UWEC establishes local COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund; donations accepted

Hays Post
It's unprecedented for the United Way of Ellis County, but there's a lot of that going on right now.
For the first time in its history, the local organization has established an emergency relief fund.
"It's kind of uncharted waters for us," says Erica Berges, UWEC executive director.
The new COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund will help local non-profit groups keep up with the demands of their own clients in need. All financial donations will go towards the prevention, education, or mitigation of the economic fallout of COVID-19 by those groups.
"Depending on when the funds come in, there'll be an application process. It'll be a much shorter process than our Care Council funds because they're going to need the funds right away," Berges said late Monday morning.
A committee comprised of UWEC board members will review the applications and disperse the funds.
There is a limit of $500 per request, "a kind of mini-grant," to non-profit groups needing financial assistance to help their own clients during the coronavirus upheaval.
"Maybe someone is now out of a job. They're going to need help with utilities. Maybe one of the groups needs help restocking its food pantry, because there's going to be a greater need for that." 
UWEC will match the donations, up to $2,500.
Donations can be made online at www.liveunited.us/covid-19 or a check (with Covid-19 in memo) can be mailed to United Way of Ellis County, P.O. Box 367, Hays, KS 67601.  
There's currently no timeline or deadline for making donations or dispersing the funds.
"The sooner the better," Berges said, "because a lot of us haven't budgeted for something like this. I know these non-profits are going to need the additional funding."
The Salina Area United Way is working on a similar emergency fundraiser, according to Berges, as are many United Way groups across the country.
"This is what we do," Berges explained. "We help manage funds for the community so these non-profits can do the work that they need to do and not worry about coming up with something themselves or doing fundraisers. 
"That's why we're here and we want to respond. Nobody has been through something like this before."
Information about community resources and how you can connect to basic needs assistance and other social services can be found at www.elliscountykshelp.com. Resources can also be found by dialing 211 or visiting www.211.org.
The Hays Chamber and DHDC (Downtown Hays Development Corp.) have begun providing the latest information and resources available at https://hayschamber.com/news-announcements/covid-19-resources and https://www.downtownhays.com/covid19.