New fund to aid charities with COVID-19 response

A nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting other charities on Whidbey Island is focusing its attention on helping the community get through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Whidbey Community Foundation started the COVID-19 Community Resilience Fund and seeded it with $25,000. Just a few days after announcing the effort, the organization already had $33,000 in matching funds, according to Nancy Conard, executive director and vice president of the board.

The purpose of the fund is “to complement the work of public agencies by expanding local capacity to address aspects of the outbreak as efficiently as possible,” a press release states.

Conard said the group’s top priority will be helping to address immediate needs caused by the pandemic. The focus will be on food insecurity, economic insecurity, housing insecurity, access to health care and medication, costs related to mitigating virus transmission, transportation and childcare.

Similar funds, Conard said, have been created by neighboring community foundations, including the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, the Seattle Foundation, Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation and the Orcas Island Community Foundation.

Grants will be given to nonprofit organizations on a rolling basis “to ensure dollars are deployed in the community quickly and responsively,” she said. The first grants will be awarded March 31.

Conard said many charitable organizations on the island have had to cancel fundraising events because of the virus. These groups may struggle with funding at a time when need is the greatest.

Conard said the Whidbey Community Foundation has been successful in fundraising because it has a part-time staff member and board members from across the island with deep connections to the community.

In addition to Conard, former mayor and lifelong resident of Coupeville, the board members include Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns, Oak Harbor Schools Superintendent Lance Gibbon, former Coupeville Finance Director Robin Hertlein, Steve Shapiro of Island Athletic Club, attorney Sara Kelly, and Jerry Millhon, former director of the Whidbey Institute.

“People who want to give but don’t know where often donate to the Whidbey Community Foundation and depend on us to evaluate need in the community,” Conard said.

In addition to donations, the foundation is asking nonprofit groups to make grant requests.

People can donate online at www.whidbeyfoundation.org. Or make checks payable to Whidbey Community Foundation and mail them to PO Box 1135, Coupeville, WA, 98239.

The foundation welcomes donations of any size. All of the contributions will go directly to programs or services responding to the impact of coronavirus on Whidbey, according to a press release.

All donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

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