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The Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation have awarded the first grants from their COVID-19 Response Initiative. The foundations issued 11 grants, totaling more than $220,000, to relieve strain on key health and human-service organizations that are aiding residents hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Services supported include emergency childcare for first responders, rental assistance for families recovering from homelessness, and virtual healthcare for high-risk patients. 

The grants awarded through the foundations’ COVID-19 Response Initiative include:

Healthcare

CenterPlace Health

$20,000 to continue providing primary care to Sarasota County’s underserved and uninsured, including pregnant mothers and children, through telehealth services. Virtual visits will ensure patients continue to receive care without risking exposure to the coronavirus or putting clinical staff at risk. 

First Step of Sarasota

$26,000 to ensure high-risk individuals in addiction recovery can continue to access counseling, therapy, psychiatric services, and other supports through telemedicine. The grant will fund laptop computers so clinicians can work remotely with patients. 

Multicultural Health Institute

$5,000 to expand its health information outreach in the Newtown area to vulnerable populations most at risk for COVID-19. MHI works closely with the elderly and those with chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension/heart disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS. 

Basic Needs 

Family Promise of South Sarasota County

$25,000 for rent assistance to help low-income families who have overcome homelessness remain stably housed during the crisis. Many families served by the agency have lost jobs in industries hit hard by the pandemic, while the trauma of their past experience would make a return to homelessness devastating. 

Harvest House

$4,650 to buy laptop computers so staff can transition to remote work and continue to provide case management for residents overcoming homelessness or addiction. Their desktop PCs also will be reconfigured for safe use by those same clients for job searching and other needs. 

HOPE for North Port

$500 for food-pantry assistance at Hope Community Church, one of the few food distribution sites in North Port, where demand has doubled and clients are traveling from as far as Lee and Manatee counties. This grant comes from the Helen K. Hadden Memorial Endowment Fund at Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

Jobs and Financial Security

Women's Resource Center 

$21,500 to provide women critical counseling sessions and social support through enhanced telecommunications. Reemployment counseling is expected to be one of the biggest demands since WRC has been forced to move to all virtual programming.

Gulfcoast Legal Services

$1,000 to support software for securely transmitting sensitive client data via email. The technology will help the agency continue providing pro bono legal aid to vulnerable populations for issues such as domestic violence, housing evictions, financial insecurity, and immigration services.

Capital Good Fund

$30,000 to launch a new Crisis Relief Loan program that provides highly flexible, low-interest loans to Sarasota County residents most at risk from predatory lenders. The loans include a “pay it forward” component, as repaid principal and interest rolls back into the loan fund so more loans can be funded to help other families in crisis. This grant is funded through Gulf Coast’s Financial Sustainability Initiative Fund. 

First Responders

SKY Family YMCA

$50,000 to provide childcare for essential healthcare and emergency-response employees. As demand for the roles of first responders increases and school closures have left no place for their children to go during the day, childcare has become one of their greatest needs.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County

$40,000 to launch its First Responder Program to provide free childcare to local first responders employed by Sarasota County Fire Department, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and Sarasota Police Department

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