By Melanie Cost, Jessie Ball duPont Fund
For the more than 1,800 homeless men, women and children in Northeast Florida, the COVID-19 pandemic is making already difficult circumstances even harder.
Critical services from providers, including Trinity Rescue Mission, which is currently operating in four locations throughout Jacksonville and provides more than 110,000 shelter nights each year, are more in demand than ever.
Trinity Rescue Mission recently received one one of the first grants from Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund. This grant is supporting Trinity Rescue Mission’s efforts to increase its services to support of our region’s homeless community in these even more trying time.
Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund was created in 2016 to help nonprofit organizations serve individuals and families in need during a community crisis. To help those most affected by COVID-19 disruption, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Jewish Federation and Foundation of Northeast Florida, United Way of Northeast Florida and United Way of St. Johns County re-activated the Relief Fund March 16.
The Relief Fund is providing much-needed resources to struggling families by supporting local organizations, like JFCS, who deliver essential human services to residents disproportionately burdened by this public health crisis.
“The coronavirus has put an incredible stress on the homeless community and on those who help to serve them,” said Gary Judd, executive director of Trinity Rescue Mission. The organization is continuing to serve the more than 250 men, women and children who are regular residents of its shelters.
In response to the pandemic, Trinity Rescue Mission has increased its available services, including isolating the most vulnerable homeless population at a separate location. It has also taken extra recommended steps to help the homeless, including implementing social distancing, increasing already stringent hygiene guidelines, and increasing training for staff, volunteers and residents.
Trinity Rescue Mission is also actively collaborating with other providers in the city to meet the increasing overall needs of the homeless community.
These increased measures to protect the homeless community and Trinity Rescue Mission staff has increased direct expenses including staff time, transportation, food costs and supplies associated with the organization’s services.
“Trinity Rescue Mission has seen donations and other revenue streams become very vulnerable right now,” Judd said. “Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund’s generous gift has allowed people who are the most exposed and at risk in the city to be cared for during this time of uncertainty.”
Sam, one of Trinity Rescue Mission’s residents, echoed the appreciation.
“Thank you for allowing me to come here,” he said. “The coronavirus had me scared. Now, I feel safe and feel like I can finally rest.”
Trinity Rescue Mission is one of hundreds of local nonprofits affected by COVID-19 disruption. Grants like the one from Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund are critical for nonprofits like Trinity Rescue Mission to continue offering services.
At this time, the Relief Fund has raised nearly $3 million and helped nearly 20 local nonprofits serving those disproportionally affected by COVID-19. More grants are pending. For timely updates, visit the Relief Fund reporting webpage. To make a gift to Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund, visit unitedwaynefl.org/relief-fund.