April 21, 2020
A handshake, a hug, or having close friends over for dinner – a few things we perhaps took for granted because we couldn’t imagine life without them before COVID-19 hit our community. As I write to you from the confines of my home, I feel the heaviness that is the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected our communities.
Since the first reported COVID-19 case in Santa Barbara County on March 15, 2020, a lot has changed. Jobs have been furloughed or lost, schools have closed, and every element of life as we know it has shifted to ensure that we are staying safely at home. Each passing day the need for relief grows, and each day the beauty of our community shines brighter. I am in awe of how quickly and creatively our nonprofit organizations have pivoted their work to provide essential support for our most vulnerable populations amid this crisis. These organizations are doing incredible and vital work, and they are facing their own financial difficulties.
When the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow devastated our community, our donors stepped forward to help with gifts to the Community Disaster Relief Fund. The Santa Barbara Foundation partnered with United Way of Santa Barbara County to provide short-term and long-term relief. In some ways, we were still rebuilding our community when we reactivated the Community Disaster Relief Fund on March 15, 2020 – this time, for a pandemic.
Early on, we saw that collaboration would be key to providing the high levels of support our community needed in the coming months. We moved quickly to form a 20-member funders’ collaborative known as the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort. This effort, led by the United Way of Santa Barbara County, Hutton Parker Foundation, and the Santa Barbara Foundation, is now working swiftly to provide grants for individuals and nonprofits across our county.
Connecting resources is what we do best at the Santa Barbara Foundation. We have created resource pages on our website for nonprofits and small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including our Ways to Help web page that directly connects those with resources (food, supplies, or volunteer time) to organizations in need. We want to help in any way we can.
Through the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations, we have raised roughly $2 million towards our relief efforts. If you have already given, thank you! To date, we have received upwards of 1,100 individual and 150 nonprofit grant applications for assistance. There is a dire need and the funds available are not nearly enough to meet the requests already submitted, with more arriving every day. I ask you, on behalf of the community, to consider what you can do to join our effort. Whether it is sharing a resource on our Ways to Help webpage or a making a donation, any effort counts.
The Santa Barbara Foundation will continue to be a resource for our community through this tough time and I hope this report showcases the brilliance of and inspiration for a brighter Santa Barbara County. We will get through this together.
Jackie Carrera, President & CEO, Santa Barbara Foundation