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Partnership Funds: Supporting Community Efforts

Through CFA’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the Foundation is helping nonprofits navigate unprecedented challenges and helping community members care for each other — but it’s not the only way the Foundation is creating an avenue for people to help one another.

CFA has also helped individuals establish funds that allow them to raise money and put it to work to help front-line workers and others in our community. The Johnstown Pay It Forward – People Helping People Fund does just that: it delivers meals to health care workers and others on the front lines of the pandemic by purchasing food from restaurants and food businesses, which have lost revenue in recent weeks.

The effort started as a Facebook page and quickly grew, according to Johnstown native Jennifer Reese. Reese said a friend of hers, local dentist Melissa Simasek Fordham, suggested the idea and the two of them coordinated with local nurse practitioner Lindsay Angus to work out logistics and start delivering meals.

“She and I were talking, and she thought it would be nice if we could find a way to donate money, buy food from small businesses in Johnstown, and send it to health care workers,” Reese said. “A couple hours after we put it up, we really hadn’t heard anything. But by the end of the day, we were up to around $3,000.”

Soon, small businesses were calling Reese to offer food, too. So far, they have raised over $12,000, purchased food from 43 local small businesses, and delivered food to health care workers, grocery store employees, law enforcement officers, and staff and residents at personal care homes. A couple weeks ago, they turned to CFA to help with fundraising and handling tax-deductible donations so the effort could continue to grow.

“My first thought was, how do we help those local businesses?” Reese said. “All of us want to do something. This is something anybody can do, and you don’t have to leave your home. Now other people are buying food on their own, too, and posting it on our Facebook page. It just keeps growing.”

Kim Oleksa, development and fundraising administrator at Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber, said volunteers from the group have delivered food and meals there three times, eventually reaching almost every department at the medical center, from the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center to the emergency room.

“Everybody here is so appreciative,” she said. “It’s nice to know that someone is taking the time to thank them for continuing to work during the pandemic.”

Managing the fund through CFA allows donations to be tax deductible and provides a secure, simple avenue for donors to participate in these kinds of grassroots efforts, CFA Director of Donor Services Katrina Perkosky said.

“Through our partnership funds, we’re happy to be able to provide administrative and fundraising support so people in the community can focus on the good work they want to do,” she said.

To make a donation to the Johnstown Pay It Forward – People Helping People Fund, CLICK HERE. To learn more about CFA’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on our community, CLICK HERE.

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