(Cooperstown, NY) Citizens of Otsego County face an emergency need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the need the Community Foundation of Otsego County has created the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund for Otsego County. Full details and links to multiple online presences of the Fund will be made available at allotsego.com, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21.
Otsego County unemployment is rising and we are seeing growing numbers of potentially fatal illnesses. The nonprofit service sector of our economy is faced with overwhelming assistance requests, and we are going to help. The Fund will issue grants to qualified service organizations addressing the most urgent needs of county residents. (Once the crisis abates, the Fund will shift to supporting recovery efforts.) Our immediate concern is relief and we will rely upon existing nonprofit organizations already on the front lines of response. Grant applications are on our website and grants will be issued to organizations to meet these priorities:
- Support for medical workers, EMTs, police, firefighters, and others in essential occupations who risk their own health to serve the community.
- Prevention measures such as education and sanitary supplies to limit the spread of the virus.
- Support for vulnerable populations, i.e. older adults with compromised immune systems, and people who are unhoused.
- Practical needs, in case of disruption in services to vulnerable populations, such as meal delivery and daily living support for homebound older adults.
- Food access and other practical support for people who have lost wages or are unable to stock up on food, specifically those who fall in the gaps of government-led responses.
- Support for workers, especially low-wage workers, to address lack of access to healthcare and paid sick leave, lack of proper safety equipment, economic impact of lost wages due to quarantines, cancelled activities, reduced hours/layoffs.
- Other emerging, immediate needs.
The Fund has started with a grant of $20,000 from the Community Foundation of Otsego County and a $1 for $1 matching challenge grant of another $30,000 from its board members and volunteers. The Fund is accepting donations now. CFOC is underwriting all the costs of creating and administering the Fund and not charging any fees so that 100% of amounts donated will go directly into the community to meet pressing needs.
We are asking for immediate support from individual donors, companies, local foundations, and other organizations. Online gifts have the most immediate impact and will be accepted as of 2 p.m., Tuesday, April 21 when our website is announced on allotsego.com. Donations can also be sent to the Community Foundation of Otsego County, P.O. Box 55, Springfield Center, NY 13468. Please send any questions related to donations to our contact link on the website. For further detailed information, to add your name as a supporter or endorser, or other in-depth questions, please visit the contact link on our website. For other general questions, please visit our frequently asked questions (FAQs) on our website.
We thank local and regional leaders and our board members for their support, and we offer these thoughts from a few:
Alicia Dicks, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties
“CFOC is a remarkable new organization that is setting itself up to make a real difference in Otsego County. Our organization has helped them get established and we are excited to see the impact that will come as a result.”
Gary Herzig, Vice President of CFOC, Mayor of Oneonta, Former COO Opportunities for Otsego
“While hard times are not new to many of our Otsego County neighbors, the current challenges they are facing cannot be overcome alone. We are One County – One Community and we will ride this storm out together. The COVID Fund for Otsego County provides us with an effective way to band together. I truly believe that the people of our county will come together in supporting our neighbors in this time of unprecedented need.”
David Bliss, Chair, of the Otsego County Board of Representatives, real estate broker, and farmer
“I am impressed that CFOC has fast tracked their organizational model in order to help relieve the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As our community comes together to address critical issues resulting from this health emergency, we at CFOC will do our best to respond to today’s needs and tomorrows challenges.”
Finally, we wish to thank allotsego.com for its generous assistance in publicizing the Fund.
Background on The COVID-19 Fund and The Community Foundation
Created as part of the Community Foundation of Otsego County, the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fun is intended as a major county-wide effort to use private donations to address the COVID-19 emergency. To do this, CFOC will distribute awards through local nonprofit organizations to support efforts to address the needs created by this pandemic.
The Community Foundation of Otsego County was created in 2019, with the mission of improving the quality of life for all of us in the Otsego County area. For those not familiar with CFOC and how we have been building resources to announce our introduction to the Otsego County community, we are an IRS designated nonprofit public charity (501c3). We accomplish our mission primarily through gathering financial assets to direct to existing nonprofits in our county – to help them solve problems we all recognize and that are common to rural areas. The Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors, currently comprised of 15 members. The Board represents the entire community and no special interests. We are responsible to our public and listen carefully to the community when setting our priorities. At this time, we have no staff and are being managed entirely by unpaid volunteers. We have an agency relationship with the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties for management of our investment assets. CFOC is a nonprofit public charity registered with the New York State Attorney General. Our IRS determination letter is available on our website.
Photo courtesy of A Rodd