The McKenna Foundation is taking steps to help fight the economic damage the pandemic has caused by creating the Comal Emergency Relief Fund.
The foundation has committed $50,000 in seed funding toward direct crisis financial support and other assistance to New Braunfels and Comal County families.
The foundation hopes to raise at least $250,000 to support community efforts through other philanthropic, governmental, church, business and individual donations. The effort is a fund of the New Braunfels Community Foundation.
Many local families don’t have enough of a financial cushion to deal with the unprecedented losses that will pile up as a result of COVID-19.
The McKenna Foundation, and the close network of nonprofits that work alongside them, meet daily needs for families every day. They knew how those needs would increase in the wake of the pandemic, Alice Jewell, CEO of the McKenna Foundation, said.
A local philanthropist has committed $50,000 to the fund, motivated by the magnitude of need and the recognition that a centralized navigation point will streamline the process for those to receive care.
“Those of us not affected or minimally affected can help those who, by no fault of their own, are experiencing or will experience hardship,” Jewell said.
A Multi-Agency Response Center at the McKenna Events Center, 801 W. San Antonio Street, will centralize support and help families navigate community resources available.
All families are seen individually during this time, whether they have needed assistance from McKenna in the past or not, she said.
“The goal is to stay as well and stable as possible as a community,” Jewell said.
The CERF is intended to stay in place beyond an ‘all clear’ to assist the community in picking up the pieces, but this heavily depends on donor support.
“The impact on people's personal economy will last longer than any order and this could be extremely lengthy. We provide support year round. We should be able to provide support for this for as long as possible, but we need community help with that,” she said.
Financial support will be based on a family’s individual needs and COVID-19 related job loss, reduced income and any federal or state relief assistance that may be available.
The Comal County Habitat for Humanity, Family Life Center, Salvation Army, New Braunfels Food Bank, CRRC of Canyon Lake and Hill Country MHDD have partnered with McKenna to provide various resources at the center.
These include: mental health professionals, financial assistance for rent, mortgage payments or utility bills, food assistance, help with acquiring P-SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and spiritual support.
“This event is unprecedented and affects everyone,” said Crystal Moore, Executive Director of Comal County Habitat for Humanity. “When it’s all over we want families to come out of this time as mentally, physically, emotionally and financially strong as possible. That means taking care of them today through support of our community and local nonprofit organizations,”
More information, including services, eligibility, how to access an appointment and necessary documentation began being offered on Saturday, March 28 at www.comalcountycares.com.
Phone assistance with information or eligibility began Monday, March 30 at (830) 606-9512 with operation of the MARC starting Wednesday, April 1.