Community Chest convenes meetings with Port organizations

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Photo by Betsy Liegey

f Port Washington residents as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Community Chest of Port Washington is convening community leaders including representatives from the Town of North Hempstead, Port Washington School District, PW Public Library, PW Police, the PW Crisis Relief Team, PW Parent’s Council, community and faith-based organizations to address the many relief needs created by the coronavirus. The working group meets at least weekly to pivot as needs shift.

To date the following has been accomplished: The Port Washington COVID-19 Community Response Fund has been initiated, four community and faith-based organizations are working collectively to provide food and services to all PW families who are in need, Helping Hands for Seniors, a free shopping and delivery program is up and running, the PW Mask Brigade is hard at work making 1,000 washable masks and a resource and volunteer efforts listing is on-line at www.portchest.org.

The Port Washington COVID-19 Community Response Fund is being used to make COVID-19 emergency grants for food needs, housing costs and other expenses to existing community and faith-based organizations that have strong experience supporting local families. The COVID-19 Community Response Fund is hosted and administered by the Community Chest of Port Washington and is seeded with $100,000 from the Community Chest.  As of the end of April, the Fund is at $240,000

Donations for the PW COVID-19 Community Response Fund are being collected through the Community Chest website and a Certified Charity GoFundMe campaign https://bit.ly/2WUAKQG.  Every dollar is going to the needs of families here in Port.

As of now, four organizations have been identified (Our Lady of Fatima, Outreach; St. Peter of Alcantara, Social Ministry, Littig House Community Center and the Port Washington Parent Resource Center, Outreach) as providing critical needs for approximately 350 at-risk Port Washington families and who have begun to receive emergency funding. That number grows each day.

The Community Chest’s free shopping and no-contact delivery service called “Helping Hands for Seniors,” is currently helping 25 seniors who are home-bound. The program, which has a much larger capacity, was created because members of our community, specifically older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions have been advised to stay at home. Those unable to procure food, medication or other essentials should contact the  Helping Hands program at 516-767-2121 or email info@portchest.org.

This program would not be possible without the assistance of the PW Crisis Relief Team and other community volunteers. Residents who need kosher food should contact info@chabadpw.org or call 516-322-4322.

In its effort to make sure our seniors are being cared for we are encouraging all residents ages 60 or older to call 311 or 869-6311 to register for “Project Independence,” a program of the Town of North Hempstead.

Once registered, Project Independence assigns someone who can help with transportation, food, entitlement benefits and other needs. Go to https://northhempsteadny.gov/PI-About to find out more about Project Independence.

As the People of Port Helping the People of Port, the Community Chest wants all of us to be aware of our neighbors who are fragile seniors and others who may need help.

Either call or knock on the door and ask if they need anything.  If you can’t help them with what they need, refer them to one of Port Washington’s Outreach organizations: Our Lady of Fatima, 516-883-3903 or St. Peter of Alcantara, 516-883-0365.

To ensure that the food needs of all Port’s students are being met, the Port Washington School District is providing breakfast and lunch to all students (and their pre-school siblings) regardless of income level, at five locations in Port Washington: Schreiber H.S., Daly School, Our Lady of Fatima Church, Harbor Homes and at the Port Washington CAC, 382 Main Street. Buses stay at the pickup locations from 7:00 AM to noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Friday’s pickup includes meals for the weekend. If parents are not able to pick up meals, they should call 767-2121 and the Community Chest will arrange for a volunteer to pick up and deliver the meals to your home.

The Community Chest has received generous donations of face masks from M & G Packaging and Rich Frankel and hand sanitizers from PM Pediatrics.  Concurrently, the Community Chest has launched the “PW Mask Brigade,” an army of seamstresses and fabric donors to make 1,000 washable fabric face masks for Port’s at-risk families.

Once the masks are sewn, Spectrum Suds, a program of Spectrum Designs Foundation will be washing the 3-layer fabric face masks for Port’s at-risk families.  Community Chest Executive Director Julie Meer is grateful: “People are putting in hundreds of hours to help their neighbors in need.  I’d especially like to thank Betsy Liegey who coordinated this whole project, Tracy Lefkowitz, our technical guru and MichelleShain.net our logo designer.” If you are interested in joining the PW Mask Brigade, contact the Community Chest at 767-2121 or email info@portchest.org.

Our list of partners in the relief effort has increased with the addition of PW School District Parent’s Council co-chair Julie Epstein, who has her team of parents working on fundraisers for the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, and donations of food and paper and personal care items for the pantries in town. Specifically, they’ve held a successful Bingo event on Sunday, April 26th and have residential collection bins all over town to collect non-perishable items for Port’s three food pantries.

Finally, the Community Chest has an online listing at www.portchest.org of local resources for residents and community-based projects, including ways for volunteers to become involved and contact info for next steps.  Residents are encouraged to share other projects at info@portchest.org for inclusion on the resource list.

Grants to community and faith-based nonprofits are made on a rolling basis.  As fundraising continues through the outbreak and recovery phases of the crisis, the Fund will adapt to emerging needs as the situation evolves.

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