LAKEWOOD, Ohio — The Healthy Lakewood Foundation is designed to donate funds annually to programs and entities making a difference in the community.
However, due to the pandemic, the nonprofit community foundation has increased its contributions to roughly a quarterly fashion. The latest round includes four approved grants related to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Because this is a temporary crisis response strategy, we’re trying to be as responsive as possible,” Healthy Lakewood Foundation Board President Jeanine Gergel said. “All of our board members are talking to folks all of the time.
“We’re approaching nonprofits, government leaders, friends and neighbors trying to identify where the needs are. We’re making grants on a more frequent basis than we will be in the future when the pandemic has subsided.”
The latest round includes $35,000 to Lakewood Community Services Center for food assistance. This marks the third time the agency has received a Healthy Lakewood Foundation donation.
“We all know how tough things are right now for people,” Gergel said.
Other grants include respective $25,000 donations to the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland for services and outreach to Lakewood residents, as well as the YMCA of Greater Cleveland to support school-day care for Lakewood’s elementary school-age children while learning is remote or hybrid.
“Legal Aid Society of Cleveland serves a number of Lakewood residents facing evictions because they can’t pay their rent or folks who have utilities cut off,” Gergel said.
“Also, the YMCA has stepped up in a big way for Lakewood and established child care during the school day where school-age children were remote. Not every family feels comfortable leaving their child alone at home and not every family has the luxury to have parents who work from home.”
In addition, the Healthy Lakewood Foundation is providing the Barton Senior Center with $4,000 toward its internet connectivity pilot program to serve senior residents of the Westerly apartments.
“We wanted to support their efforts to try to help seniors get connected to the internet using hot spot connections and teaching them how to use the devices,” Gergel said. “It’ll help with their social isolation. They can also schedule health appointments and shop online for groceries or other items.”
Lakewood Department of Human Services Director Toni Gelsomino said all of the new grant donations will have a positive impact on residents. In particular, the relatively small contribution to the Barton Senior Center and senior residents of the Westerly apartments will go a long way.”
“COVID has shown us how critical access is to the internet and affordable connectivity devices are for all residents in our community,” Gelsomino said.
“We knew that our children and their families needed to be connected for remote learning; however, we’ve learned that our older residents are limited from connecting with family and friends and ‘zooming,’ accessing information or even registering for a vaccine without these resources. I applaud the Barton Center project.”
The next round of Healthy Lakewood Foundation grants has yet to be determined, but Gergel said the nonprofit is doing its due diligence in the community.
“We want to be quick and responsive as needed,” Gergel said.
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