Community Emergency Response Grants – May 2020


$25,500 in emergency grants from Williamsburg Community Foundation respond to COVID-19; focus on housing, health for those hardest hit

May 20, 2020, Williamsburg, Va. – Thanks to the generosity of local citizens, the Williamsburg Community Foundation has awarded $25,500 in emergency grants to seven local nonprofit organizations who are helping area residents maintain their health and economic stability during the pandemic. This is the second round of grants from the Community Emergency Response Fund at the Williamsburg Community Foundation; a total of $57,600 has been deployed so far. The Foundation is not charging any fees to the manage the fund. This round of grants continues to focus on food, housing and health needs of those most impacted by the pandemic, particularly those who have lost jobs or who are otherwise vulnerable populations.

Because of COVID-19, many local residents no longer have employment-based health insurance. To help these families and those residents already using the safety net clinics, Rx Drug Access Partnership will use grant funding to cover the cost of mailing prescription medicines to patients from Olde Towne Medical & Dental Center, in order to minimize the risk of exposure and help patients who have limited access to transportation.

Avalon Center will use its grant funding to cover the cost of housing single domestic violence survivors in a local motel, as their typical shelter does not maintain adequate social distancing for these clients. Many Avalon clients are unable to find employment right now, and therefore cannot afford rent, so this program will ensure safe shelter until they are able to find stable employment.

The pandemic has pushed local nonprofits to use their existing resources to respond to new needs, and collaborate in new ways. Williamsburg Faith In Action, which typically serves primarily seniors, will use its grant to support a new partnership with three local nonprofits to deliver food to homebound individuals of any age.  “Faith in Action is taking the lead on organizing these deliveries as the designated point of entry for the coordination of food and supply delivery to these homebound individuals,” notes director Ashleigh Cooke.

Williamsburg House of Mercy continues to address food insecurity for low-income families, as well as the need for housing. With help from the WCF grant, House of Mercy will continue to offer drive-thru mobile food pantry, Community Kitchen takeout meals, as well as emergency housing, reunification services (reuniting individuals with support networks), other homeless services, rapid rehousing, and assistance to families who were facing unstable housing before, during, and after the COVID-19 outbreak and quarantine.

Salvation Army will use its grant to help families with rent, utilities and food, particularly food for high-risk seniors. Notably, Salvation Army has already seen an increase in demand for food, with 70% of that increase from households that have not requested help before the pandemic. As stimulus checks become exhausted, there is a potential for more individuals in need of help with housing costs until the job market improves.

Housing Partnerships will use its grant to help repair homes of low-income families, many of whom cannot afford to make such repairs due to loss of hours or furlough during the pandemic. It is especially important that these aging homes are safe during the quarantine when families spend the majority of time in the home.

Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels will use its grant to feed vulnerable populations, including children. The demand for their services has skyrocketed during the pandemic, says director Cathy Upton.  “Last week we provided about 1,500 meals. In 8 weeks, we have delivered just over 15,000 in our community (normally we provide 29,000 yearly.)”

Community Emergency Response Fund for COVID-19

Kickstarted on March 12 by City of Williamsburg Council Members Benny Zhang and Doug Pons, $178,000 has been raised for the Community Emergency Response Fund thanks to the generosity of 135 local donors. (See the full list of donors here.) Williamsburg Community Foundation board and staff continue to work closely with local nonprofit and government leaders to ensure that these funds are efficiently deployed as grants to those groups who can provide direct services and financial assistance to those most affected, including food, shelter and transportation.

The Foundation plans to distribute the next round of grants in mid-June, and applicants will be invited to apply using a streamlined process to ensure the funds will be used to help local residents as soon as possible. Community volunteers on the Foundation’s Distribution Committee evaluate requests for grant funding and determine recipients. For those interested in applying for other types of grants, not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next grant deadline will be June 17, 2020. Details can be found here, or call the office with questions at 757-259-1660 or email

To make a contribution to the Community Emergency Response Fund, give online at or send a gift to Williamsburg Community Foundation, 1323 Jamestown Road, Suite 103, Williamsburg, VA 23185.