The Cape Ann Emergency Relief Fund, an effort to raise funds to support local hourly workers impacted by pandemic related closures and restrictions, surpassed its target and is on course to raise more than $250,000. The Fund, launched by Action Inc. in conjunction with the City of Gloucester and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, has been supported by hundreds of local individuals and businesses demonstrating the power of community to come together to support each other in times of need.
With the initial target achieved, Action Inc. can begin to distribute the funds to local families, with the aim of helping as many as 500 local households struggling with lost income. Hourly workers who have been laid off, furloughed or seen a significant reduction in hours are invited to apply. The program is open to residents of Gloucester, Ipswich, Rockport, Manchester and Essex who meet the eligibility requirements, which can be found here.
“This pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another”, explained Joe McEvoy, Action Inc.’s Director of Planning and Development, “but hundreds of local residents lost their jobs, essentially overnight. Stores, restaurants, daycares, nail salons, and a whole host of places have closed, or have significantly cut back on their hours or services. People are struggling with lost income, and still have bills to pay, rent due, and need money to buy food, medicine, and supplies.”
Action Inc.’s fund hopes to address that, providing unrestricted payments to hourly workers who apply through the process, in an effort to make up for lost income. “There is a huge amount of uncertainty,” McEvoy added, “but by getting money into people’s pockets quickly, we hope we do something to make life a little easier for friends and neighbors who are struggling right now.
The fund launched on Action Inc.’s website on March 20th and in just two weeks had raised $200,000. The agency began accepting applications on Monday, April 6th, and by April 16th over 200 applications had been received. The agency plans to issues the first checks to applicants on April 13th.
“The response from the community has been incredible” according to Peggy Hegarty-Steck, President and Executive Director at Action Inc. “To raise such a huge sum of money in such a short period of time really shows you what an amazing community we have here on Cape Ann. Hundreds of neighbors contributed, some it was the cost of a meal or a manicure, and for others, with the means, it was much more.”
Ken Riehl, Executive Director of the Cape Ann Chamber who helped launch the fund added, “we are thrilled to see the amazing response to this initiative, it is inspirational and a most appropriate example of the strength of the Cape Ann community – together as a community we will get through this challenging time, and emerge stronger”.
To donate the fund or find out more about eligibility, you can visit www.actioninc.org.