THE GOSHEN NEWS Mar 3, 2018
ELKHART — The Community Foundation of Elkhart County is receiving gifts and distributing funding for disaster relief efforts within Elkhart County.
The foundation's of disaster relief fund was established in 2009 by the city of Nappanee to provide future disaster relief service for residents of Elkhart County. The fund follows the model utilized by Nappanee when that community was devastated by a tornado Oct. 18, 2007, according to the foundation. Then-mayor Larry Thompson provided seed money to this fund after city relief efforts were complete and to recognize the hundreds of donors who supported these efforts from across the county, the region and the country.
Examples of qualifying disasters include but are not limited to weather calamities, such as tornadoes or floods, industrial accidents or acts of terrorism.
The disaster relief program is designed to address lingering community needs once emergency issues are addressed, according to the foundation said. However, the advisory committee may elect to grant funds to first-response organizations if community needs dictate.
HOW IT WORKS
The foundation’s board of directors has the authority to activate the fund, evaluating several factors, including a disaster’s severity, impact, community need and availability of adequate resources. An advisory committee made up of community leaders affected by the disaster will determine the most effective and equitable means to distribute funds based on the need and scope of the disaster, foundation officials said.
The foundation accepts contributions to the disaster relief fund at any time. All monies raised are distributed through grants to eligible nonprofit organizations providing assistance to disaster victims.
Grants allocations will be decided by an advisory committee, chaired by Thompson and which includes Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese, President and CEO of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce Nick Kieffer, President and CEO of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce Levon Johnson, partner at Salem Insurance of Nappanee and Goshen John Leavitt, CEO of LaCasa Larry Gautsche and senior program officer of the community foundation Shannon Oakes.
Funds will be distributed through nonprofit organizations.
UNITED WAY STEPS IN
Also on Friday, United Way of Elkhart County officials announced plans to allocate an additional $100,000 to assist with flood recovery efforts, bringing the nonprofit organization's total emergency services investment to more than $250,000.
“Since 1992, United Way of Elkhart County has been advancing the common good and helping people in times of need. With over 1,100 households impacted in our community, United Way knows that the need is great. In light of the recent flooding, we have increased our commitment by $100,000 to help families in this flood emergency,” said Bill Rieth, president of United Way of Elkhart County.
United Way will work with community partners to determine the best use of resources to help those affected by the flooding, officials said. The $100,000 is on top of the $150,000 United Way has already committed for 2018 emergency services.
HOW TO GIVE
Gifts to the disaster relief fund can be made online at www.inspiringgood.org/giveonline or mailed to the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, 300 Nibco Pkwy., Ste. 301, Elkhart, IN 46516. Community Foundation staff members can also work with business or corporate entities that would like to establish a matching-gifts program for employee giving to disaster relief efforts.