Southern Indiana community outreach groups partner to support families in need

Published in the News and Tribune on April 24, 2020
By John Boyle

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Every dollar matters for many families battling through the financial situation created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many Hoosiers have found themselves out of work, as social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders have caused shutdowns of entire industries. To make matters worse, an overwhelmed unemployment benefits system has led to delays in payments to some individuals.

Such circumstances have put working families in a bind. Providing support in these trying times have been area community outreach programs.

One organization extending a helping hand is Community Action of Southern Indiana (CASI). Earlier this week, an Emergency COVID-19 Assistance fund was announced by the group.

“This virus has caused a tremendous burden on the whole community,” CASI Executive Director Phil Ellis said. “This is what we do. Anytime a person is in need, we’re here to help… We want to continue to step up to face those needs. Whatever we can do to help our community through this situation and to rebound, that’s what we’re here to do.”

The organization is working with $6,550 to provide assistance to families in need. The seed money was supplied by a grant from the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana (CFSI).

CFSI is helping to fund similar efforts across the region, utilizing its COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund. Since the crisis started, over $320,000 has been distributed back into the community, with CFSI crediting the generosity of individuals, businesses, local governments and other partners in the area.

“During times like this it is important for all of us to come together to support our community and organizations like Community Action of Southern Indiana,” CFSI President and CEO Linda Speed said. “As this community’s partner in philanthropy, we felt it was our responsibility to play an important role in helping get our community through this challenging time and shine a light on organizations addressing the basic needs of those who are under additional strain due to the pandemic, which is why we opened our COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund… The more we all come together now, the better off our community will be, now and in the future.”

Ellis said that the $6,550 will be given out in payments of $25 for individuals or $50 for families. Those who qualify for the funding will be given the money on a gift card that can be used at local stores.

The money is aimed at those who are in need of basic household items.

“The majority is going to be used for food,” Ellis said. “It’s designed for persons who are in dire need of groceries. Of course, this is to hold people over until they get to food bank, so we don’t have persons out here hungry.”

Ellis noted that there will also be funding for health insurance premiums and other medical costs, like prescriptions.

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate need and prove they are a resident of either Clark or Floyd counties. The application process isn’t meant to be too restrictive.

Applications can be found online at CASI’s website, or residents can contact the agency by phone or email. There are also information boxes set up at the entrance of CASI in Jeffersonville, where paper copies can be picked up.

“It’s a very streamlined application, because we’re trying to get this money out as soon as possible,” Ellis said.

It takes roughly an hour to receive approval, Ellis noted. The funding, he added, isn’t going to last long.

Moving forward, he hopes that more money will be made available for the cause, once the initial pool has dried up.

“Hopefully, there will be more funding,” he said. “But we want to address the immediate crisis. I’m just hoping that we’ll be able to receive additional funding from the federal and state level, or from other organizations to help us support the community.”

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