PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Extends Funding For Urgent Needs Under Persistent COVID-19 Conditions
“We just started taking kids and told parents, we know that there is money coming and we’re going to use the daycare grant to pay for the kids.”
Located in the Hilltop community of Tacoma, the Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center provides important services to children and families. Gail Neal, Executive Director of Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center, shared the steps their organization took when parents began facing the challenges of childcare under COVID-19 conditions, “When COVID-19 first started we were really slow in our response, but we still came to work every day. For the essential workers who had no childcare at all, we kept their kids. We just started taking kids and told parents, we know that there is money coming and we’re going to use the childcare grant to pay for the kids. Don’t worry about it. If you don’t have daycare, just bring them in.”
“Every organization we have talked to this year about funding has been largely affected by COVID-19. It has caused interruptions/changes in service and loss of income for just about every organization I can think of.”
Five months after COVID-19 restrictions on business and physical distance first started, nonprofits like Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center are still responding to the unique needs emerging under pandemic conditions. Families continue to face challenges finding and securing childcare and family supports. As many as 2.2 million Washingtonians – about 30% of the state’s population – are facing food insecurity. Housing is another challenge, even while Governor Inslee’s October 15 extension on a statewide eviction moratorium will ensure some individuals and families aren’t displaced from their homes in the short-term.
“What we can do is very powerful because no one expects a tenant to be represented by a lawyer. These are federal, state, county, and municipal laws protecting a lot of people, and often all you have to do is educate them.”
As they respond to the dramatic rise in need, organizations face their own challenges to normal operations and sustained funding. Tyler Zemanek, Board Member-Program Director, Gary E Milgard Family Foundations, and member of the PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding committee, “Every organization we have talked to this year about funding has been largely affected by COVID-19. It has caused interruptions/changes in service and loss of income for just about every organization I can think of. Not many organizations will come out of this whole. Also, in our ongoing conversations, front line organizations (ex: food banks) are preparing for a surge in demand due to the lapse of some forms of government assistance and the start of school with a remote learning model.”
PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED funding recipients Tacomaprobono, Building Beyond Walls, and Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center shared the urgent needs they are seeing and how they are responding under persistent COVID-19 conditions.
“Our goal is to build community through service. We all know that we need to build community and that we need to be more connected.”
TACOMAPROBONO – Housing through the eviction lens
Tacomaprobono is a community service program of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. The group provides legal services for low-income individuals who otherwise would be unrepresented in a court of law. Laurie Davenport, Director of Development and Outreach, “We are frontline service providers, so we have to figure it out. We now have way more people facing poverty and homelessness. There is a dramatic increase in the number of people who are losing their jobs, don’t have income, and know that they won’t be able to pay rent.
“With support from the State of Emergency Eviction Defense, we have two attorneys, a paralegal, and many volunteers ready to go. Currently, there are no hearings, but we are working with the courts so when there are hearings, we’re prepared and we can handle the number of people that we’re going to be dealing with and make sure that everybody gets representation and access to mediation.
“What we can do is very powerful because no one expects a tenant to be represented by a lawyer. These are federal, state, county, and municipal laws protecting a lot of people, and often all you have to do is educate all parties involved.”
“While our agency provides hope, our families and children are also receiving it from our incredible community partners.”
BUILDING BEYOND THE WALLS – Food Access
Building Beyond The Walls focuses on hands-on construction skills training projects that give individuals the chance to help strengthen their communities. Sue Z. Hart, Executive Director shared how the organization responded to the growing needs under the pandemic, “COVID-19 made us have to rethink how we do business, how we stay true to our mission, and how to access funding.
“Because we work so closely with so many direct service organizations, we were able to see the incredible rise in the demand on food banks. When there are people out there who are hungry and need essentials, how do we help?
“We came up with the mini pantry. It is a national program that we modified. To stay true to our mission, we are putting kits together so that families and organizations can assemble the kits and place the mini food pantries in their own communities. Our goal is to build community through service. We all know that we need to build community and that we need to be more connected.”
Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center – Childcare
Providing culturally relevant support services to children and families, Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center operates 7 days per week with staff who speak Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and American Sign. Gail Neal, Executive Director, Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center, “The largest barrier we’ve seen are families working from home and are now no longer eligible for childcare. So, we just started taking in kids. We decided that we were not going to turn kids away, and the bills would be paid the best way that they could.
“Anything we could do for families we were just on board in trying to do it. We started a diaper bank in partnership with Help Me Grow and First 5 FUNdamentals, distributing 400 diapers per week. We also started doing a lot of ZOOM meetings for parents to stay connected and as sort of a mental health check-in.
“Working with pro bono attorney Mark Holcomb of Morton McGoldrick, we were able to secure The Community Hall property on 2102 South 23rd Street. This property will provide basic needs distribution, COVID-19 testing, and a wide array of family services. While our agency provides hope, our families and children are also receiving it from our incredible community partners.”
PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Encourages Donors to Continue Giving
When PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED first launched, the hope was that the community would be in a rebuilding phase by October. In response to the urgent needs still being faced, Tyler Zemanek said, “The PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Funding Committee realized that the landscape and available information had changed from the inception of the original timeline to the present. The committee adjusted the funding timeline and criteria to better mirror the needs of the community.” PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED will continue funding rapid response and emerging needs through the end of 2020.
Individual donors can make a difference for their communities during COVID-19 by contributing in any way they can. The aligned philanthropies of PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED encourage individual donors to give directly to the causes and organizations that matter to them.
To support funding for organizations directly serving vulnerable populations during COVID-19, donors are encouraged to donate to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED fund.
Multicultural Child and Family Hope Center
Mini Pantry Movement – Little Free Pantry
The Seattle Times – From peanut butter to applesauce, Washington state stockpiles tons of food for the need ahead
Inslee extends Safe Start proclamation, eviction moratorium