8th Round CERF Grants

Williamsburg Community Foundation recently awarded $33,600 in grants from the Community Emergency Response Fund, which was established last year to support basic needs such as food and shelter, resulting from the pandemic.

This is the 8th round of grants awarded from this fund, which was made possible by hundreds of local residents who gave generously in response to the pandemic. Over $250,000 has been raised so far; $227,000 has been distributed, with additional support of $16,342 in grants from three funds held by the Foundation: the Genevieve K. Meder Fund, the Benjamin R. Altshuler Memorial Fund, and an anonymous family fund.

Avalon Center will use its $3,600 grant to provide emergency shelter and support services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Avalon reports that during the pandemic, calls to the 24-hour helpline have doubled, and referrals from local police increased by 50%. Avalon offers safe housing and support services (counseling, legacy advocacy, help finding a job and permanent housing.) The shelter has six two-bedroom apartments for women with children and a 12-15 bed communal shelter building for single adults. According to Avalon, clients are staying in shelter for longer periods of time due to COVID-19 because they cannot find affordable housing and, in some cases, they cannot find childcare that will allow them to go to work in the shift jobs for which they qualify. If you would like to volunteer at Avalon, please visit their website, Avaloncenter.org to learn more.

Community of Faith Mission, now in its 10th season, will use its $5,000 grant to add additional safety measures for staff, volunteers, and guests at the winter homeless shelter which will be open for a full 18 weeks again this year in partnership with local congregations. This includes a medical screening tent staffed by medical personnel. COFM is now recruiting volunteers for its winter season. To volunteer, please email opsmanager@cofm.info.

FISH continues to provide food and clothing to its clients during the pandemic. With this $5,000 grant, FISH will serve people in need, many of whom are new clients due to the pandemic. FISH is an all-volunteer organization; learn more about volunteering by visiting Williamsburgfish.weebly.com/ or call 757-220-9379. FISH is currently accepting donations of food and hygiene items at its location, 312 Waller Mill Road. If you’re planning a large food drive, please contact Donation Coordinator John Ellis, jje7367@yahoo.com  to arrange delivery.

Grove Christian Outreach Center will use its grant of $5,000 to provide food and financial assistance to low-income individuals and families in the Grove area. Financial assistance can be for utility bills, rent or mortgage, auto repairs, medical expenses or prescriptions. The staff at Grove report that they are seeing more and more residents who have utility bills that are well above the agency’s assistance limit of $300, often because the bills were unpaid due to lost/reduced wages because of COVID-related illness or quarantine. If you’d like to donate food or volunteer at Grove, please call (757) 887-1100.

Williamsburg Faith in Action received a grant of $5,000 to support delivery of food from food pantries to clients in the area who are homebound, without transportation, and often in financial hardship because of the pandemic. Requests for food pantry delivery is nearly 250% greater than before the pandemic, averaging about 56 deliveries per month. To volunteer for Faith in Action, please visit their website, WFIA.org, or call (757) 258-5890.

Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels will use its $5,000 grant to provide nutritious meals to vulnerable adults and families. Community nutrition needs have not subsided yet, according to Director Cathie Upton, who anticipates that in 2021 they will deliver over 100,000 meals – the highest ever in their 48 years of service. With the help of their new meal preparation facility at the Williamsburg Indoor Sports Complex (WISC), they have been able to handle this demand. In addition, Meals on Wheels provided bagged lunches to school children who received Free/Reduced lunches, delivering to area motels and section 8 housing daily during the summer. They also continue to serve up to 84 families who have been referred to Meals on Wheels for evening meals, twice a week. If you would like to volunteer, please visit Williamsburgmealsonwheels.com.

Williamsburg House of Mercy will use its $5,000 grant to support the Bridge to Home program, providing emergency shelter nights (typically motel stays). The pandemic has caused a huge increase in need for emergency shelter. “With the pandemic’s effects still being felt among the poor, we anticipate a sustained increase this year,” notes Nicole Lancour of House of Mercy. “Every day, we are seeing new families and individuals who are experiencing homelessness for the first time. We have anywhere between 20-40 individuals in emergency shelter on an average week.” Emergency shelter is the first phase of stabilization for these clients, who can then begin to work with Mercy Housing to find permanent solutions. This past fiscal year Mercy Housing’s case managers have helped 136 individuals move into permanent housing. To volunteer at House of Mercy, visit Williamsburghouseofmercy.org.

How to Apply for a Grant

The Foundation typically awards competitive grants twice a year. The next opportunity to apply for funding is for grants to be awarded in March of 2022, with a deadline of Dec. 16, 2021. All application materials and guidelines can be found at WilliamsburgCommunityFoundation.org; click “Receive” then “Apply for a Grant.” If the organization has never received a grant from WCF, they should contact the foundation office for guidance before beginning a new application. Contact Nancy Sullivan, Executive Director, at 757-259-1660 or email ncsullivan@williamsburgcommunityfoundation.org.