3 Big Ways Hope for New York Is Supporting Our Affiliates
In a typical season in NYC, the network of 60+ HFNY affiliates are a lifeline for over one million New Yorkers. Providing food, housing, addiction recovery care, ESL and literacy programs, free legal services and much more, these organizations help provide critical services for those who are hungry, homeless or vulnerable. With the COVID-19 season, the need for HFNY affiliate programs has intensified and grown.
To ensure that HFNY affiliates are resourced and equipped for this critical work, HFNY’s program team has deployed every aspect of the HFNY model to swiftly respond to the evolving needs on the ground. Here's how HFNY’s model to provide funding, volunteers, and network and capacity building support is being activated and contextualized in the COVID-19 era:
1- We're providing critical Relief Grants to HFNY Affiliates
By creating the HFNY Relief Fund, we're providing our affiliates an additional opportunity to receive grant funding. Typically, affiliates are able to apply once a year for HFNY grant funds, but given the scope of the needs and the significant relief efforts our affiliates are providing, we're releasing this additional grant funding opportunity. These grants will cover costs for meals and food pantries, housing and shelter programs, addiction recovery programs, afterschool programs, career guidance, literacy programs, etc. The first round of grant funds will be disbursed by April 20, with additional rounds of grants being disbursed throughout May, depending on fund availability. We are so grateful for the generosity of the HFNY donor community towards the Relief Fund!
Examples of what the HFNY Relief Grants will fund:
- Since New York City has asked for everyone to “shelter in place," those without shelter are turning to HFNY affiliates for shelter and refuge. Demand for shelter has exponentially increased, but there is a growing fear from our homeless neighbors about entering into the large city-run shelters where the risk for COVID-19 exposure is greater than in a private shelter.
- Even though officials are encouraging everyone to “wash hands," many public places with sinks and showers have closed. This means the homeless and vulnerable are turning to HFNY affiliates to get clean, so we have helped foster partnerships with organizations that provide mobile hand washing stations, mobile shower units and critical PPE (masks, gloves etc.) for staff and volunteers.
- While many New Yorkers are settling into a new normal of working from home, those who have been laid off are now turning to HFNY affiliates for groceries, to-go meals, and other critical food supplies. Many affiliates have seen demand more than double for meal programs and home delivery for food pantry groceries in the last few weeks as unemployment numbers continue to increase.
2- We're hosting weekly Virtual Affiliate Convenings and Prayer Calls
We believe in collaborating with our affiliates and also encouraging them to collaborate with each other. To help everyone stay connected, we began hosting weekly prayer calls and affiliate convenings. In the same vein as our typical in-person network and capacity building sessions, these convenings allow our affiliates to share prayer requests, resources, ideas and best practices in order to magnify their collective impact. The convenings also include consultants to help them understand and navigate the complicated guidelines around long-term funding. The topics that these virtual convenings cover include: re-imagining programs and volunteer engagement; understanding how to access federal funds through the Paycheck Protection Program; fundraising best practices; and self-care/preventing burnout for affiliate staff and volunteers. Our Programs Team has also created a Google Group to keep affiliates unified and informed of additional resources available for nonprofits.
3- We're mobilizing volunteers to continue serving
Our volunteers are actively engaging with affiliate needs by serving on the ground (for meal distribution programs and other critical in-person programs) as well as by serving virtually. The specific volunteer opportunities are vetted by HFNY staff and then communicated out to HFNY’s wide network via email and the COVID-19 Urgent Needs page. Our staff continue to work with affiliates to re-imagine volunteering in this new era, which has included requests for volunteers to pray, provide tangible goods (e.g. cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves), and volunteer online. So far, donors have provided 30K+ masks to our affiliates, volunteers and church partners have served virtually or in-person across the affiliate network and beyond, including a last-minute Samaritan's Purse call to build a Field Hospital in Central Park.
Please continue to pray, serve, and give during the COVID-19 crisis. We are encouraged by the Stories of Hope that our affiliates and volunteers are sharing, and we want to continue bringing hope and renewal to our city!
Photo by Brittany Buongiorno.