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Nonprofits to get help from groups

Valley organizations come together to avoid duplication during COVID-19 pandemic

Staff photo / Renee Fox James Dignan, a consultant with AMK Professional Services in Vienna, hosts a press conference with attendees in person and over the computer about collecting donations for COVID-19 relief funds.

WARREN — Nonprofits that rely on donations to help those in need are running out of dollars to help people and to keep operations going.

In an effort to ensure donations are getting to those in need, philanthropic organizations are coming together to coordinate efforts and streamline procedures to avoid duplication.

Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, said that’s why her organization teamed with several groups, including the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation, to create the Mahoning Valley Community Response Fund, which will issue Mahoning Valley COVID-19 crisis relief grants for nonprofits.

While the agencies always have stayed in communication, Harrell said they have been working together much more closely lately and speeding up the time it usually takes to get money to people in need. They are reviewing applications closely to make sure the money — they have access to about $500,000 — is being granted in a way that doesn’t overlap one another’s efforts.

Another committee focusing on Trumbull County — which the Mahoning Valley foundation also serves — is getting into the mix.

With about $50,000 at the disposal of the Trumbull County Community Foundation, organized under the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, the organization intends on collecting funding to assist the nonprofits that serve people in the county.

The Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio is an umbrella organization under which are the affiliates Trumbull County Community Foundation, Northern Trumbull County Community Foundation, and foundations serving Mercer County, the Shenango Valley, Lawrence County and Grove City.

The groups also are coordinating their efforts with other nonprofits, such as the United Way of Trumbull County and the United Way of the Mahoning Valley.

“It is a great relationship. We are all working together to figure where the gaps in needs are and to figure out how the funds can be distributed,” Kyle English, Trumbull County Community Foundation executive director, said.

Funds have helped the St. Vincent de Paul Society continue serving hot meals and Trumbull County Mobile Meals freeze dinners to limit the number of times food has to be dropped off to the seniors receiving them, ensured the Salvation Army has enough food to give away and more, English said.

While many organizations have sought the money to fight hunger, the need for rent and mortgage assistance “is definitely growing,” he said.

“As the month of April moves on, we anticipate more and more people will need help paying their regular bills or rent,” English said. “A lot of agencies are preparing for that rise in need because we know it is coming and it is important to make sure we reach people who need the help.”

James Dignan, a consultant with AMK Professionals in Vienna who is helping the Community Foundation of Trumbull County raise money, said “every penny” is needed. People who want to donate can visit comm-foundation.org /trumbull.

Nonprofits that want to apply can find an application at comm-foundation. org/covid-19. On the same webpage, there is a link to check out the nonprofits that already have requested funds, and donors can give money to those efforts.

The Trumbull County COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund was announced at an in-person news conference Friday at 174 N. Park Ave., where three state lawmakers — Rep. Michael O’Brien, D-Warren, Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, and Rep. Gil Blair, D-Weathersfield — gathered with Dignan, Trumbull County Commissioner Dan Polivka and local attorney Jeff Goodman — Sen. O’Brien’s law partner — in a small suite in Goodman’s building in Courthouse Square.

Harrell said the coalition among the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley and its partners is thankful the charitable funds affiliated with the foundation have released more money for the response fund. Anyone who would like to donate to the cause or nonprofits that want to apply for the funds can visit https://www.cfmv .org/response-fund because the money on hand isn’t expected to last long due to the deep need.

The nonprofits applying for the funds don’t need money just to help the residents they serve, but money to continue operating, Harrell said.

“Many of these organizations conduct fundraising events, but can’t right now because of the stay-at-home orders. So their revenue streams have changed, decreasing, while the need in the community for them to act as a safety net increases, and their service activities have increased dramatically,” Harrell said.

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