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COVID-19 Response

IF YOU ARE IN NEED OF IMMEDIATE RESOURCES IN MONTANA, DIAL 211 FROM ANY PHONE OR VISIT www.MONTANA211.org

Applications are due by 5 pm the last Thursday of each month.

Friday, June 5

Due to a reduction in applications, requests will now be reviewed on a monthly basis. Please continue to apply and encourage others to do the same. 

 

NAMI of Billings
  • NAMI Billings is requesting funds to purchase three laptop computers to support the transition from in-person mental health support programs to online programs. Connection support group and Peer-to-Peer class are for adults living with mental health conditions, free to participants, and led by trained volunteers who have lived experience. In April, NAMI Billings Connection support group leaders and Peer-to-Peer class leaders began offering the support group and class online through a video conferencing platform called Hey Peers. However, the class and group leaders are experiencing setbacks due to the failure of older computers and technology, such as temporary loss of connection or sound. New computers capable of fully supporting video conferencing programs would greatly improve the quality and consistency of their new online groups and classes. The resulting consistency of programming would then allow NAMI Billings to begin offering programs to a growing audience.
Nurse Family Partnership - Housed by RiverStone Health
  • Financial support will help Nurse Family Partnership(NFP) fund thier Phones For Family program and ensure their mothers have uninterrupted access to nurses during the pandemic. Each client will receive a phone programmed for four months of data, minutes, and essential applications that will enable her to receive telehealth visits from her nurse on a regular basis. NFP’s policies and procedures for telehealth services comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Nurses at NFP of Montana: Yellowstone will determine client eligibility for phones based on local nurses’ relationships with first-time mothers in the Billings area.
CARE Academy - Housed by United Way of Yellowstone County
  • The CARE (Child After school Recreation & Education) Academy Summer Program generally serves 80 children in the summer at one elementary school, Highland. Due to COVID 19,  they've reduced their number to approximately 60 children per day, spread across three schools - Highland, Boulder and Meadowlark. The program is tuition based. Income from the program helps fund tuition assistance for children in need. However, with the decrease in enrollment and the increase in staffing costs to accommodate three sites, income will be much less than normal. This money will help those children whose families struggle to afford the program attend.
Yellowstone Art Museum
  • Over the past several weeks, the Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM) has learned that their patrons, especially school-aged children, need art instruction in short video format. With the cancellation of their Summer Art Academy (serving ages 7-14) this is needed now more than ever. The YAM education team has been working to develop their in-classroom Art Suitcase program for expansion to an online platform, which will make high quality museum-based art education accessible to rural educators and their students. The YAM must invest in equipment to expand outreach to youth patrons by purchasing a video camera, stabilizer, laptop, microphones, and lighting. These items will allow them to produce quality educational programs for the community, and they will be archived on the updated website.

Friday, May 22

MSU Billings Foundation
  • The students of MSU Billings have been greatly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, the University has already given $100,000.00 in support to students impacted most. Montana State University Billings is requesting funding to continue to support the everyday needs of thier students. Due to major loss of employment nationwide, students have become unable to afford rent, childcare, and basic needs. Many are debating if they can afford tuition this fall. Student’s worst outcome is taking on debt and not finishing their degree. The university wants to ensure that they are able to continue supporting students and promote their continued education this fall.
Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley
  • Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley Community Diaper Bank distributes diapers in the Billings area and beyond. During this time of the Covid-19 pandemic the Community Diaper Bank has seen a large increase in diaper need in our area, almost doubling the amount of diapers distributed. The FPYV Community Diaper Bank is doing all that they can during this time to make sure that no child goes without the most basic of necessities. With all the unknowns and additional stresses that parents are experiencing at this time, FPYV Community Diaper Bank is distributing diapers without the normal three times in a six month period limitations. This is in hopes that the funds that parents can save will go toward maintaining housing, transportation and food. This is an effective way to help prevent crisis during this unprecidented time. 

Friday, May 15

 
Young Families Early Head Start
  • Young Families Early Head Start applied for funding to help us buy supplies in order to get prepped to restart their services to the children they serve. Supplies needed are new, hand-free garbage cans, bleach, wipes, daily cleaning supplies, protective gloves, and masks. Purchasing these supplies will help them prepare to open their doors to the families that they serve. They are unable to serve these families safely without prepping their facility and proper training to do so. 

The Masked Crusaders via Billings Community Foundation
  • Mask Crusaders organizes the creation of cloth masks for health care professionals and those on the front lines in Billings and the surrounding area that may have limited personal protective equipment supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to a lack of PPEs for frontline workers, the Mask Crusaders assembled a group of over 200 volunteers who gathered donated materials and began sewing over 3,000 masks to distribute free of charge to frontline workers. For the unforeseeable future, the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Many Montanans are not adhering to this recommendation and The Masked Crusaders would like to introduce a PSA Mask Campaign for the Billings area. This PSA would feature well known and highly regarded local individuals wearing masks and encouraging the rest of the community to follow suit.
Family Support Network
  • The Family Support Network is in urgent need of laptop computers to facilitate their employees Zoom meetings with clients and other community partnerships. This includes necessary funding for a business Zoom membership which will allow them to host visitations that last over the 40 minutes allowed on basic free memberships.
Center Pole
  • Center Pole is a 20-year-old, Native, grassroots organization, staffed by community workforce-in-training interns. They are located on the Crow Indian Reservation and serve approximately 20,000 in the greater Crow area, including the Northern Cheyenne community. Center Pole distributes food from their food bank, operates a food recovery project, and offers meals to meet the now-expanded need of desperate families, elders and children during the Covid-19 crisis. Most of thier food distributions are "recovery foods." These are near expiration" foods--meat, produce, dairy, bakery, deli foods etc-- from food outlets in Billings, 70 miles away. This fresh food must be utilized or else it will become land fill, as 40% of the food produced in the United States currently does. Center Pole picks up food in thier truck and horse trailer, transports it, warehouse it and redistribute it in a timely way to low-income citizens of all races--approximately 2.4 million pounds per year.
Mental Health Center
  • Through a wonderful partnership with a local cleaning company, the Mental Health Center's main campus, administrative building and group home can be decontaminated for $3,600, which is a savings of over $10,000. Sibanye-Stillwater has generously offered to donate $1,000 to cover a portion of the cost, leaving a balance of $2,600. A grant from the COVID-19 Community Relief Fund will help cover the remainder. This will help preserve the health and safety of dozens of essential staff who work in these buildings and the thousands of clients they serve.
Community Hope, Inc
  • Community Hope has a desperate need for a disinfecting fogging machine because they have so many different types of surfaces that need to be constantly disinfected and is the only true way they can keep both their elderly volunteers and clients safe. The machine will allow them to have volunteers return safely to thier facility and for more clients to be served. They would also use any additonal funding to purchase food items that are in short supply at their facility.

Friday, May 7

Community Leadership Development, Inc (CLDI)
  • These funds will significantly impact those served by CLDI as it will be applied to daycare, rent, a food pantry, and mental health services for the women living in thieir transitional home known as the Hannah House. Currently 63% of the women living in the Hannah House have lost their jobs due to Covid-19. This has left CLDI covering all programmatic expenses. Assistance costs increased $500 per month and food pantry costs have nearly tripled. There are currently 11 women and 13 kids to feed with two more children anticipated to be reunified within the next month. 
Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools
  • The Education Foundation is seeking support for thier summer reading program, Reading Rocks. Reading Rocks is designed to reverse low-income students' loss of reading skills in the summer by providing free books, reading activities and literacy support to low-income children in our community in conjunction with Billings Public Schools Free Lunch program in the Parks. During the summer of 2019, Reading Rocks distributed 4,798 books to children.  Due to COVID-19 and social distancing orders in place Reading Rocks will need to be ran in a different form summer 2020.  The Education Foundation will partner with the school lunch sites to provide books to children at a safe distance, provide a new bookmark daily with a QR code for the children to scan to hear a reader.  Items needed to make this project happen are: tables for book distribution, purchase hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, Clorox wipes, camera to record reader, green screen for reader back drop, print costs for new bookmark daily, disposable table cloth and extra books for the increased need.  
The Family Tree Center
  • Although the risk to children’s physical health from COVID-19 appears to be low, the risk for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty is quite high. Promoting protective factors in families is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect and to mitigate the negative impacts of trauma. Their staff is currently working with families to promote 6 Protective Factors via video and phone meetings. This grant will provide funds for Home Visitors, Respite Staff and Parent Educators to continue to provide trauma informed services to families to increase their protective factors throughout this pandemic. 
Child Bridge
  • Child Bridge is committed to maintaining existing services to our current foster/adoptive families and the vulnerable kids in their care. Since they are currently unable to hold in-person group gatherings, they have transitioned all of their family support meetings and recruitment efforts online. The requested funds will offset the cost of unplanned technology expenses associated with delivering online training and family support.
Tumbleweed
  • Tumbleweed requested funding to support their newly revived street outreach services provided in response to COVID-19 and sheltering in place orders.  To meet the needs of vulnerable and homeless youth and young adults, Tumbleweed began providing outreach services, literally getting in vehicles and meeting with youth where they are sheltering in place, in late March. Tumbleweed is in need of funds to cover the costs for outreach, a program that was not budgeted for, such as fuel, vehicle maintenance, and food for food boxes.
Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley
  • The Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley (FPYV) Wrap Around and Break the Cycle of Poverty program is the backbone for all services provided to the community from FPYV. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic FPYV has seen an increase in services needed through several programs. FPYV has had increases in utilities and providing internet services at the FPYV Day Center and the Transitional Housing units where our families are completing homeschool and work. Rent for a Mobile Home that we acquired for the Partners in Housing program before the pandemic. FPYV has been paying the lot rent and utilities at that unit as well until the family can move in. FPYV has not been able to provide group transportation to our guests during this time so FPYV has been providing gas, maintenance, and vehicle repairs for the families in our Emergency Shelter Network. These unexpected expenses have added up to over $13,000. 
Dress for Success Billings
  • Dress for Success is requesting money to purchase personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies for their volunteers  to begin no-contact employment suiting for women seeking employment during this pandemic. THey have adapted their suiting services so that volunteers can compile the women's outfits and deliver them without having to meet anyone face to face. 

Thursday, April 30

Our third round of COVID-19 Community Response Fund Grantees in partnership with the Billings Community Foundation brings our total to 17 worthy non-profits benefiting from the kindness of our community! Thank you for your support!

Crow Tribe of Indians
  • Many low/no income individuals & families are in need of items to support them through their daily lives. Emergency Care Packages, which will include household & hygiene items, will be distributed to families based on need with focus on the most vulnerable population of 55 years of age and older. The purpose of this project is to provide assistance to those that are overwhelmed by physical, mental, emotional, social and financial challenges due to the crisis.
Montana Rescue Mission
  • MRM needs to purchase essential food and heath items for homeless men to meet their basic healthcare during the pandemic. Their Men’s Shelter has remained open to provide 3 daily meals, shelter, and counseling to homeless. To protect guests, staff and our community, they closed their doors to volunteers and are solely supporting guests via extensive overtime. A dramatic drop in donations has led to buying critical supplies at full price, further straining stretched funds.
Boys and Girls Club of Yellowstone County
  • The Boys and Girls Club of Yellowstone County's goal is to continue their mission-to serve those who need them most- both during & after the crisis affecting all of us now. On March 23, they re-opened the Bair Family Clubhouse, to provide a full day experience for a number of current members who are homeless or who have parents working in the medical field or as first responders. To mitigate the health risks & keep members & staff as safe as possible, they implemented additional safety & sanitation procedures, one of which is aggressively cleaning each Club space multiple times each day. The grant funds will be used for cleaning & sanitation supplies.
CASA of Yellowstone County
  • CASA of Yellowstone County employs three Program Coordinators who supervise Court Appointed Special Advocates, volunteers appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of children in foster care. The Program Coordinators transmit documents to and from Advocates, and track data on children's medical and educational needs. In continuing to serve children during the COVID-19 crisis, two additional laptops are needed for Program Coordinators to work remotely from home. 

Thursday, April 23

Thank you so much for your support of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund in partnership with the Billings Community Foundation. We have been able to provide emergency funding for 14 local non-profits to date!

Family Service, Inc.
  • These funds will be used to purchase shelf-stable food items for Family Service's Food Distribution program. The number of families and individuals has increased in need of food due to layoffs and reduced hours.  They currently see 150 cars go through the Drive-thru for food daily.
St. Vincent de Paul
  • St. Vincent de Paul is currently serving 200-300 meals a day to the homeless at a cost of about $2.00 per meal. For the homeless, their options for food have narrowed in recent weeks.  They currently serve two hot meals and one bagged meal per day and are preparing to hand out three bagged meals per day if the situation calls for it. This funding will allow them to respond to sudden changes as they happen so that the homeless will not miss a meal. They are committed to feeding this population throughout the crisis.
Billings Family YMCA
  • The Billings Family YMCA will be using their funds for their Emergency Childcare program and financial assistance for essential workers in hardship. By opening their doors and providing full-childcare for grades K-6th, Monday – Friday, parents, who must work, find comfort knowing their child is cared for by trained Y staff in a safe learning environment. With the Summer Food Service Program, nutritional meals are provided ensuring no child goes hungry during this critical time when so many rely on the school food program.
Alternatives, Inc.
  • Alternatives houses over 400 offenders living in pre-release, inpatient & sanction program facilities. Alternatives also services the larger Yellowstone County & surrounding area for misdemeanor, felony, & diversion treatment programs. To maintain Substance Use Disorder & Mental Health Treatment services, the agency is tasked with purchasing units to provide tele-health services by licensed counselors. Without the equipment, these services would be unavailable for approximately 250 clients.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Yellowstone County
  • Their programs are based around one-to-one mentoring relationships between a Big and Little.  These closely monitored relationships have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people who are often at risk for a variety of behaviors, including: drug/alcohol use, violence towards others, school drop out and relational issues. Now more than ever it is vital that our Bigs and Littles maintain their relationships, these funds will ensure that happens.
Gratitude in Action
  • Their newest Reunification Home, Faith House was scheduled to open April 1st. This home houses 3 Moms and their children and 4 additional Moms who are working toward reunification. Their Thrift Store, which assists in funding these homes, was shut down on March 18, 2020 out of concern for their staff and clients. These funds will help in obtaining some of the remaining items needed for the home as well as the initial purchase of household staples.

 

Friday, April 17

Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to grant the first round of COVID-19 Community Response Fund Grants! Read below to find out more about their 

The Salvation Army
  • There has been an increase in the meals needed by their client base due to the strains of the COVID-19 virus.
YWCA Billings
  • A HIPAA compliant virtual meeting platform will allow YWCA’s trauma-informed providers to counsel victims securely and confidentially, without requiring face-to- face meetings. This will increase individual’s safety, and on an ongoing basis increase the capacity of their providers to serve more people. Domestic violence is projected to have a big spike due to economic and other impacts of the present crisis. People today are very technology oriented – and even more so since COVID-19 erupted.
Tumbleweed
  • During the two weeks that Tumbleweed has been closed, their pantry has filled up with donations and purchases several times & has been depleted within a day or two. Food scarcity is becoming more & more prevalent with our community’s youth. As they take in and give out food donations and do street outreach, connecting one-on-one with youth, they need protective gear to keep staff safe. The street outreach is utilizing Tumbleweed’s van and a rented an additional van to allow four people to go out at once while retaining social distancing.
Angela's Piazza: Women's Drop-In Center
  • Angela’s Pizza wishes to help their clients with basic needs. Their program members are all low-wage earners, so finances are always tight. Many have experienced job loss or significantly reduced hours, making their budgets stretch to the point of breaking. Since all clients have histories of domestic violence and addictions, anything to help relieve their stress and anxiety will help, since they cannot come to support groups at this time.
Big Sky Senior Services
  • They now require staff to wear masks and gloves before serving clients in their homes. Additionally, they are taking the temperatures of each client and asking if they are symptomatic before beginning visits to assist with hygiene, medication set up, grocery shopping and/or light homemaking. This has caused an increase in expenses to purchase the necessary equipment.
Boys & Girls Club of The Northern Cheyenne Nation
  • The Northern Cheyenne reservation is isolated and very rural. Many of their community members don’t have the means or the transportation they need to deal with COVID-19; the nearest Walmart is a 220-mile round trip. Business outlets are limited to one grocery store and one gas station for the entire reservation. Many of thier families don’t the means or the resources for cleaning or hygiene products, diapers, formula  including food.
Friendship House of Christian Service
  • Friendship House Preschoolers receive 3 meals each weekday. After-school Youth Enrichment Program and Teen Program students receive dinner daily. The temporary suspension of in-person operations to comply with shelter-in-place directives has eliminated this critical food supply. Many South Billings families lack transportation to access public school meal sites or cannot go at scheduled times due to irregular work schedules. Easter food boxes will fill these gaps and augment nutritious food options.
Montana Rescue Mission
  • The Mission remains open 24/7 to provide 3 daily meals, shelter, clothing, and counseling to homeless women & families during COVID-19. Restaurant closures and a high demand at grocery stores has stopped donations of food to prep meals, as well as supplies, this shelter counts on. Their funds are stretched thin to buy essential food and supplies at full price. Cash donations are significantly falling as donors experience job loss, and portfolios are in steep decline, further straining their limited resources.

Monday, March 30

Big News! We have partnered with The Billings Community Foundation to pool our resources and collaborate on the COVID-19 Community Response Fund!

  • The COVID-19 Community Response Fund was established in partnership by the Billings Community Foundation and the United Way of Yellowstone County. It is receiving support from individuals, corporations, and foundations throughout our region to provide immediate and coordinated response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations in the following counties are eligible for funding: Bighorn County · Carbon County · Custer County · Fergus County · Musselshell County · Rosebud County  · Stillwater County · Treasure County · Yellowstone County.
  • The Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local nonprofit capacity to address all aspects of the outbreak pandemic as efficiently as possible.
  • The Fund's first priority and focus is to distribute grants to nonprofit organizations providing disaster relief efforts and serving economically vulnerable children, families, and seniors impacted by COVID-19.

FUND GUIDELINES

  • Seventy-five percent of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund will be available via a quick easy grant process to 501©3 organizations to address basic needs of vulnerable populations.
  • Twenty-five percent of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund will go directly to the Yellowstone County Continuum of Care to meet shelter and homelessness diversion needs such as rent assistance.  This existing coordinated effort is best suited to address individual emergency housing needs, and duplicative processes do not need to be setup.
  • In order to stay responsive to needs, the guidelines and application may adapt.
  • The fund will be maintained until such a time as it is deemed unnecessary.
  • The Billings Community Foundation and United Way of Yellowstone County encourage donations directly to nonprofits.  In the case of corporations, individuals and others who desire to support our community’s most vulnerable during this time, but do not know how, OR those who wish to support the shelter and diversion capacity of Continuum of Care partners, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund serves as an easy and trustworthy conduit.
  • Donations are Tax Deductible.

 

Friday, March 19
We at United Way of Yellowstone County are committed to the safety and well-being of our community. We want to keep the community safe from possible infection, but we also recognize that we must continue to meet the needs of families who rely upon us and upon our partners when they are in need. 
 
The state’s preventive measures have caused a ripple effect throughout Montana communities. Recent dismissals and closures of schools, mandated teleworking, and event cancellations may cause food shortages, income loss, and lack of access to community resources.  
 
We are currently focusing our efforts on three strategies:  
  • 211 Referrals and Updates 
  • We encourage any members of the community in need of services to dial 2-1-1 or to visit Montana211.org 
  • COVID-19 Fund 
  • We have initiated a COVID-19 Community Response Fund to help provide resources to Yellowstone County 501(c)3 organizations working with local families affected by the outbreak. Guidelines to access funds will be available in the coming days.
  • If you are able, please consider a contribution to this fund.
  • Agency Needs 
  • The United Way of Yellowstone County’s website will be regularly updated with information from our community partners to let the public know about any changes to services or hours.   
  • View the current list here.
 
We are also doing all we can to keep our staff safe. Given the seriousness of the situation, we created the following health and safety guidelines to support and protect our staff, partners, and community.
 
These guidelines will be in place for the foreseeable future, but we will reassess as new information emerges.  
 
  • We have temporarily closed our office starting Monday, March 16, and our staff is working remotely.  
  • Staff members are available by phone or email.  
 
  • All in-person meetings will either be rescheduled or held by phone or video conference.  
  • We believe this is the most responsible action we can take to safeguard the health and safety of our staff while protecting the wider community.  
 
  • We will remain in contact with all of our employees as well as our board, partners, and community members. 
 
United Way of Yellowstone County is grateful to its partner agencies, staff, donors, corporate partners, and others for supporting us during this difficult time. We are committed to leading the effort to meet the needs of our local community. 
Wednesday, March 18

We are aware that this post has gone viral on social media and believe it was started by an individual who contacted Indiana 211 and received assistance, who wanted to share it with good intentions. The number listed is the direct line for Indiana 211, and the assistance it refers to is related to United Way of Central Indiana’s COVID-19 fund.

If you are in need of assistance in Montana, dial 211 or visit www.montana211.org

Monday, March 16

The United Way of Yellowstone County is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) developments and following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) recommendations. Information is rapidly evolving, and we are working quickly to identify how we can support our staff, partners, and Yellowstone County during this time.

Given the seriousness of the situation, we created the following health and safety guidelines to support and protect our staff, partners, and community. These guidelines will be in place for the foreseeable future, but we will reassess as new information emerges.

• We are closing our office starting Monday, March 16, and our staff will be working remotely. We will be conducting business as usual and will be available by phone or email.

• All in-person meetings will either be rescheduled or held by phone or video conference. We believe this is the most responsible action we can take to safeguard the health and safety of our staff while protecting the wider community.

For more information about the coronavirus pandemic, we recommend following the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS), and your county public health department for news about your local area (Yellowstone County).

If you are in need of resources, dial 211 or visit www.montana211.org.

The United Way of Yellowstone County Team

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