Corazón Healdsburg is rolling out several programs to help the most vulnerable in the community, low-income families, migrant workers and those in need of fresh food, during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated shelter in place order.
The nonprofit has increased its food distribution program from a twice monthly service to a weekly service, partnered with Farm to Fight Hunger and Farm to Pantry to provide fresh produce and has relaunched its Unity and Community fund, which will be used to fund aid for those who are eligible.
While the nonprofit shifted from in-person to virtual service on March 14, they are perhaps busier than ever.
Corazón CEO Ariel Kelley said their family resource center has experienced an extremely high volume of calls. She said people are asking about how to file for unemployment and even how to file their census.
“There is a lot of conflicting information that is out there in terms of what are essential businesses … school closures. People have questions about how to access information,” Kelley said.
Getting access to fresh food has also been a significant topic.
“We have continued to do our food distribution program and we’ve increased the amount of distribution that we are doing,” Kelley said.
Corazón normally conducts year-round, twice a month food distributions from the Redwood Empire Food Bank at the community center staffed by Corazón.
“We’ve upped that to every week, it is happening every Tuesday at noon and we’ve adopted it so it’s a drive-thru, so people do not get out of their cars unless they walk up, which is allowed, and we are moving boxes into peoples trunks with shelf staple goods and produce,” Kelley said.
“We’ve also layered on a few other programs on top of that,” she said.
Corazón recently partnered with Sonoma Family Meal, a nonprofit that raises funds and pays funds directly to restaurants who then cook meals through their normal staff. The meals are then distributed to people in need.
“Every week on Tuesday we receive up to 50 to 100 meals from Sonoma Family Meal that we distribute during the drive through grocery program,” Kelley explained.
On top of that, Corazón has partnered with Farm to Pantry and Farm to Fight Hunger, two local nonprofits that distribute fresh produce and eggs to those in need.
“People in our community are really blown away when they get real eggs, so that is an awesome benefit,” she said
Corazón is also distributing gift cards to people who need assistance buying medicine, groceries or other needs such as school supplies for distance learning.
“We had a mom ask us recently, who is trying to do schoolwork with her kids at home and they don’t have any type of technology set up, if we would help her buy her printer paper,” Kelley noted.
Corazón was then able to give the mom a gift card in order to purchase printer paper so she could print out and help with her kid’s school work.
The nonprofit is also reintroducing the Unity and Community Fund, which raised funds for those affected by the Kincade Fire in October of 2019.
“We are launching a fund, similar to what we did after the Kincade Fire, to raise funds specifically for coronavirus relief for people who have been impacted either through sickness, work or the school closures,” she said.
$500,000 has been raised so far.
Corazón has opened an application on their website (corazónhealdsburg.org) where individuals can apply for aid (one application per household that is below 120% area median income/AMI ).
The application also asks if those applying have received financial aid or relief from other organizations or funds to determine if someone already has the means of seeking assistance.
“We have a chart on the application that explains what is 120% AMI so people can figure out based on their family size if they qualify,” Kelley said. “We are really hopeful that with these funds we can distribute them out as quickly and efficiently as possible to help folks get through this difficult time.”
What about aid for migrant workers and undocumented community members?
“We would invite all walks of life — vineyard workers, undocumented workers, people who are in restaurant or hospitality jobs, to apply for that fund. People who have the means can apply online, or we can assist them and they can call our resource center and set up an appointment and we can assist them...Many undocumented community members are not eligible for unemployment benefits and so we want to make sure that they are receiving funds to stay afloat at this time.”
For more information about the Unity and Community Fund, visit:https://www.corazonhealdsburg.org/unityfund .
For those seeking financial assistance, applications in English and Spanish are available by email request at info@Corazónhealdsburg.org, via Facebook message at facebook.com/Corazónhealdsburg or by phone at 707-395-0938.