PRINCETON — Gibson and four other area counties have formed the COVID-19 Response Fund of the Greater Evansville Region.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke announced the fund Friday and emphasized its regional impact, thanking area leaders, including Princeton Mayor Greg Wright, for their support of the project.
The program focuses on Gibson, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties and has a few main directives:
• Gap support (not duplicated by federal programs) to those who are asset-limited, income-constrained and may be temporarily unemployed
• Sustaining critical operations and levels of service that meet the basic needs, like food, shelter, childcare, of the vulnerable and at-risk
• Support temporary staffing or volunteer mobilization efforts in response to loss of the volunteer base critical to essential social services
• Encourage and champion a movement of neighbors caring for neighbors
Founding funders of the program raised over $1.4 million at the outset. Bob Jones, former CEO of Old National Bank, said the amount raised shows the caring and giving nature of the local community, but the need is much greater for the region.
Jones said the estimated need regionally is $6 million, and cautioned that that is only an estimate. “No one knows the depth or magnitude of this crisis,” he said. “It’s unlike any one we’ve ever seen.”
The fund seeks donations by cash and check donations at all Old National Bank and Heritage Federal Credit Union branches. Community members should reference “COVID-19 Crisis Response” with their donation.
Payment can be sent to United Way of Southwestern Indiana, 318 Main Street, Suite 504 Evansville, IN 47708 or done online at the United Way of Southwestern Indiana website.
Amy Canterbury, president of the United Way of Southwestern Indiana, said there are around 30,000 households across the five counties that fit the description of asset limited, income constrained and employed.
Canterbury said there are struggling working families who may be losing out on paychecks and looking to make decisions between food or prescription.
She said people are sheltering in place as best they can right now and may not be thinking ahead to the first of the month when rent is due, but instead have to take it day by day.
As individuals are in tough positions, nonprofits are also suffering, she said. Some wondering if they can continue services, or even if they need to ramp up what they offer.
Organizations that receive grants will be required to report on the use of the monies.
The application for organizations is expected to go live April 3 and pending committed funds, the fund advisory and allocation committee will begin work April 17 to identify which will get initial contributions.
The committee hopes to have multiple rounds of investment based on the changing needs over time. Any unused funds will be used to establish a future community crisis response fund.
Community Foundation Alliance is allocating up to $1 million in emergency funding to southwestern Indiana nonprofit organizations. The funding will support COVID-19 response activities throughout the alliance service region, comprised of nine affiliate Community Foundations in Daviess, Gibson, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties.
A $250,000 grant is earmarked for the COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund of the Greater Evansville Region supporting human services in Gibson, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties. United Way of Southwestern Indiana is fiscal sponsor for this fund.
The remaining funds support similar collaborative COVID-19 funds in Daviess, Knox, Perry and Pike counties and allow each of the nine Alliance Community Foundations to award rapid response grants to local charitable organizations impacted by the pandemic.
To donate, visit swi.unitedwayepledge.org
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana committed $50,000 to United Way of Southwestern Indiana as part of the company’s COVID-19 response to the community.
The plant is also contributing an in-kind donation of material to produce 2,000 face masks, and donating $11,100 to The Red Cross to sponsor three local community blood drives.
Company-wide, Toyota reported monetary and “in-kind” donations, plus using several of the company’s North American facilities to fabricate face shields while collaborating with medical device companies to speed the manufacture of ventilators, respirators and other vital devices for hospitals.
The company also is beginning mass production of 3-D printed face shields, to be distributed MD Anderson in Houston, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and other hospitals in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan.
Toyota is ready to produce COVID-19 masks, seeking partners for filters and finalizing agreements to begin working with at least two companies that produce ventilators and respirators to help increase their capacity.
Toyota has made donations of masks, safety glasses, shoe/boot overs, gloves, blankets and cotton swabs to hospitals, emergency management teams, and first responders.
• Salvation Army of Gibson and Pike Counties’ food giveaway was scheduled as planned to begin Tuesday morning at 9 a.m., offering fresh product among other items. Clients should come to the gym door (do not form lines and maintain distance protocols), take a number and wait in cars. Only one person at a time. Bring your own boxes or laundry baskets if you have them.
The church reported late last week that about 50 food boxes were distributed over the past week-and-a-half, noting that doors are locked to the public but clients can come to the door or call for assistance.
• Oasis Assembly of God’s Souled Out Saturday food box program is reported on as scheduled for Saturday, April 4, as a drive-through operation. Details of operation were still being worked out Monday.
• As the COVID-19 pandemic social distancing restrictions were extended through the month of April, dozens of local churches offered YouTube and Facebook Live services. Mackey Church of the Nazarene also offered a drive-in service for the second week in a row.
• Gibson County Economic Development Corp. President-CEO Paul Waters offered local businesses affected by COVID-19 help in filling out Small Business Administration emergency loans. The office is located at the northwest corner of the square in Princeton. Phone (812) 386-0002 for an appointment.
Waters also reported restaurant industry employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund at rerf.us
The fund is operated by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
• During a virtual community meeting hosted by Gibson County Chamber of Commerce, Gibson County Visitors and Tourism Bureau Executive Director Eric Heidenreich said details of a $50,000 grant program to assist small locally-owned restaurants affected by COVID-19 are being worked out. (See related story.)
American Red Cross spokesman Jason Bradshaw reported blood donations are drastically below normal levels, and said anyone interested in hosting a drive can contact Red Cross. Call (888) 684-1441 for details.
Participants in the virtual meeting also discussed ways to promote activities to boost morale in the community, such as posting videos about why people love Gibson County.
Oakland City Mayor James Deffendall said people are delivering prescription medication orders and checking on the most vulnerable in his community.
Princeton Mayor Greg Wright said that while all city offices are closed, city operations continue. He encouraged residents to take advantage of the city’s walking trails (maintaining safe social distance) as an outdoor activity. Parks are open, but playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts are closed.
• Gov. Eric Holcomb reported offenders at the Miami Correctional Facility are producing face masks, personal protection gowns, face shields and hand sanitizer.
After the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Indiana, the Department of Correction changed the mission of production lines at Miami Correctional Facility from offender uniforms to the production of protective equipment. ICI stood up two production lines that are producing 200 protection gowns and 200 masks per day. The shop is in production of 650 12-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.
DOC plans to repurpose another production line at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to expand the production of protective equipment.
The personal protective equipment made by offenders will be used by first responders and in Department of Correction facilities to allow traditional PPE to remain available for health care workers.
• Holcomb also reported that traffic on state highways and interstates is down significantly as a result of the Stay-At-Home order. Commercial trucks hauling products essential to COVID-19 response are eligible for an emergency overweight vehicle permit that allows trucks to operate in the state at 90,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rather than 80,000 lbs. through at least April 13. Trucking companies and drivers needing the permit should call 317-615-7320.
He said highway maintenance is ongoing, and construction season will begin on time.
• Indiana Family and Social Services Administration developed a statewide, interactive map to help those seeking food assistance find what they need. The map is online a https://www.in.gov/fssa/dfr/5768.htm
The map details food pantries and meal sites.
The Indiana National Guard will also work at mobile food distribution sites across the state.
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