St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation, Willis Dady Homeless Services receive grants to help with impact of COVID-19

Tree of Five Seasons sculpture, Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation has announced the first two groups that will receive grants under the foundation’s COVID-19 Disaster Response Fund. St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation and Willis Dady Homeless Services will each receive $2,500.

The Community Foundation is a nonprofit that supports other organizations in Linn County by offering grants, support and connecting donors with causes they care about. The foundation announced the disaster response fund on March 17. It is intended to help address the impacts of COVID-19 on Linn County and has two main purposes.

The first is to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in Linn County through “rapid response grants” to groups where resources are most needed. The second is to address human service needs for vulnerable populations, including children, older adults and people experiencing homelessness.

St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundations will use the grant to purchase materials for community volunteers to sew cloth masks. The goal is to provide more than 1,600 masks to St. Luke’s hospital, Mercy Medical Center and other care facilities.

The hospitals have been asking volunteers to donate cloth masks since last month to help preserve personal protective equipment.

Willis Dady is planning to use the grant to help with housing homeless individuals who have COVID-19 or who might have been exposed. The grant will cover extra staffing during this time, a need that has grown as volunteers are staying home, according to a news release.

In the release, Willis Dady’s executive director Phoebe Trepp said three individuals have been quarantined with “flu-like symptoms.”

“We are working with the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County, and Waypoint Services to find spaces to quarantine those who need it,” Trepp said. “Our staff are working very hard to protect our clients and the people in our community.”

At the end of last month, the Linn County Board of Supervisors approved for the overflow shelter to remain open through April. Willis Dady provides services at the overflow shelter, located at the county-owned Fillmore Center, 520 11th St NW.

The overflow shelter is normally open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day of the week but changed its hours to 24/7 in response to COVID-19. (Iowa City’s Shelter House has done the same.)

Additional grants from the foundation’s COVID-19 disaster response fund will be awarded “in the coming days and weeks.” A list of grant recipients, award amounts and how the grant will be used is posted online and will be updated.

The foundation is also accepting applications for an additional grant opportunity to help nonprofit organizations during the pandemic as part of its Funds for the Community. Applications are due April 15.

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