Since the novel Coronavirus (COVID‐19) has come to Washington, it’s brought uncertainty and immediate impacts to health, safety and financial resources for families and small businesses throughout the South Sound Region. Sensing the urgency of the COVID‐19 pandemic, and the immediate impacts being felt in Thurston County and surrounding communities, Olympia Federal Savings (OlyFed) donated $10,000 to the COVID‐19 Response Fund.
“We’ve been a part of this community for 114 years and we thought it was important that we were one of the first to step up and support this vital effort,” says Lori Drummond, president and CEO of OlyFed. “We can already see the health and economic impacts this is having on our friends and neighbors and this is one way we can help make a difference during this trying time.”
“We are so grateful for OlyFed’s leadership and support,” Chris Wells, Executive Director with United Way of Thurston County said. “They are consistently one of the first organizations we call when we need a partner to help with critical issues because they are such a reliable and compassionate community member.”
The Thurston County COVID‐19 Response Fund is the product of a new partnership formed between the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and the United Way of Thurston County in response to dramatic and immediate needs felt within the community.
“In order for our community to successfully navigate the potentially devastating impacts of COVID‐19, strong partnerships are absolutely essential,” says Wells. The Fund is intended to complement the work of public health officials and help nonprofits navigate and address all aspects of the outbreak as efficiently as possible.
“Our organizations knew that the community would need to respond to the COVID‐19 crisis, both to the health and economic impacts,” says Mindie Reule, president and CEO of Community Foundation of South Puget Sound.
The Fund is a consolidated point where money can be raised and distributed to organizations that are on the ground supporting individuals and families who are disproportionately impacted by COVID‐19. Grants to community organizations that are providing resources to the community will happen on a rolling basis as the situation evolves and changes over time. “We want to ensure that dollars are deployed to the community as quickly and responsively as possible,” she adds.
The $10,000 donated by OlyFed is added to generous donations made by the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, the United Way of Thurston County, several anonymous donors, Thurston County, the City of Olympia, the City of Lacey, Premera Blue Cross, Medina Foundation and additional contributions made by other corporate partners and community members.
Checks for the first round of grants have already been written and sent out to organizations helping those with the most immediate and pressing needs.
Community Action Council
The Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties (CAC) has been on the front lines, accepting phone calls and coordinating resources for people who need emergency assistance regarding rent, utilities and other basic needs. Residents of Thurston County that need help can call the CAC on Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 360‐438‐1100 or 1‐800‐878‐5235 to seek assistance.
Thurston County Food Bank
The Thurston County Food Bank has seen a dramatic increase in need for their services, while at the same time, experienced a reduction in available volunteers as more people practice social distancing. The economic impact felt by laid‐off employees, and self‐employed service workers quickly reached the food bank. With a COVID‐19 Response Fund grant, they are planning to hire several part‐time employees to make up for the lost volunteers. These temporary employees are expected to be pulled from some of the many restaurant employees who have been recently laid off.
Senior Services for South Sound
Senior Services for South Sound has been doubly impacted by COVID‐19. They’ve had to close down many programs that provide a segment of their funding. At the same time, need for their essential services has expanded rapidly. With the closure of their communal dining services, more seniors are relying on Meals on Wheels than ever before. And many elders still rely on Senior Services for transportation to essential medical appointments. The grant provided by the COVID‐19 Response Fund will help keep those very important services running.
Catholic Community Services and Interfaith Works
The COVID‐19 Crisis and the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order have impacted those without homes as well. Grants have been made to Catholic Community Services’ Community Kitchen and Interfaith Works to support their efforts to help the population of unhoused individuals.
Meeting Other Needs
Panic buying associated with the COVID‐19 pandemic has made essential supplies like diapers, wipes and baby food more difficult for low‐income families with small children to access. The first round of grants has also been used to purchase emergency baby supplies for those families in need.
Working together, the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound and the United Way of Thurston County continue to identify nonprofits working on the front lines to ensure that support is reaching the most people possible with the most need. They recognize that many nonprofits have been affected by COVID‐19, reducing their resources and revenue.
“It’s such a hard time for us all, but I want to urge readers to continue to support the nonprofits they care about in the community,” says Reule. “They are hurting right now from program closures, decreased revenue from canceling events, and in some cases, ramping up services to meet new and increased needs for those they serve.”
In a time of uncertainty, the strength of the community is tested. OlyFed has a long history with our community and their donation shows a lasting commitment that inspires hope and confidence in the future of the people that make up our community. Individuals and businesses that are able are invited to join with OlyFed and contribute to the Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund
Updates to Olympia Federal Savings services and hours during the COVID‐19 crisis can be found on the OlyFed webpage.