Three days before the mandated closures of restaurants, bars, churches and libraries, the Pikes Peak Community Foundation activated an emergency relief fund.

With $250,000 from the Colorado Springs Health Foundation to disperse among nonprofit agencies in El Paso and Teller counties, PPCF focused on funding immediate needs.

For Teller Senior Coalition, a $5,000 grant will ensure the continuation of transportation by cover the cost of drivers hired to take clients to medical appointments and pick up medications, said Kathy Lowry, TSC’s executive director. “The funds are really helpful since some of our funding sources may be delayed.”

For Community Partnership Family Resource Center, a $25,000 grant from the foundation is going out as fast as it came in, spent on providing assistance for families caught in the crisis.

“We are proud to be an agency that our community trusts and turns to during a very scary time, and are grateful for this opportunity to continue serving our community,” said Jodi Mijares, the organization’s executive director.

The funds, as well as the recipients, reflect the nature of the crisis in both counties.

“In this kind of emergency, the initial needs are the most critical,” said Gary Butterworth, chief executive officer of PPCF. “The review committee is prioritizing basic human needs of food, shelter and access to health care, medical supplies and safety as a result of the impact of the coronavirus.”

As a result of the restrictions on public convening and access, the funds are intended to focus on the counties’ most vulnerable populations. “Certainly, those would be seniors and people with pre-existing respiratory conditions,” Butterworth said.

As the crisis worsens with daily reports of increases in infections and deaths, the PPCF is focused on two aspects. “One of the objectives of this fund is to be a single trusted source where businesses, citizens and foundations can make a contribution and know that the dollars will get out to the nonprofits that are most impacted by the coronavirus,” Butterworth said.

And the foundation is taking a long-term view of the impacts on the region. “One of the challenges to any disaster is the initial impact and then there is recovery, which could be from three to six months down the road to several years,” Butterworth said.

For the foundation, there’s a balance to consider. “We are trying to understand and respond to both the immediate and the recovery,” Butterworth said. “When we get through the initial blast, we want to also be available to continue to educate the community and provide financial support, particularly for nonprofits.”

Contributions to the Teller County Emergency Relief Fund as well as applications for grant assistance are available at the website: “We are focusing on these initial weeks on what is happening today,” he said. “We know that nonprofits have had to cancel events, that fundraising is virtually nonexistent, except for those organizations that are on the front lines delivering services to the most vulnerable communities.”

The Colorado Springs Health Foundation was established in 2012 through the City of Colorado Springs’s lease of Memorial Health System to UCHealth. The Foundation’s mission is to provide grants that target immediate healthcare needs and encourage healthy living.

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