062720_Elks Lodge 604

Elks Lodge #604 presents a grant to Heartland United Way. Pictured from left to right: Tiffany Schrunk, Stephanie Kissler, Valerie Roth, Terri Maloy and Barry Hopkins (Independent/Ethan Petrik)

Elks Lodge 604 gifted Heartland United Way with a grant to continue to aid the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lodge selected the organization as the recipient of the $2,000 grant because of its emergency funds rental assistance program.

Heartland United Way Director of Community Impact Valerie Roth said the program was created to supplement other rental assistance programs in the area.

“There are some programs that have a lot of interviews,” Roth said. “Our program has a short interview.”

According to Roth, individuals with more urgent needs use the Heartland United Way’s program.

“When you call us, it’s like, ‘My power is going to be shut off at 5 p.m.,’” she said. “This program has a quicker turnaround than other programs.”

The targeted beneficiaries are individuals who may be ineligible for other programs.

“We have a different program that is for people with children under 18,” Roth said. “But this program is for single people who do not have children.”

When applying for assistance, applicants are asked the reason for the need and their plans to meet the need.

“If they have no income and do not plan on getting income next month, that’s not who this is for,” Roth said. “We will help those individuals find other resources. This is for people who have had a disruption with their job and their rent will be late or their car broke down.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the instability in the job market, the importance of the program is heightened.

“A lot of people in Grand Island live paycheck to paycheck,” Roth said. “They cannot put money aside in a rainy day sort of fund.”

As of Friday, the program, which is funded through donations, had given out more than $12,000 in assistance. Typically, it gives out $10,000 during the year.

The lodge received the money as a spotlight grant that originally was designed to help veterans and child literacy.

However, the scope of the grant was widened to meet the needs of those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barry Hopkins, secretary of Elks Lodge 604, said he saw a secondary purpose to the fund.

“Landlords need to be able to stay in business as well,” Hopkins said. “If a person cannot afford rent, a landlord cannot just waive the rent because they need that money to pay for utilities and keep that place running.”

Elks Lodge 604 received the money for the grant from the Elks National Foundation, a fund started in 1928 that provides money to lodges around the country.

Lodge 604 previously had provided grants to Grand Island Salvation Army, Hope Harbor, St. Mary’s Food Cupboard and Hamilton County Food Pantry. It was able to donate more than $15,000 to various agencies and causes in 2019.

Roth said anyone who is in need can call 211, the statewide resource hotline, to be connected to the right program.

The application for the Heartland United Way emergency funds program can be found at the organization’s office, 1441 N. Webb Road, or at heartlandunitedway.org/get-help.

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