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Goal of $1 million set for county response fund

The "Chautauqua County Crisis Response Fund: COVID 19," has been established by the United Ways of Chautauqua County, along with the Chautauqua Region and Northern Chautauqua Community Foundations.

With a goal of $1 million, local organizations have already raised $778,000 in an effort to support those impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

The United Ways of Chautauqua County, along with the Chautauqua Region and Northern Chautauqua Community Foundations, announced the Chautauqua County Crisis Response Fund: COVID 19.

Tory Irgang, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation executive director, said the majority of the fundraising took place less than a week after video conference calls with donors.

“I have the great honor of talking to all of your about the generation hearts that exist in this community,” Irgang said. “Less than a week ago, last Tuesday morning, we convened as many funders that we could get on a call and that’s pretty unprecedented that regardless of where they were geographically located in the middle of still snow-bird season I had representatives from almost every foundation in Chautauqua County and even those who fund in our county but are not physically located here on a call.”

Community leaders held a video conference Monday to announce and detail the purpose of the fund in response to the impact of the novel coronavirus on the surrounding community.

Nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply for funding through the response fund.

“Everyone has contributed in a way that is sacrificial and meaningful from their organization and they’ve done so in an unprecedented, fast turn-around time,” Irgang said.

The fund has been dedicated to general operational support that relates to flexible funds to help individuals and families; food security, service for older adults; child care services; mental health and well-being; and other basic human needs.

Current partners of the fund include the Carnahan-Jackson Foundation, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Cummins Foundation, Holmberg Foundation, Lenna Foundation, the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr Foundation, the United Way of Northern Chautauqua County and the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County.

“This truly is a county-wide effort as we come together to assist organizations working to serve the rapidly changing needs of our community,” said Amy Rohler, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County executive director. “This fund is a coordinated response to meet both the emergency, immediate need of today, and the intermediate to long-term needs that are not yet known.”

Rohler said the fund is committed to providing funding to those organizations who have been accepted through the application process within a week. Rohler also said current funds are available now.

A second phase of the fund is being organized to assist organizations and individuals as the virus and its impact subsides in the coming months. The purpose then will be to “strategically distributed to promote a return to normalcy for residents and for restoration of affected organizations.”

Additionally, a Crisis Fund Decision Committee was formed to geographically represent the entire county. Members of the decision committee include chairperson Vince Horrigan, Kathy Burch, Linda Swanson, Randy Ordines, Lori Jafarijan, Dana Lundberg, Tyler Gotowka, Willie Rosas and Rachel Foley.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, who participated in the video conference Monday, praised the efforts of local organizations to try to combat the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

“This is really an unprecedented time that we are living in right now and to see the outpouring of support from the community to help each other to help these agencies that are working with some of the most needed populations right now is an incredible thing,” Sundquist said. “I really want to encourage everyone, especially not even in the city of Jamestown, but across Chautauqua County that if they have a little extra to give to please give. This is an incredible fund.”

Individuals can donate as well by visiting givegab.com/campaigns/chautauqua-county-crisis-response-fund.

Organizations can apply for funding at chautauquagrants.org.

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