Family & Intercultural Resource Center sees a year’s worth of demand in 2 months
FRISCO — Months into the coronavirus pandemic, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center estimates two-thirds of Summit County residents struggle to afford basic needs, and the nonprofit is not slowing down in providing resources to disadvantaged people.
The organization’s food pantry used to see an average of 80 people per week. Now, it aids an average of 1,100 people.
The average amount of people using the food bank has stayed roughly the same since March, but when combined with other offerings such as rent relief along with mental health assistance and health insurance enrollment, the resource center has provided 14,000 services in two months — a number the nonprofit usually sees over the course of a year.
“Not everyone is back to working yet,” Family & Intercultural Resource Center Executive Director Brianne Snow said. “Some people have gotten their stimulus check, some people have gotten their unemployment kick in, but a lot of people are still struggling. This is just a way to stretch that money further.”
So far, the organization’s rent relief program has helped 837 applicants out of more than 1,000. Each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis, and some of the program involves communicating with landlords to negotiate discounts, yet it also includes providing renters with extra cash so they can make payments. According to Snow, the average check they write is for $970 coming from nearly $1 million in rental relief funds.
With more of the population unemployed, the traditional access to health insurance via work benefits has been upended.
“We’ve helped them apply for emergency Medicaid, so they’re not leaving a hospital with a ginormous bill, so they don’t have to recover from COVID and then figure out how to pay for their hospital stay,” Snow said.
This, and other pressing pandemic-related issues, has caused an increase in calls to the resource center’s mental health line for help. Callers have reported anxiety, depression and substance abuse.
One demographic Snow is seeing request additional aid is Latina women. She said more are signing up for the center’s peer support program due to increased stress. To help the Spanish-speaking community, the nonprofit is hosting weekly live videos on its Facebook page specifically targeted to make information as accessible as possible.
Snow noticed that Latino men were disproportionately being affected by COVID-19. The videos are used to spread the messages of social distancing and health care reasons for wearing facial coverings.
“We found a local doctor that was willing to speak up on that and really speak on terms of safety,” Snow said. “After that talk, we saw an increase in Latino men being willing to wear masks because they understood why, not just having a sign that had been roughly translated in Spanish with no background information. … Having somebody that understands you, your culture and your language explain it in a way that is helpful and meaningful for you.”
To help offset operating costs, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center is planning to reopen its thrift stores by June 1. Social distancing details are still in the works, but the stores likely will operate by appointment only and eventually roll out a way to accept donations.
“A lot of vulnerable populations use our thrift store for clothes,” Snow said. “We are going above and beyond to make sure we are being as safe as possible when dealing with used garments.”
Snow hopes reopening the thrift stores will help chip away at the roughly $1 million deficit the resource center is experiencing due to modified or canceled fundraiser events and shrinking government grants in addition to the loss of store revenue.
FIRC Fashion Show
The annual FIRC Fashion Show is one of those adjusted events. It usually raises about $200,000, and the center is hoping to raise $100,000 from the virtual version happening Friday, June 26. The funds typically come from a ticket price of $75 per person along with sponsors and donations throughout the show. With it being online, it’s now just $25 per household Zoom link to the event.
This year’s theme honors community rock stars with participants re-creating their favorite album covers and music videos. Snow said more covers have been submitted than videos, so she encourages people to send in a 60-90 second clip of themselves mirroring their favorite choreography. A committee will select 30 videos to play for the event.
“This has been just a really hard time for our community, and we just want to be able to provide something fun for people to look forward to and participate in,” Snow said. “This is an opportunity for people to feel connected to their community and remember that we are resilient, and we will get through this.”
The deadline to enter the show has been extended to Tuesday, May 26. To apply or purchase a link to the virtual fundraiser, visit FIRCFashion.org.
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