawrence said 127 nonprofit organizations, as of June 22, have been awarded a total of $413,500 through the program, which was launched on March 27.

“The fund is reviewing more requests this week. This is a community-wide effort to support the immediate needs of agencies serving the needs of residents hardest hit by the pandemic,” Lawrence explained. “Grants of up to $5,000 are being reviewed and processed on a rolling basis to safety net organizations and first responders.”

The fund provides grants to nonprofit organizations with a successful track record of serving the needs of vulnerable county residents. The fund provides emergency grants to support local nonprofits working with residents most impacted by COVID-19.

The fund’s purpose is to support first responders and safety net organizations providing critical services during the COVID-19 emergency, Lawrence explained.

“The projects are prioritized based on the geography they serve, the capacity to meet the higher demand for services and whether the project targets particularly vulnerable populations,” Lawrence added.

To date, Lawrence said, grants have gone to support a variety of basic needs programs, including food pantries, senior care programs, rent and utility payment programs for low income residents, behavioral health care services, ambulance services, child care for health care workers, domestic violence services, protective personal equipment purchases for nonprofit groups that continue to operate and provide essential in-person services and emergency shelter services.

“Even as we head into the green phase, funds are still needed to support the ongoing efforts of our first responders and our social safety net providers who are still helping those who continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19,” said Lawrence, referring to the state’s color-coded reopening phase.

The county entered the “green phase” of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan on June 26.

Under the green phase there are less restrictions, however, large gatherings of more than 250 are still prohibited and masks are required when entering a business. Restaurants and bars can reopen at 50 percent occupancy and hair salons and barbershops can open at 50 percent occupancy and by appointment only, according to the guidelines.

Indoor recreation and health and wellness facilities such as gyms and spas can open at 50 percent occupancy with appointments strongly encouraged, according to green phase regulations.

Entertainment venues such as casinos, theaters, and shopping malls can open at 50 percent occupancy.

Officials said the reduction of services along with strict social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 outbreak, make it more difficult for low-income and food-insecure residents, seniors, veterans, the homeless and homebound individuals get what they need. As a result of the pandemic, officials expect a sharp increase in safety net services, and they said the relief fund helps them be prepared to meet the demand.

“Thank you everybody who’s donated. It’s really phenomenal,” said Commissioners’ Chairwoman Dr. Valerie Arkoosh.

Through the countywide effort, residents can donate directly to the relief fund. More funds are urgently needed to support the ongoing efforts, officials said.

To contribute to the fund, or to apply for grants, residents and organizations can visit www.montcopa.org/COVID-19.

The fund is a unique partnership between local government and organizations, including Montgomery County, HealthSpark Foundation, Montgomery County Foundation, Inc., VNA Foundation of Greater North Penn, BLBB Charitable, AmerisourceBergen Foundation, Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, Inc., Genuardi Family Foundation, and Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia. The county’s three nonprofit collaboratives, BuxMont Collaborative, TriCounty Community Network, and the Interagency Council of Norristown, are also founding partners.

The partners seeded the fund with $250,000, but more donations will be needed to meet the demand, officials said.

To date, the grantees included: Abramson Senior Care; ACLAMO Family Center; Advanced Living Communities; Ardmore Food Pantry at St Mary's Episcopal Church; Association for Adults with Developmental Disabilities; Bethel AME Church of Ardmore/Bethel Academy; Bethel Community Church of Pottstown; Cecil and Grace Bean Soup Kitchen, Inc.; Centro de Cultura, Arte, Trabajo y Educación (CCATE);

Daily Bread Community Food Pantry Inc.; Einstein Medical Center Montgomery; ElderNet of Lower Merion and Narberth; Family Service of Montgomery County;

Foundation for Pottstown Education; Garden of Health, Inc.; Gaudenzia Foundation; Gilbertsville Area Community Ambulance Service; Greater Harleysville & North Penn Senior Services; Greater Philadelphia YMCA; Greener Partners; Hedwig House, Inc.;

Indian Creek Foundation; Interfaith Hospitality Network of the Main Line; Inter-Faith Housing Alliance; Jewish Relief Agency; Kencrest Services; Lansdale Hospital Corporation; Laurel House; LifePath; Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard, Inc.;

Memorial Church of God in Christ of Haverford, Inc.; Merakey Montgomery County; Mitzvah Circle; Montgomery County Community Action Development Commission; Montgomery County Emergency Service; Nationalities Service Center; New Hanover Lutheran Church; North Penn YMCA; Orion Communities; Patrician Society of Central Norristown; Peaceful Living; Penn Foundation, Inc.; Philabundance; Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation; Pottstown Area Children's Foundation; Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Montgomery County; Saint Miriam Pro-Catholic Parish and Friary; Second Alarmer's Rescue Squad of Montgomery County; Senior Adult Activities Center of Montgomery County; Senior Adult Activity Center, Generations of Indian Valley; Silver Springs - Martin Luther School; St. Patrick Parish Outreach; The Open Link; The Partnership TMA of Montgomery County; The Pathway School; The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities; Valley Youth House Committee; VNA-Community Services, Inc.; Volunteer Medical Service Corps of Lansdale; Whitemarsh Community Ambulance Association; Willow Grove Community Development Corporation; Women's Center of Montgomery County; and YWCA Tri-County Area.

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