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The Guilford Savings Bank, in response to the economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is gifting $20,000 to the Madison Foundation, providing a lifeline for the non-profit as it prepares to confront the social and economic fallout caused by the continuing spread of the virus.
Guilford Savings Bank President and CEO Tim Geelan said that with how rapidly the crisis descended on the town, the bank wanted to act quickly and help try to alleviate some of the coming hardships for many community members and residents.
“It came hard and fast, and we said obviously we have to do something to really make an impact, because we’re only seeing the tip of it right now,” Geelan said. “Obviously people are going to be out of work, businesses are going to be shut down. There’s a growing need, so we wanted to be part of the solution.”
The $20,000 is a part of $100,000 in total that the bank recently gifted to several local community foundations, according to Geelan. In Madison, that money will go to the Madison Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor program, which will allow it to more “specifically and quickly” reach those who need assistance the most, according to Madison Foundation Executive Director Jenny Simpson.
Founded in part in response to the financial crash of 2008, Neighbor to Neighbor is funded by the Madison Foundation, with the goal of providing any and all types of assistance to Madison residents who are dealing with a wide variety of critical needs, helping provide everything from heating oil to sanitary products, according to Simpson.
Laurie Heflin is the founder of Neighbor to Neighbor and also one of the original members of the Madison Foundation. Heflin said she anticipates this current crisis having some parallels with the situation in 2008, with many of the most vulnerable people suffering the most.
With a total yearly budget of around $55,000—which was already strained before the pandemic, Heflin said—the gift from Guilford Savings Bank will be absolutely critical to the work Neighbor to Neighbor will do as more and more residents find themselves in need of assistance.
“There are lots of areas of need that are not covered by any kind of government program,” Heflin said. “Those are the people that we help.”
With financial assistance from the state or federal government still weeks away, and rife with uncertainty as far as its amount or regularity, organizations like Neighbor to Neighbor will be trying to step up, as people face immediate and dire consequences from loss of work or illnesses.
Knowing that her organization will be unable to hold its usual fundraisers, Heflin said she got “teary-eyed” when the donation from the bank came through.
“It saves us, really, from the onslaught,” she said.
Neighbor to Neighbor gets most of its referrals from Youth & Family Services as well as Senior Services in the town, according to Heflin, and has been able to provide everything from assistance with unpaid bills to home repairs and counseling sessions—what Heflin called “essential human services.”
Currently, Helfin said which specific needs will increase or how exactly the pandemic will affect the local population is unknown. In conversations with town officials, Heflin said everyone is waiting to find out where it will hit, and when.
Homelessness or home insecurity is one thing with which Neighbor to Neighbor has dealt in the past, and Heflin said that is likely to be a struggle for many families in the wake of the pandemic due to job loss or health care costs.
“We try to step in immediately when the rent money is not there...We’ll subsidize the rent so we can keep them from becoming homeless,” Heflin said.
Both seniors and working people are likely to be affected, Helfin said.
As the struggles grow, and the less fortunate find themselves in need of a helping hand, Heflin said she and other community organizations will continue to rely on generosity from those who can afford to donate time or money.
Neighbor to Neighbor is currently looking for volunteers to help deliver meals to homebound seniors, she said. Many of the organization’s drivers are actually in the 60 and older age range, most vulnerable to a coronavirus infection.
“We get a great response—the community is very responsive,” she said. “We have a great base of support...we just want to be able to provide support for our community.”
To donate or for more information about Neighbor to Neighbor and the Madison Foundation’s programs, visit www.themadisonfoundation.org. Donations can also be mailed to The Madison Foundation N2N P.O. Box 446 Madison, CT 06443.
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