COVID-19 campaign raises more than $1.7 million

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Rochester has contributed more than $1.7 million—including $1 million from ESL Charitable Foundation—to support those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, 24 hours after officials announced a collaborative effort for assistance. 

Monroe County, the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation yesterday announced the establishment of a fund and volunteer opportunities. Commitments, in-kind and volunteer signups have poured in every hour since then.

“The giving nature of Greater Rochester’s people truly shines in moments such as these,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO of ESL Federal Credit Union. “At ESL, we were exploring ways in which we could help the community during these unfamiliar times, and the creation of the Community Crisis Fund became the ideal opportunity to ensure our donation would best be distributed among those who need it most. The team at ESL is committed to doing our part in lifting up those experiencing uncertainty at this time.”

Local foundations joined forces last week to pool and disburse an initial $260,000 to help Foodlink address immediate food insecurities resulting from school closures. The pool included investments from RACF, United Way, Wegmans, Greater Rochester Health Foundation and Farash Foundation. MVP Health and United Way have pledged additional support since then.

“This community does amazing things when we work together,” said Jennifer Leonard, president and CEO of RACF. “As each organization and individual does its part, we make a collective difference that impacts us all.”

United Way and RACF yesterday announced the formation of a Community Crisis Fund in response to the health crisis. Large-scale grants, like the one from ESL Charitable Foundation, enable regular fund distributions on a rolling basis and helps make it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs, United Way notes.

The fund has received donations from community members, who also have been responding to volunteer needs. Nearly 100 volunteers have stepped up so far. The demand for help continues to grow and nonprofits continue to add requests to the United Way portal.

“A moment of crisis says a lot about a person and a community,” said Jaime Saunders, United Way president and CEO. “We have witnessed a meaningful response over the last several days, but we know need will only continue to grow. Our community’s ability to manage and recover from these uncertain times hinges on our commitment to each other.”

Community needs are expected to accelerate as the region grapples with the impact of new coronavirus cases.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.

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