COVID-affected nonprofits share $1M city grant

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Storehouse New Mexico can continue buying groceries for newly unemployed clients. Enlace Comunitario can keep providing rental assistance to victims of domestic violence. And the Albuquerque Indian Center can maintain grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches, and mail service to homeless Native Americans.

That’s because these nonprofits are among 44, including some governmental agencies, that will get a piece of the $1 million Coronavirus Community Support and Recovery Fund, recently approved by Albuquerque city councilors. The awards range from $5,000 to $50,000.

The funding is being made available “because of the spike in need for the services these organizations and government agencies offer, and the difficulty they found themselves in serving the same clientele they had been serving before the COVID crisis,” said Councilor Diane Gibson, who was on the oversight committee that reviewed 68 request for proposal applications.

A $15,000 award to Storehouse New Mexico will go a long way. For every $1 in donations it receives, it can buy five meals, said executive director Swarupa Watlington.

“The demographic has changed and we’re seeing more new people who are recently unemployed, more younger people with families and a lot of business owners who have been unable to provide for their families and have come to the food pantry for the first time,” she said.

The Storehouse, the largest food pantry in the state, typically serves about 600 people each week. It is an open pantry, meaning clients normally walk through the aisles and self select the foods they want and fill up an entire shopping cart, Watlington explained.

Because of social distancing, clients fill out a checklist of items that they want, and pantry workers fill the order and box or bag the items, and take them to the clients in the parking lot.

“By allowing people to self-select their food, it gives them a sense of dignity, especially at this time when they may not have a job,” Watlington said.

While the pantry has had to increase the amount of money it spends on bulk purchases of food, it has simultaneously seen a significant decrease in individual cash donations, as well as food, “because people are afraid to go out,” she said. That has also greatly reduced the Storehouse’s volunteer workforce, she said.

A $48,000 award will allow Catholic Charities to continue focusing on refugees and immigrants, said Chief Executive Officer Jim Gannon.

Most of these people “have additional cultural and language barriers, and need assistance and support in making applications for services for them and their children,” he said.

They also need continued assistance with rent, utilities, food and health care.

While many will not be eligible for such things as unemployment compensation or stimulus money, they may qualify for services through various organizations, religious groups, nonprofits and foundations, Gannon said.

The organization’s ability to maintain case management assists clients in identifying their needs, and in navigating the system and paperwork to get whatever assistance is available, he said.

Catholic Charities serves about 17,500 people annually through services, classes and even children’s day care, Gannon said. Individual donations to the organization are down because many of those people now find themselves in need.

The organization also gets about $500,000 a year from parishes in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, but because churches have been closed for two months and donations to parishes are down, that also affects Catholic Charities, he said.

Enlace Comunitario provides services to victims of domestic violence, helping about 1,000 people each year with counseling, legal assistance and transitional housing, among other things, said Executive Director Claudia Medina.

The organization already has grants to continue providing counseling and legal assistance, “and grants come with a lot of restrictions and can only be used for specific reasons,” Medina said.

That’s why the $25,000 award from the city is so critical. “We realize that many of our families, now more than ever, need assistance to cover basic needs – food, rent, utilities, motel vouchers and things like that,” Medina said.

“This pool of money gives us the flexibility to help the families with something they need immediately that is more important to them than counseling or legal assistance.”

It helps them to simply survive, she said.

Organization and recommended award:

  • 1985 (UNM Med Grp/UNM Truman Health Services): $40,000
  • A Light in the Night Community Outreach: $10,000
  • Adelante Development Center, Inc.: $20,000
  • Albuquerque Center For Hope And Recovery: $40,000
  • Albuquerque Indian Center, Inc: $20,000
  • All Faiths Children’s Advocacy Center: $30,000
  • Anita Salas Memorial Fund: $20,000
  • Barelas Community Coalition: $5,000
  • Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court: $40,000
  • Casa Fortaleza: $29,000
  • Catholic Charities: $48,000
  • CLNkids: $30,000
  • Crossroads for Women: $30,000
  • Domestic Violence Resource Center, Inc: $10,000
  • DreamSpring: $30,000
  • Enlace Comunitario: $25,000
  • Family Promise of Albuquerque: $6,000
  • FII-National: $50,000
  • First Nations Community HealthSource: $20,000
  • Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity: $15,000
  • Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership: $25,000
  • Homewise Inc: $25,000
  • Justice Access Support & Solutions for Health: $50,000
  • La Mesa Presbyterian Church: $5,000
  • Lutheran Social Services of Colorado: $33,000
  • New Day: $15,000
  • New Hope Full Gospel Baptist Church: $15,000
  • New Mexico Asian Family Center: $20,000
  • New Mexico Black Leadership Council: $7,000
  • New Mexico Immigrant Law Center: $25,000
  • New Mexico Legal Aid: $27,000
  • NM Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice: $30,000
  • NMCAN: $15,000
  • PB&J Family Services: $25,000
  • Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico: $5,000
  • Share Your Care, Inc.: $10,000
  • Southwest Research and Information Center: $10,000
  • Storehouse New Mexico: $15,000
  • TenderLove Community Center: $45,000
  • The Savila Collaborative DBA Centro Savila: $15,000
  • Three Sisters Kitchen: $10,000
  • Veterans Integration Centers: $20,000
  • VIZIONZ-SANKOFA: $20,000
  • Welstand Foundation: $15,000
  • TOTAL: $1,000,000

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