PORT TOWNSEND — This small, rural county generated a huge amount of money to help local people hit hard by the pandemic — “an extraordinary story of our community coming together to work together,” said Siobhan Canty, CEO of the Jefferson Community Foundation.
Between March and October last year, $713,659 in donations were made to the foundation’s COVID Response & Recovery Fund, according to the its 2020 impact report.
From that fund, $700,871 in grants were presented to help people who could not otherwise buy groceries, attend remote school, travel to work, eat a daily meal or keep a roof over their heads.
The remaining $12,788 of the total donated was spent on community outreach and public education, the impact report said.
“I want the community to know how grateful we are,” Canty said, adding that $614,094 of the donations — 86 percent — came straight from Jefferson County residents.
The other $99,565 flowed in from sources outside the county. That included $89,369 in grants secured by the foundation plus $10,197 in individual donations from across and beyond the region, spokesperson Megan Claflin said.
“However, we are not done yet,” Canty said.
The fund is moving on to Phase II.
The COVID fund’s first phase was a kind of first responder, attending to basic life support. The impact report lists dozens of funded efforts: 5,000 face masks distributed free before any were available at local retailers; more than 4,700 meals delivered to low-income students countywide; 29 previously homeless people moved off the streets and into transitional units at Bayside Housing in Port Hadlock.
In addition, more than 2,000 households received financial help with utility bills and daily expenses. Forty-five foster families received at-home learning aids for their kindergarten through 12th-grade students, and 44 youngsters received scholarships to COVID-safe summer camps.
Mental health counseling and online workshops about self-compassion and healthy coping techniques were provided to 49 children and teens, while 54 cancer patients received counseling to help them cope with isolation during their treatments.
Phase II will bring the COVID relief fund’s recovery stage. The foundation is seeking grant proposals, this time from people involved with post-pandemic rebuilding.
“We invite proposals from local nonprofits and community-serving government agencies working on recovery efforts,” said foundation nonprofit relations manager Jen Kingfisher.
Information about submitting a grant proposal can be found at JCFgives.org; click on COVID Fund.
“Our grants committee is particularly interested in proposals that create long-term, sustainable impacts” on the ground in Jefferson County, Kingfisher said.
Already, the foundation has awarded $17,000 to Key City Public Theatre so it can reopen with a modern ventilation system and hands-free restroom fixtures.
The Quimper Grange, a Port Townsend gathering space, has received a $4,900 grant to upgrade its ventilation and sanitation.
“Appropriately, those kinds of organizations took a step back in 2020,” Canty said.
As 2021 progresses — and more people are immunized against COVID — funding is available to restart local nonprofits’ physical operations. Phase II also expands the focus, Canty added, to include gatherings and recreation.
Proposals are being accepted on a rolling basis with grants reviewed monthly; applications submitted by the first Thursday of each month will be considered on the second Friday of the month.
The grants review committee includes former Jefferson County commissioner Kathleen Kler, former Jefferson County Public Health Director Jean Baldwin, former Jefferson County Library Director Meredith Wagner and Jefferson Community Foundation board chairwoman Rose Lincoln Hamilton.
For more information, the foundation office can be reached at 360-385-1729. That’s also the number, along with JCFgives.org, to find out how to donate to the COVID Response & Recovery Fund.
The fund will stay flexible in its new phase, Canty said.
“We can’t control what the community’s needs are,” so the foundation must be able to field a range of requests for help.
“What is important for the public to know,” she added, “is that this is their fund.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]