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Local Businesses and Charitable Organizations Pitch in to Help Tornado Victims

Local Businesses and Charitable Organizations Pitch in to Help Tornado Victims

Members of the Western MA Funders Forum pledge more than $700,000 and offer volunteer support to help those impacted by the recent tornado.

Reverberations from the tornado that touched down on June 1 are still being felt by hundreds of residents across Western Massachusetts whose homes and lives have been severely impacted. Now, local businesses and nonprofit organizations from across the region have responded with generous pledges of support aimed at providing rapid relief to those in need.

At a recent meeting in Springfield, community leaders responsible for charitable giving at local businesses and members of the nonprofit community came together to map out a course for assisting those in need—including financial support totaling more than $700,000 to date and coordinating a host of volunteer relief efforts.

“We felt it was important to convene the members of the corporate giving community and those agencies involved in providing support during the disaster to discuss our collective response,” said Ron Ancrum, President of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. “Many of us have already made commitments and we know that our combined contributions of cash and volunteer efforts will make a big difference to the community as we move into the recovery phase of this disaster.”

Financial pledges from the corporate funding community to date include the following:

  • $200,000 from PeoplesBank. $50,000 to the Red Cross, $25,000 to Square One, and $25,000 to the Community Foundation of Western MA Tornado Relief Fund through a partnership with New England Public Radio, WFCR and WNNZ. Between June 17 and June 25, PeoplesBank will match every pledge to WFCR and WNNZ with a $10 donation. The remaining $100,000 will be donated to efforts PeoplesBank identifies as being critical to long-term recovery. Employees are also engaged in volunteer efforts. PeoplesBank will also match gifts by employees through its Matching Gift Program.
  • $100,000 from Hampden Bank. $75,000 to the Red Cross and $25,000 to the Salvation Army. The Bank has established the Greater Springfield Tornado Relief Fund to benefit the Red Cross and Salvation Army; donations are accepted at all branches.
  • $100,000 from MassMutual to the Red Cross. MassMutual will also match gifts by qualified employees and financial professionals through its Matching Gift Program.
  • $100,000 from United Bank. $25,000 to the Red Cross for immediate relief efforts; $5,000 used to establish the WGGB ABC40 / Fox6 Tornado Relief Fund to benefit the Red Cross and the Salvation Army (donations accepted at all United Bank branches) and $75,000 from the United Bank Foundation for nonprofit organizations who sustained damage as a result of the tornado or to those agencies participating in the relief and recovery efforts. United Bank branches are also collecting food and clothing for local temporary shelters.
  • $50,000 from Bank of America. $25,000 to the Red Cross for immediate relief efforts. The remaining $25,000 will be allocated as rebuilding gets underway. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation will match employee pledges through the Bank’s Matching Gift Program.
  • $10,000 from the Berkshire Bank Foundation to the Red Cross. Additional grant funds will be made available to local non-profit organizations as needs in the recovery effort are identified. All branches are collecting donations to benefit the Red Cross. Through the Bank’s Employee Volunteer Program, staff members are donating their time with HAP Housing and other agencies to support the relief and recovery efforts in and around Springfield.
  • The Beveridge Family Foundation contributed to Square One and HAP Housing immediately following the tornado and made contributions earlier in the year to the Red Cross chapters in Westfield and the Pioneer Valley. The Foundation anticipates making additional grant funds available as the recovery phase progresses.

Local nonprofit organizations have established funds and are playing significant roles in the recovery efforts.

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) has reached out to area nonprofit organizations located in the path of the tornadoes to gain an understanding of the impact on facilities and services in the region. CFWM has established a Tornado Relief Fund with more than $100,000 to date including $50,000 allocated from its grant making funds and contributions from PeoplesBank, People’s United Bank, local businesses and individuals. The CFWM will make a special grant application available to area nonprofits affected by the disaster or those assisting in the recovery effort to request financial support from this fund. CFWM has also made grants directly to area nonprofit organizations at the recommendation of its donors from their donor advised funds.

The United Way of the Pioneer Valley (UWPV) contributed $50,000 to the Red Cross which represents a 1:1 match of UWPV’s commitment of $25,000 with the remaining funds having been secured from the community in support of disaster relief. UWPV is currently raising funds for the recovery phase and to date has raised over $100,000.

In addition, UWPV is coordinating disaster relief volunteer efforts with the assistance of a national organization, ALL Hands Volunteers (AHV) which specializes in providing clean-up and recovery services to residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations. ALL Hands is co-located at the United Way. The partnership includes MASS 2-1-1, UWPV and ALL Hands and links individuals in need of assistance with volunteers specially trained in working with survivors of natural disasters. UWPV is also partnering with HAP Housing to secure in-kind donations of furniture and household goods for residents throughout the region.

The Jewish Federation has teamed up with the United Way of Pioneer Valley and contributed $20,000 to its Tornado Response Fund. In addition, $5,000 in cash and 20,000 pounds of food was donated to Rachel’s Table (a project of the Federation) which has been shared with groups in need. Both the Jewish Federation and Jewish Endowment Foundation have engaged the Jewish community in support of disaster relief efforts. Donor advisors at the Jewish Endowment Foundation are also interested in helping various organizations; and donations should be forthcoming.

The United Way of Hampshire County is serving as a resource for individuals and businesses in its service area who are interested in supporting the disaster relief efforts and/or volunteering by connecting them with the United Way of Pioneer Valley.

“As members of the corporate funding community we have a shared commitment to the communities we serve,” said Dena M. Hall, President of the United Bank Foundation. “When those communities need our help in the wake of a disaster like the tornado, we also have a commitment to work together to pitch in and help. The enthusiasm and energy everyone has shown in this effort is amazing. This is a very special group of businesses and individuals.”

The Western Massachusetts Funders Forum is an informal group of area businesses and organizations who meet quarterly to discuss the charitable needs in our region and how each business or organization is responding to those needs through its charitable giving programs.

For more information about tornado relief and recovery efforts; for information on how to access any of the special grant funds mentioned above or to learn how you can help or contribute, please contact the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts at 413-732-2858, the United Way of Pioneer Valley at 413-737-2691 or any of the organizations listed above.