Foundation Grants Help Residents with Food, Shelter, Transportation as Pandemic Continues into the Fall

November 2, 2020, Williamsburg, Va. – Thanks to the support of over 200 local donors, the Williamsburg Community Foundation continues to provide grants from the Community Emergency Response Fund to local nonprofits. In addition, some funding was provided by the Benjamin R. Altshuler Memorial Fund, created to improve access to transportation. The Genevieve K. Meder Fund also supported these grants. Ms. Meder’s fund was established through her will to assist people who are in grave need due to natural disaster, such as the COVID pandemic.

In the fourth round of emergency grant funding this year, five non-profits received a total of $25,000 in grants to provide food, shelter, and financial assistance to local residents who have been impacted by the pandemic:

  • Avalon Center: The grants will be used to continue housing survivors of abuse from the greater Williamsburg area who need to leave home through the spring 2021. The funds will be used for hotel stays, increased cleaning, PPP, rental assistance to rehouse sheltered clients as quickly as possible. Staff will continue to provide support through case management, counseling, legal advocacy and hospital accompaniment, transportation, and life skills training.
  • Community of Faith Mission: As the only emergency winter shelter in the greater Williamsburg area, COFM coordinates with churches to provide a warm place to sleep for homeless individuals. With COVID 19, there are only a few church sites large enough to provide a safe environment, so COFM will use grant funding to cover motel stays for guests when needed. With increased unemployment and a rise in calls to the Housing Crisis Hotline, we anticipate more winter shelter guests this year.
  • Meals on Wheels: Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels will use this grant to meet the increased demand for up to 350 meals per day at shelters, isolation and quarantine sites, Section 8 housing, motels where homeless are located and emergency response facilities. They have seen an increase in referrals from social services to serve families with children, and anticipate that this will continue in the coming months as many residents remain unemployed or under-employed.
  • The Salvation Army: This grant will help purchase food, cleaning items, and gas cards for clients.During COVID-19, emergency assistance requests have increased by 60 % compared with last year — 7,110 people from March through August 2020. Of those that have been assisted, 257 households (representing 907 individuals) are first-time clients.
  • Williamsburg House of Mercy: This grant will help purchase items for the Drive-Thru Food Pantry, Community Kitchen carryout meals, and assist with helping families find and keep stable housing. House of Mercy estimates the immediate financial impact on their existing clients to be around $6,000 of unbudgeted financial burden, per household; this does not account for any unexpected medical bills during this time of pandemic.

Williamsburg Community Foundation plans to distribute another round of Community Emergency Response Fund grants before the end of the year. The WCF Distribution Committee is committed to using the funds to serve the most pressing needs, and will continue to work with local leaders to ensure that the funds are used effectively and efficiently to serve those most impacted by the pandemic.

To learn more about applying for funding, please call the office 757-259-1660 or email


(DONATE to the Community Emergency Response Fund)