FROM PHILANTHROPY’S FRONT LINES
By HARRY LEVINE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
We first announced the creation of the COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund in this newspaper on April 21. We had not intended to start our public life this way, but the need for such a fund was obvious to us and we felt a deep responsibility to join those already fighting the pandemic.
What we can now report is that the community, the entire community, has risen to the same call and joined us.
Here are a few points:
• You have contributed over $200,000 in less than two months.
• Awards have been granted to 12 nonprofits for a total of $60,000.
• Another 12 applications are being reviewed right now.
• More than 250 individuals and families have joined in supporting the fund.
• Another 20 organizations have endorsed the fund, including the county Board of Representatives, our Congressman (Antonio Delgado), our state Assemblyman (John Salka), our state Senator (Jim Seward), and six local town boards.
We are awarding every $1 received to help alleviate the crisis. The costs of the Fund are being absorbed entirely by the Community Foundation of Otsego County.
Some funds are being reserved to help small businesses restart. But even these funds will be allocated quickly as the need far exceeds the size of the Fund.
We wish we could award two or three times the amounts we have been able to distribute. We are encouraging applicants to return for more, if we have more. Certainly, the need is there.
This can be done if everyone of us helps out. If you have not yet contributed to the COVID-19 Fund or if you are able to make a second contribution (some donors have actually made three contributions), please do so now. Go to our website at www.cfotsego.org for a list of awards and donation instructions.
We cannot write this report without noting that our local governments and our hospitals (and all those people who work at these institutions) have done a tremendous job meeting the pandemic head on.
They have prepared well. They have coordinated actions and publicized consistent messages, allowing all of us to behave with confidence and take personal actions to protect ourselves and our neighbors.
We see face masks in use more often than not. Spacing between us is generally in line with public health guidelines. Shoppers at grocery stores are respectful of proper distancing.
As a result, the health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been relatively under control.
We have had serious illnesses and even deaths. But our health system has not been overwhelmed as it has been in other parts of the country. And health workers have been there for us when they are needed.
Economically, however, we are likely to suffer worse than many other areas. Our economy is heavily dependent upon tourism and upon the summer season of public events. In financial terms, this summer will be a disaster.
We already have seen the signs of closed businesses. Personal income is down. Small businesses are going to struggle to reopen. Sales taxes, bed taxes, allocations from State and Federal budgets are going to be cut back, putting budgetary pressure on our local governments. The future is going to be hard.
In this light, the Community Foundation of Otsego County sees an immediate need being addressed by the COVID-19 Fund and a longer-term mission to continue supportive efforts to tackle the challenges of our area.
Today, we are focused on fighting the pandemic, but there will be a tomorrow and we intend to be there to continue working to improve the lives of those who live in our community.
Please join us and donate today. Your money is being well spent and much appreciated. Stay with us tomorrow as we work to improve the quality of life in our area.