Federal cash on its way to local non-profits

Ryan Erb, executive director of United Way Perth-Huron.

More help is coming

More help is coming to local non-profit organizations stretched thin by the ongoing pandemic.

Those organizations addressing the needs of vulnerable community members impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for access to the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund this week.

In Perth and Huron counties, including Stratford and St. Marys, about $600,000 from the $350-million fund will be managed by United Way Perth-Huron and the Stratford Perth Community Foundation. Both are part of a national effort to distribute the money that includes their parent organizations and the Canadian Red Cross.

“This additional funding is a critical boost for local organizations supporting vulnerable populations in our communities affected by COVID-19,” said Heidi Culliton, the Stratford Perth Community Foundation’s executive director. “Local charities and non-profits have been tirelessly in service to those who need it most right now. We look forward to flowing funds quickly to support critical needs in our region so that no one is left behind.”

Roughly $400,000, will be in the hands of the United Way to distribute to organizations in both Perth and Huron counties. Ryan Erb, executive director of United Way Perth-Huron, said a weekly teleconference with local non-profit sector leaders on Thursday will help clear up questions about how to apply for funding. He expects to begin announcing successful applicants as soon as next week.

“We know that many people need help on a regular basis, and what this crisis has done for us is put it more in focus,” Erb said. “We’re actually now starting to use the term new vulnerable (for) those that perhaps lost their jobs and don’t qualify for some of the support right now, or maybe they’re working less than they were before and … they’re barely making enough to put food on their table. Despite … a great effort by government at all levels, there are still many people that fall through the cracks.”

The Stratford Perth Community Foundation will be delivering about $200,000 in Stratford, St. Marys and surrounding Perth County. Culliton said local organizations are being encouraged to apply to only one funder. More information can be found on each organization’s website, or by phone.

“(Non-profits) are on the front lines and they’re serving critical needs and we want to make sure they just know that we’re both here and that the best thing they can do is give us a quick call,” Culliton said. “We’re still going to make sure every application is vetted carefully and I think our most important goal is … seeing this funding be fast and flexible and reaching out to ensure who needs it most gets the (support).”

Both the United Way and the Stratford Perth Community Foundation have been raising funds locally to support the work of area charities and nonprofits, especially to address concerns such as food insecurity and the social and physical isolation of seniors.

The Canadian Red Cross did not say Tuesday how much of the funds they are managing might end up Perth and Huron, but a spokesperson said the organization is reaching out to communities through its local branches while accepting applications online from non-profits across the country.