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COVID-19 Relief Fund is Helping the Helpers in Northern Nevada

The COVID-19 Relief Fund is supporting area healthcare workers and organizations
COVID-19 Relief Fund is Helping the Helpers in Northern Nevada
“It is so important in times like these to support one another and there is no doubt the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis are our healthcare providers."
Mike Kazmierski, President and CEO, EDAWN

Story update May 4, 2020

As of May 1, four area nonprofits serving the most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis received $50,200 in grants from the Community Foundation of Western Nevada’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Northern Nevada HOPES will use their $10,000 grant to purchase Personal Protective Equipment for the 15 staff seeing patients in the parking lot pop-up clinic that increases total clinical space to accommodate social distancing. HOPES serves over 10,000 patients annually, however just since March 16 (the day Nevada went under the stay at home order), they have had a total of 3,398 patient visits, including telephone visits and video visits for medical and behavioral health and 198 visits in the parking lot.
To keep the low income, elderly and sick patients who depend upon the services of the Community Health Alliance (CHA) safe, they will use their $10,000 grant to pay for screening tents outside of their North Valleys, Sparks, Wells Avenue, and Neil Road health centers. CHA is preparing to see more people who have no job or benefits and who need mental and medical services. In addition to the screening tents, CHA is installing hand-washing stations, purchasing multiple thermometers, hand sanitizers and disinfected wipes, and increasing the janitorial and cleaning procedures throughout their facilities.
The Food Bank of Northern Nevada received a $30,000 grant. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada has seen a 40% increase in people needing services. Disruptions in both their donated food and purchased food supply chains have further increased their costs at a time when the demand at food pantries is skyrocketing.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) was given a $200 grant to buy a yearly subscription to Zoom to host mental health support groups virtually.

$15,600 worth of restaurant gift cards were dispersed to employees on the front lines at area hospitals and healthcare organizations, and $5,000 of healthy frozen meals were purchased for REMSA responders through the COVID Kindness program. A partnership with the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce, COVID Kindness purchased the restaurant gift cards and frozen meals from Chamber members who provided a 20% discount ($80 spend for each $100 card). Participating restaurants included: ICE Age Meals, BurgerIM, Famous Dave's BBQ, Full Belly Deli, Great Basin Brewing Company, Land Ocean Restaurants, Old Granite Street Eatery, Rue Bourbon, Steak 'n Shake, Truckee Bagel Company, Gold 'N Silver Inn, Nothing To It!, MariCHUY'S Mexican  Kitchen, Urban Market, Pizzava, Jersey Mike's Subs, and The Growler Guys.


As the Northern Nevada community continues to adapt and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, one force has remained a constant beacon of hope for the sick and their families: our medical professionals. Pushed to the front lines, our region’s doctors, nurses, medical technicians, EMTs and hospital staff are the heroic helpers we have turned to in our time of need.

The Medical Community’s Heroic Calling

The need for their services is only growing. On April 4th, Governor Steve Sisolak signed his 11th emergency directive in the wake of Covid-19, waiving certain licensing requirements to allow Nevada to add additional healthcare workers to the Battle Born Medical Corps.

Speaking of their heroic efforts on March 25, Sisolak heralded the medical community for “working tirelessly to care for the sick and to increase our capacity to deal with cases in the future.” He noted in the release of his new directive that “Fighting for our State is in our very DNA – it's who we are as Nevadans. This is our moment to once again show the world what it means to be Battle Born.”

Helping our Heroes

As we Nevadans grapple with the fallout of the pandemic, we have a new charge: helping the helpers. With more medical students and retired doctors set to join the front lines to help, local philanthropists and non-profits have made it clear that our community stands behind them and supports their efforts. You can too.

In March, the COVID-19 Relief Fund was established at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada in partnership with the City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County, EDAWN and the Reno Sparks Chamber to help meet the needs of frontline workers. The Fund will help provide support such as meals, hotel rooms (many medical personnel are not going home to reduce their family’s contamination risk), emergency childcare, counseling or other needs, so they can stay safe, stay healthy and stay on the job.

“The COVID-19 Relief Fund will give back to those who are working around the clock to provide care and control the virus in our community, and who are helping us to heal while placing themselves at great risk. Support is intended to help these workers and their families as they deal with stress, anxiety and exhaustion,” said Chris Askin, Community Foundation of Western Nevada President and CEO.

Delivering the Support

The COVID-19 Relief Fund Advisory Committee is comprised of two representatives each from the City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County and the Community Foundation of Western Nevada Board, as well as representatives from the Reno Sparks Chamber and EDAWN.

On March 31, the Committee convened virtually to agree on the Fund’s focus and initial grant distribution timeline in the coming weeks. With unanimous agreement, they decided if medical professionals are putting the lives of others first, we as a community need to put them first.

After the meeting, Mike Kazmierski, a member of the committee and President and CEO of EDAWN, said, “It is so important in times like these to support one another and there is no doubt the real heroes on the front lines of this crisis are our healthcare providers. They are dealing with the impacts of this virus firsthand, risking their lives and the lives of their families to care for those with the virus, while protecting all of us from the spread of this deadly threat. That is why I am so proud of our community for setting up and supporting the COVID-19 Relief Fund dedicated to meeting the needs of our health care professionals.”

Since the meeting, the Community Foundation has teamed up with representatives from Renown, St. Mary’s and Northern Nevada Medical Center, as well as REMSA and Washoe County Health District, to understand the needs of their healthcare staff.

Takeout meals and hotel rooms rose to the top of the list. Working with the Reno Sparks Chamber, the Community Foundation identified 13 area restaurants to provide gift cards for takeout meals paid for at 80% of the full cost using Relief Fund dollars. Cards will be given to leaders at the hospitals to distribute to front-line workers in the most need of support. There will be a few rounds of gift card distributions that will include more restaurants wishing to participate.

Beyond meals, hospitals will also report staff hotel needs and costs to the Relief Fund in the coming days so the Fund can help medical personal defray some of those expenses. The Relief Fund will also be working with REMSA to provide funds for the specially prepared, sterile frozen meals used by its ambulance operators. The Relief Fund Advisory Committee will continue to evaluate the situation to identify additional areas of need in the coming weeks.

Size of the Impact

To date, donations to the fund total about $131,000, thanks to donors making gifts ranging from $25 to $10,000. Included in that total is $75,600 from the Community Foundation’s Community Fund and its earmarked emergency funds, made possible by the region’s first Community Endowment Fund. In the coming weeks and months, the size of the Fund should continue to grow as community awareness and support builds among community members like those named below who have already given generously.

“We are donating to the Community Foundation of Western Nevada’s COVID-19 Relief Fund because we know the Foundation is working closely with community officials to identify where funding is most needed and to efficiently distribute funds to meet those needs.”
–Debbie and Eric Struhsacker

“I want to do everything I can to help the community get through this difficult time. In times like these we all need to pull together and help each other out wherever possible. I just want to do my part.”
–Matt Parker

“Our contribution, combined with other donations, will create a more impactful resource for our Northern Nevada community. Focusing the COVID-19 Relief Fund Advisory Committee on meeting the immediate needs of healthcare workers and emergency response teams is important.”
–Kevin and Ann Marie Melcher

How to Help

Donate to the Fund
If you are able, consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Relief Fund, you may do so online through the Community Foundation’s Website. The COVID-19 Relief Fund Advisory Committee will continue to update the community on their work through the website.

Volunteer for the Battle Born Medical Corps
Those interested in joining the Battle Born Medical Corps can do so online through the Nevada Department of Health.


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