Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges abound, but thanks to the efforts of the Dock Street Foundation and its Project Hopeful Campaign, the message of hope is glowing on the streets of Easton to remind us to care for our neighbors and our community. In addition to lifting spirits with the colorfully lighted Hopeful signs and Hopeful banners around Easton, Dock Street Foundation is collaborating with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation (MSCF) to raise funds in support of their COVID-19 Response Fund awarding grants to non-profit organizations in the five-county area.
The Tilghman Area Youth Association (TAYA), one of the recipients of a COVID-19 Response Fund grant, has been providing dinners three nights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the Tilghman United Methodist Church for families identified by the school and church as needing assistance. According to Executive Director Brandy Frampton, the need for meals is steadily growing and the organization is seeking community support with this effort. During the summer months, the organization also helped distribute meals and Care Packs at Tilghman Elementary School and has continued with the Care Pack distribution during the school year.
Brandy Frampton, Executive Director of TAYA, comments, “We are trying to fill in the food gaps because of the distance to grocery stores from many of the homes on Tilghman Island. The added stressors of virtual learning in our schools now and the job losses experienced by many of our residents have made the need for food even greater this fall.”
“In addition, the COVID-19 Response Fund grant, along with community donations, have helped support the afterschool program at Tilghman Elementary School, including providing educational enrichment kits related to science and technology, engineering and math, and the arts. These kits have really helped to give children a break from online learning, as well as offer something fun to do.”
At the Neighborhood Service Center in Easton, the grant funds enabled Marilyn Neal, Executive Director, to provide food to residents at a time when food was costly and hard to get. The agency was also able to purchase personal protective equipment items to keep the agency doors open and to share with its customers when they came in for food items. The grant helped cover the extra salary costs associated with running the Shelter 24-hours a day when the stay-at-home orders were issued by the State.
“Hopeful says to me where we have a community pull together it provides hope for people who feel as if they have fallen through the cracks. It reassures them that as long as they have a community pulling together as a whole, they will be fine,” Neal reflects.
As the anxiety caused by the pandemic continued to rise during the summer months, For All Seasons was able to tap into MSCF’s grant funds to expand its COVID-19 crisis appointments. The agency brought in over 650 new patients since March 1 and these numbers are continuing to rise. Beth Anne Langrell, CEO of For All Seasons, states, “The funding provided through MSCF and Project Hopeful has been essential to our team meeting the growing mental health needs of the community during COVID-19.”
“Every person is feeling something different during these uncertain times. Change can be difficult and can be daunting. We also know now that change continues to be inevitable during this time and that we are now living more “in the grey” than we ever have before. Thanks to funders such as MSCF and Project Hopeful, we continue to respond to the needs of our community without a pause.”
Frampton adds, “Figuring out where our organization could best serve the community during COVID-19 was a challenge. Just knowing there are flexible funds, like those being raised by Project Hopeful has meant the world to us. The funding is there to just keep us moving forward and helping nonprofits fill the needs in our communities.”
The Hopeful Campaign wants people to take their photos by one of the Hopeful signs or banners and post them on social media with a message about why they are hopeful. They encourage folks to Be Helpful as well as Hopeful by donating on their website at www.dockstreetfoundation.org Donations will support local nonprofits through the Mid-Shore Community Foundation’s Covid-19 Response Fund as they respond to hunger, homelessness, and mental health needs in our communities. Hopeful banners and flags are available for purchase on the website and bumper stickers are available at Vintage Books and Fine Art in Easton and Sprout in Easton and St. Michaels.