Nonprofits find some relief for ailing funds

Without events to raise funding, Valley nonprofits can find money through several relief efforts

By Reggie Ellis

TULARE – Social distancing means no public gathering. That means no events, and, in places like Tulare County, no fundraisers. Spring is event season throughout the Valley as local non profits try and hold their largest fundraisers of the year before the onslaught of summer heat, but this year event season has been canceled or postponed under a shroud of contagion that has settled in the county.

With the coronavirus choking nonprofits of their primary source of revenue, the county’s largest nonprofit is saying that help is on the way.

On April 13, United Way Tulare County (UWTC), a clearinghouse of federal and state funding for charitable organizations, established a relief fund designed to provide aid for Tulare County-area non-profits affected by the current public-health emergency. Interested parties can make donations to the fund at unitedwaytc.org. You can also text covidtc to 41444 and give.

“The United Way of Tulare relief fund was established to provide donors a quick and efficient way to provide support to those who need it most.” said Rosemary Caso, Executive Director of United Way of Tulare County. “We are thankful for the generosity from so many organizations and individuals who have already made contributions. Including Health Net, who has already made a pledge of $25,000, their support is critical in our mission to provide relief for those most in need during these unprecedented times.”

Based in Los Angeles, Health Net provides health care insurance to more than 3 million Californians with Medicare and Medi-Cal as well as access to substance abuse programs, behavioral health services, employee assistance programs and managed health care products related to prescription drugs.

“During this critical time, our priority continues to be the health and well-being of our members and the communities we serve,” said Brian Ternan, CEO of Health Net. “We understand that many families are facing uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we look forward to partnering with the United Way Tulare County in helping to provide relief as we all try and get through these challenging times.”

Concerned locals unsure which nonprofits to reach out to can contact United Way’s 211 helpline for assistance with everything from emergency food and shelter to real-time COVID-19 information. Individuals can text ReadyTC to 898211 for a localized list of pandemic-related resources. The service is also available online, at 211tularecounty.org or by calling 211.

United Way also announced that funding to provide food, rental and utility assistance should be flowing back to Tulare County in coming months. Funding through Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) is provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and distributed locally through United Way of Tulare County. The program provides $412,000 annually to a dozen Tulare County organizations. The fund was exhausted in March but applications for the next round of funding became available on April 15. Organizations that provide emergency food and shelter are encouraged to apply for funding. Applications can be found on www.unitedwaytc.org/efsp-phase-37. Applications are due by 6 p.m. on May 1, 2020 through the online portal.

San Joaquin strong

In addition to Health Net’s $25,000 and over $400,000 in assistance for low income residents to cover monthly expenses, a Kern County credit union has awarded another $25,000 to nonprofits in Kings and Tulare counties.

Valley Strong Credit Union, formerly known as Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, recently announced $25,000 in assistance to 16 local nonprofit organizations impacted by the pandemic. Among the nonprofits receiving a portion of the funding were: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias, Happy Trails Riding Academy in Visalia, Habitat for Humanity of Tulare/Kings Counties, Omni Family Health, Visalia Emergency Aid Council, Girls Scouts of Central California South, Lighthouse Rescue Mission in Tulare, Salvation Army Tulare/Visalia Corps, Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council and United Way of Tulare County. Nonprofit entities receiving assistance can be found at valleystrong.com/relieffund. Valley Strong, rooted in the Valley for more than 80 years, announced early this year it was opening three branches in Tulare County, two in Visalia and one in Tulare. The first one is expected to open in August.

“Local nonprofit entities serve a vital role in our community,” said Steve Renock, president and CEO for Valley Strong. “It is our hope this small gesture will serve as a way to ensure essential activities assisting our local citizens continue during these unprecedented times.”

The bank announced the name change on Feb. 18 to avoid confusion as it prepares to expand outside of Kern County. Last summer, the credit union announced plans to open branches in Visalia and Tulare this summer. The Visalia location will be located in a new retail center on the southwest corner of S. Mooney Blvd. and W. Visalia Parkway. The center, which also includes Flash Chicken, Les Schwab tire center and a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, was approved by the Visalia Planning Commission on April 13. Preliminary plans were filed last summer to build a branch on the south side of the Tulare Target shopping center on Prosperity Avenue.

Valley Strong Credit Union eventually expects to establish branches in as many as nine additional counties in the next decade and a half. Valley Strong Credit Union currently operates 10 branches, serving more than 150,000 individuals, with approximately $1.9 billion in assets. It remains one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in the San Joaquin Valley.

The San Joaquin Valley Health Fund (SJVHF), a community-led funder collaborative working across nine counties in the Valley, is also making vital funding available to nonprofits. Sierra Health Foundation and The California Endowment have seeded the fund with nearly $500,000. While most of the funding goes to farmworker and immigrant families, low-income children, homeless and the LGBTQ community, a portion of the fund has been set aside for nonprofit flexible support. Flexible funding is critical to provide support for nonprofits waiting on funding from federal and state agencies who do not have the ability to respond quickly. Individual and institutions can make donations through the Donate4SJV web site at www.shfcenter.org/sjvhealthfund. For more information, see story on page 4.

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