The community coalition created to respond to the COVID-19 crisis is shifting its priorities from the emergency human needs in Ottawa County to the longer-term efforts of stabilization and recovery.
“From day one, we realized that we could best serve Ottawa County by working together to assess and respond to the emergent needs of our community in response to the initial freefall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Goorhouse, president/CEO of the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. “We support many of the same organizations, so it made sense to combine our resources to support the organizations and individuals most acutely impacted during the first 6-8 weeks.”
Since announcing the collaboration on March 14, the coalition has awarded more than 100 grants totaling $872,679 from the Emergency Human Needs Fund to organizations in Ottawa County that have committed to keeping people fed, housed and healthy, said Hadley Streng, president of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.
“The grants have focused on food, health, housing and shelter, and vulnerable populations like seniors and immigrants,” she said. “Even though we’re transitioning to recovery funds held at our separate organizations, we will continue to communicate about the needs of our community and collaborate when appropriate.”
As of May 18, the collective Emergency Human Needs Fund is closed. All future donations will go to the individual community recovery funds held at the local community foundations and Greater Ottawa County United Way. Details about the new funds will be announced in the coming weeks by their respective organizations.
The new funds are: GHACF’s Community Relief and Recovery Fund, CFHZ’s COVID-19 Community Stabilization Fund and the local United Way’s Community Recovery Campaign.
“We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the countless individuals and organizations who gave during this time of extreme uncertainty,” said Patrick Moran, president of the Ottawa and Allegan County United Way. “Six-hundred and seventy donors gave a total of $872,679 in the past two months, and 362 people volunteered through the United Way during the crisis period.”
Moving forward, both community foundations are exploring a more streamlined grant application process for their new community recovery funds, and plan to award grants more frequently than their traditional competitive grants.
“As we shift into this second phase of relief and recovery, we recognize that the challenge for many organizations is just beginning,” Streng said. “Our mission has always been to address the challenges facing West Michigan, and this is no different.”
The community coalition website, www.careottawacounty.com, and its Facebook page will continue to provide information about the need for volunteers, donations of both goods and funds, and other updates.