SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — In response to the devastating financial repercussions COVID-19 has inflicted upon our local economy, United Way of Santa Barbara County, the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Hutton Parker Foundation are leading a countywide funders’ collaborative.
The program is called the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort for Santa Barbara County.
“This crisis is impacting everyone in our community, every single nonprofit organization,” United Way of Santa Barbara County President & CEO Steve Ortiz said. “The most vulnerable in our community who are already at the brink of suffering are definitely suffering at the moment.”
The effort is providing over $2 million to individuals and families negatively affected by California’s statewide shutdown along with organizations actively assisting members of the community.
“It was something that was absolutely critical to launch,” Santa Barbara Foundation Interim CEO Jackie Carrera said.
The need is great for many during this difficult time.
“Organizations are being affected in so many different ways,” Carrera said. “So we’re seeing a lot of applications for support.”
“The demand is definitely very high,” Ortiz said. “We’re getting about 200 to 300 applications per day at the moment.”
Some locals are even struggling to buy groceries.
“We have a family who’s walking three miles to a Foodbank to get food because they don’t have enough money to put gas in their car,” Ortiz said.
The United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County is benefiting from this joint fund and the nonprofit is using it to help provide for those in need.
“They’ve pivoted their model where their staff are now distributing food to community members in their areas,” Carrera said.
“There’s a reason there’s 2,000 nonprofits in Santa Barbara,” United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County CEO Michael Baker said. “There’s a reason because 2,000 nonprofits can make a huge impact on the community.”
The joint effort will align and coordinate efforts, share information and distribute financial resources on a rolling basis for the most vulnerable populations.
“These funds are going to help build a bridge to get us from point A to point B until we can reopen our facilities,” Baker concluded. “To be able to operate some semblance of what’s going to be the new normal.”