As the COVID-19 crisis progresses, we continue to hear inspiring stories about community mobilization, emergency responses, and community foundations creating innovative solutions.

Across Canada, community foundations have confronted the pandemic with a willingness to provide help and support for those in need. This crisis has shown us the power of an engaged community, and the diverse emergency responses from community foundations have proved the importance of grassroots initiatives in local regions and municipalities.

The following is part of an ongoing series that spotlights the emergency response efforts of local community foundations across Canada. In addition to these features, we have also compiled a map sharing the mobilization efforts from community foundations across the country. 

Windsor-Essex Community Foundation has taken a holistic approach to a COVID-19 response. Lisa Kolody, Executive Director, and the WECF team has implemented a trifold approach with a COVID-19 emergency response fund, a partner survey to learn about community needs, and a “Windsor/ Essex Cares” campaign to raise community awareness.

The emergency response fund aims to fill the gaps in the community by providing financial support to those most vulnerable. Kolody shared that producing a 2018-19 Vital Signs report helped fill a holistic understanding of these gaps. In addition, participating in collaborations like the United Way coalition on food security also helped WECF understand what areas would likely already be addressed by the government, and which would require their support. WECF has waived normal fees on the emergency response fund and has raised over $40,000 with support and generosity from existing donors, as well as community members – a local resident sent a $100 cheque simply after reading about the fund in the local newspaper!

For Kolody, understanding and acting upon community needs is a key role of community foundations. The results of the “W/E Cares Covid-19 Survey” were sobering – less than 20% of responding charities are open and nearly two-thirds require financial assistance. These insights are now informing the emergency grants distributed through the response fund. 

“Our vision is inspiring philanthropy and our job is to provide hope,” said Kolody.

This outlook comes through loud and clear with the W/E Cares Campaign. WECF is sharing good news stories across a variety of social platforms, featuring residents volunteering and corporations providing support. In addition, the campaign is also working to connect charities with resources and volunteers as needed.