As COVID-19 spreads across Colorado, most of us have begun to practice social distancing: abstaining from group activities, avoiding public spaces and adjusting to working from home.

It’s a new reality.

But for many, the impacts of the virus aren’t just inconvenient — they’re devastating. Some people are unable to work, leaving them uncertain if they’ll be able to afford food or make rent this month.

Others might have to work — whether at a hospital or a police department or a grocery store — but can’t find care for their children who are home from school.

The elderly and immuno-compromised might fear to leave their homes even to get groceries, and those living in homelessness might find it even more difficult to access food or shelter.

Over the coming weeks and months, as this crisis unfolds, many of your neighbors will need help meeting their basic needs, which means that amid the uncertainty enveloping our country, local nonprofits will be essential to solving these problems.

Pikes Peak United Way has always been a convener of organizations providing vital services to our community. Similarly, Pikes Peak Community Foundation, together with more than 200 fund holders, mobilizes resources to support immediate and long-term community needs. And during times of crisis, we know that our role is even more important.

We partner with dozens of organizations that make the Pikes Peak region a better place to live by improving education, income, and health for its residents. But this pandemic is a test of our community’s strength unlike any that we’ve seen in recent memory: Many of the people that the Pikes Peak Community Foundation and Pikes Peak United Way along with their partner organizations have served for years are going to need aid more urgently than ever.

This is where your money is going if you donate to the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s Emergency Relief Funds for El Paso and Teller counties. The two funds, created in partnership with Pikes Peak United Way and the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management, will help our community survive this crisis — and rebuild once we’re through it.

The funds, which are triggered by a locally-declared emergency, provide grants to organizations serving those affected by a natural disaster or crisis.

In this age of online fundraising websites that can be difficult to verify, you can trust that money donated to the Emergency Relief Funds will go where it’s most needed in our community.

Grant recipients will be carefully evaluated by a committee made up of representatives from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, Pikes Peak United Way, the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, as well as a community member who has experienced a disaster.

We are just beginning to see the impact that COVID-19 might have on our community’s most vulnerable, and we know that together we have the power to help.

Because although the nature of this virus demands quarantine and isolation, we also believe that acts of kindness and generosity can keep us close to one another.

For more information about the Emergency Relief Funds, visit: ppcf.org/

Cindy Aubrey is president/CEO of Pikes Peak United Way. Gary Butterworth is CEO of Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

Cindy Aubrey Gary Butterworth is President/CEO of Pikes Peak United Way. Gary Butterworth is CEO of Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

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