The Canby City Council last week unanimously approved a proposal to allocate more than $150,000 in federal coronavirus relief funding to support the charitable work of The Canby Center, Canby Adult Center and Canby Kiwanis Club.
“For once, you’ll hear me say I’m excited to give away money,” Finance Director Julie Blums quipped as she explained the proposed program shortly before councilors approved it last week.
The proposal allocated the bulk of the available funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to The Canby Center, to be passed through to Canby residents in need of rent and utility assistance.
Under the terms of the CARES Act, the residents’ needs must be directly related to financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has to be directly related to Covid-19, whether that’s a job loss or they themselves were ill,” Blums explained. “And that will be up to The Canby Center to verify.”
The Canby Center has seen greatly increased need for food in the local area during the pandemic, as has the Canby Adult Center, which organizes and oversees the local Meals on Wheels program, delivering handmade hot food to seniors — who are generally much more at risk for serious complications due to Covid-19.
“When the pandemic hit …. they looked at the most vulnerable of their population that really should not be leaving their homes at any time,” Blums said of the adult center. “They created shelf-stable foods to provide these seniors an extra two meals a week, but their funding for that program ended in June.”
The city’s proposal — which the council approved — was to reimburse the adult center for these additional meals from July through September, an estimated cost of $10,000.
Finally, the city addressed a request for support from the Canby Kiwanis Club, whose annual Canby Community Food & Toy Drive serves hundreds of local families and children each Christmas season.
Kiwanians are anticipating higher need this year — at precisely a time when they are unable to follow most of their traditional ways of collecting food, toys and other donations.
Instead of food boxes, the club plans to give away gift cards for groceries this year — at an estimated cost of $30,000. The city wanted to pick up half the tab, but there was one problem.
“We really searched through the CARES Act rules to find a way to make their need fit, and it does not,” Blums explained. “So, we have tried to be creative because we feel their need and what they do is very important to our community.”
Though the federal rules did not accommodate the specific needs of the nonprofit, they do permit government entities — like the City of Canby — to be reimbursed for increased staff time related to responding to the pandemic.
Staff’s proposal — which was, again, approved by the council — was to accept the reimbursement for staff time and, essentially, pass this amount through to the Canby Kiwanis Club.
Mayor Brian Hodson was among those who pushed for finding a way to support Kiwanis and its work in the community.
“I think it’s an important piece, for sure,” he said. “I think if there’s a way to figure out how to help Kiwanis out, that is something we should pursue. Kick open any doors and open as many windows as we can to try to make that happen, because they help the community a great deal, especially during the holiday season.”
Councilor Greg Parker lauded city staff and the partnering nonprofits for their excellent work in developing the new program.
“Isn’t it great that we have something like The Canby Center and [Director] Ray Keen, that is just above reproach, that when we need a nonprofit we can partner with, we have one?” Parker asked, rhetorically. “This is all good, and it’s going with tremendous speed. Bureaucracies are not used to moving this quickly.”
In a joint action, the council also approved the creation of the Canby Resiliency Grant Program, which allocated an additional $150,000 in CARES funding to help struggling local businesses.
Under this program, local small businesses who experienced financial hardship this year due to Covid-19 can apply for one-time grants of up to $10,000 (depending on the size of the business).
For more information about the Canby Resiliency Grant Program, contact Canby Economic Development Director Jamie Stickel at 503-266-0701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spanish-speaking business owners should contact Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator Calvin LeSueur at 503-266-0772 and email@example.com.
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