By Patrick Cisler, Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance
Stimulus checks from the federal government started to arrive in the bank accounts or mailboxes of Ottawa County residents over the past week. These funds are vital for those who are currently unemployed or underemployed, struggling with food security, or facing unexpected financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority of American households will need their stimulus funds to cover basic expenses over the next couple of months. While we know the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t yet been revealed, we’ve already seen initial implications for our economy. The nonprofit sector has seen and felt the impact, too, with requests for services like food assistance rapidly increasing.
What about those households who are in a stable financial position, but receive a stimulus check which they may not need? To those people, we humbly ask you to consider sharing the stimulus.
A coalition of nonprofit and government leaders here in Ottawa County believe that small, intentional acts of investment in our local community can help us all emerge stronger from the other side of this. That’s why we’ve created the #ShareTheStimulus campaign.
Sharing the stimulus can take any number of forms. For some, it’s ordering carry-out from your favorite local restaurants and leaving generous tips for the servers. You can purchase goods or gift cards online from a small business. Perhaps you’ve noticed people in your circle of influence who are struggling and want to give directly to them.
Another option is to make a financial gift directly to a nonprofit of your choice, or a contribution to the Emergency Human Needs Funds set-up by The Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area, The Grand Haven Community Foundation, and Greater Ottawa County United Way. Donations to the Emergency Human Needs Funds are distributed in real-time to support the incredible agencies who are keeping people fed, housed, and healthy during this pandemic.
To date, over $534,000 has been distributed from the Emergency Human Needs Fund. Generous contributions from our community, along with seed money from the three founding agencies, made this impact possible. Grants are helping Community Action House pack food boxes that support two people for a week. They are helping Mosaic Counseling continue to offer mental health services to their clients by adapting to remote sessions. They are helping Children’s Advocacy Center remain available to children and their families affected by abuse. A full list of agencies receiving grants is available at careottawacounty.com.
Sharing the stimulus, whether you choose to order food, buy a gift card, help a neighbor, or support the mission of a nonprofit, ensures our community can bounce back from these challenging times. The need is great, and the time is now. Please join us if you can and #ShareTheStimulus.
Patrick Cisler is executive director of the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance, an organization which works to strengthen the ability of more than 150 member nonprofit organizations to successfully accomplish their missions by working together.