Difference Makers: Tri-State Non-Profits Mobilize To Support Those In Need Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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By WCBS Newsradio 880
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HARTFORD, Conn. (WCBS 880) — The coronavirus pandemic has halted life as we know it, and for the most vulnerable population, non-profit organizations in the Tri-State Area are stepping up to serve.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced the formation of a new charity on Wednesday named Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection or 4-CT, founded by two Fairfield County residents, Don Kendall and Ted Yang, who run Social Venture Partners - Connecticut, which is a collective of donors and other philanthropic groups.

There are 12-14 non-profits in the state that are now working together as part of 4-CT to provide resources such as housing, food delivery for the elderly, and child care for those in need.

"One of the things we're also trying to do with 4-CT is not only provide the resources and the strategic investment, but also perhaps provide a funnel for the young people who are at home," said Lamont, adding that it can offer a minimum wage job for students home from school because of the pandemic.

Lamont pointed to food banks that are overwhelmed by demand. Volunteers and minimum wage workers are needed to deliver nutritious food to people's homes while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Most people unable to get food are most vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, especially elderly residents.

There are people who would like to volunteer, but are concerned about their own safety.

"Volunteers who used to serve food at the soup kitchen are now driving," said David Munshine, of the Munshine Group, based in New Jersey, which specializes in marketing for non-profit organizations. 

"Arm In Arm, an organization in Princeton and Trenton, they are delivering to doorsteps," Munshine told WCBS producer Neil A. Carousso. "They've seen a surge in volunteers, who when they go out to get their own groceries, they can drop off a few bags of groceries for people who can't get out."

Building Homes for Heroes was established after 9/11 to provide mortgage-free homes to veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is now sending money to vets who are losing wages because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Those who have been traumatized in the past, those who suffer from PTSD, any sort of trauma is a trigger for many of them, unfortunately, and (the coronavirus pandemic) certainly meets that definition," Munshine said, noting many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. 

Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they’re living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder.

Stamford Mayor David Martin launched "Stamford Together" - a citywide volunteer program to provide support for the emergency response efforts related to the COVID-19 health crisis.

"Senior outreach program: Some of them are alone and they may need help getting their prescription, or getting food from the grocery store, or getting meals delivered or whatever it is that they may have as a special need," Mayor Martin told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.

One can also distribute meals to school children and those with medical experience are needed to test patients for coronavirus.

"I really am moved by the fact that people are coming forward who want to volunteer, who want to help during this crisis," Mayor Martin said, emphasizing every precaution will be taken to protect volunteers.

Tri-State Non-Profit Organizations in Need of Volunteers and Resources:

Arm In Arm​

Building Homes for Heroes

Monmouth Conservation Foundation

Mustard Seed School

nourish.NJ

Project Self-Sufficiency 

Stamford Together

4-CT

Front-line Appreciation Group

Feed the Frontline Workers of NYC