United Way uses $1.1 million grant to provide relief to community organizations

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The United Way of the Wabash Valley secured a $1.1 million grant from the Lily Endowment and the Indiana United Way.

The grant will allow the organization to offer relief to community organizations that are offering resources to those in need due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Danielle Isbell, Director of Resource Development for United Way, said the organization plans to distribute the funds in phases.

“The fund is already set up for what we call short term grants. We’re issuing what we call $5,000 mini grants out of this fund for any organization who is providing any kind of economic relief or assistance for those impacted by COVID-19,” she said.

The United Way of the Wabash Valley and the Wabash Valley Community Foundation started the relief fund on March 23 and they’ve distributed a total of $175,000 to 39 different community organizations.

Terre Haute Meals on Wheels received a $5,000 grant from the organization to help fund their efforts to combat food insecurity.

Rita Kaperak, Executive Director for Meals on Wheels, said the funding will allow them to distribute free meals.

“We normally have a small charge that we charge our recipients and we knew that there are a lot of people out there that would not be able to pay it,” Kaperak explained. “So we applied for food to purchase for them so that we could deliver meals to them for free.”

The organization typically serves an average of 65 families per day. However, due to the pandemic, they are now serving 115 families per day.

Kaperak said their key demographic consists of those who have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

“We had people calling us who had not eaten in two or three days because even when they had money they couldn’t find food in the stores. Or, they were afraid to go out because their medical conditions,” she said.

Orville Grayless is a 70-year-old Terre Haute resident, who has underlying health conditions.

He said programs like Meals on Wheels are essential for his well-being.

“It’s hard for me to get out. I’m new to this meals on wheels and this really helps,” he said. “The doctor doesn’t want me going to far away with this a-fib. I’ve had trouble breathing. I’m trying to get the heart stronger so this thing could kill me. So I pretty much have to stay in.”

Grayless receives meals Monday-Friday from the program.

He said the assistance he’s given ensures that he’ll make it through the day.

“You know at least when you haven’t been able to get out and haven’t been able to go to the store for a day or two maybe..maybe you are low on stuff. But you’re guaranteed that one meal a day, at least a lunch,” Grayless noted.

To learn more about the emergency relief fund or how you can help, click here.

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