Following the first named storm of the season and the official start of the 2018 hurricane season, partners of Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund are prepared to once again activate the Relief Fund if disaster strikes.
Last year, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund granted more than $3.56 million to 33 Northeast Florida nonprofits providing disaster-relief services. Through this, more than 253,231 individuals and households were served.
“The generosity of our community in that time of crisis – neighbors helping neighbors – was incredible,” said Michelle Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida, the fiscal agent and grant manager for the Relief Fund. “We are so thankful for the individuals, corporations and partners who came together to heal Northeast Florida.”
Created in 2016 to aid with Hurricane Matthew relief and to establish a permanent disaster relief fund, Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund is a strategic collaboration founded by United Way of Northeast Florida, United Way of St. Johns County, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.
Each year, Mayor Lenny Curry and his team have been integral to the launch and success of the Relief Fund, encouraging donors to generously support the fund and other important relief efforts.
The Relief Fund supports immediate and intermediate unmet needs. One hundred percent of all donations go to relief efforts. Nearly $3.8 million was raised for Hurricane Irma relief. The Relief Fund’s remaining $200,000 will be available for immediate response for future disasters.
“We are deeply grateful for the foundations, corporations and individuals who recognized the need and delivered in substantial ways,” said Nina Waters, president of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.
Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund distributes grants only to organizations helping individuals and households impacted by natural disasters in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties. The Relief Fund provides resources to meet needs not met by insurance, FEMA, or other state and federal programs or to fill the gap while other long-term assistance is being put in place.
“Being able to quickly activate the fund is crucial to saving lives and getting our community on the road to recovery,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, which kick-started the fund in 2016 with a $500,000 commitment.
After Hurricane Irma, the top three relief needs fell into the following categories: rent and mortgage assistance; home/nonprofit stabilization and repair; and food. All distributions from the Relief Fund are overseen by a committee comprised of representatives of the Relief Fund partners, the City of Jacksonville, Mayo Clinic and the Jaguars Foundation.
While the Relief Fund activities are winding down from Hurricane Irma, long-term recovery efforts are scaling up.
“There are still people who are not completely back on track following Irma,” said Michael Boylan, chair of the Northeast Florida Long Term Recovery Organization. “These long-term needs are why we are working hard to build out a robust LTRO for Northeast Florida.”
For more information, on the LTRO, visit duvaldisasterrecovery.org.
Meanwhile, nonprofits in the area, spearheaded by the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, are working to become better prepared for disasters, including the establishment of a Community Organizations Active in Disaster coalition, or COAD.
For more information on Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund, including the official Hurricane Irma report, please visit unitedwaynefl.org/relieffund/reporting. Any inquiries related to the report can be emailed to Sarah Henderson, United Way’s director of marketing and communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations to the Relief Fund are accepted at any time.
A comprehensive list of emergency resources is available here and updated, as needed, pending any imminent disasters: unitedwaynefl.org/emergency.
United Way’s 2-1-1 is a free information and referral hotline available 24 hours, seven days a week to connect callers to emergency resources, including disaster-relief efforts.