Centre County United Way announces ‘disaster’ funds amid COVID-19 pandemic

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Centre County United Way has announced the availability of funding to assist Centre County residents who are facing financial struggles as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have stated that $150,000 will be utilized, in part from the Hamer Foundation Community Disaster Fund, during the first phase of funding with additional support being made available as needed.

In 2015, local philanthropist Don Hamer, established the Hamer Foundation Community Disaster Fund to help people in Centre County who are affected by a disaster. Managed by the Centre County United Way, it serves as a “second tier” of emergency funding when other sources have been pursued and exhausted. Hamer was inspired to set up the fund after witnessing the effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Although originally conceived as a natural disaster relief fund, Hamer most likely did not expect a disaster, like the recent pandemic, to ever take the far-reaching toll it has on communities around the globe.

“We are confident that Mr. Hamer would have jumped into action had he been here to experience this pandemic,” stated Patrick Morse, Hamer Foundation Trustee. “Our trust in Centre County United Way to act as a conduit for Don’s compassion is unwavering.”

Individuals in need will have to contact Centre Helps to be eligible for financial assistance. Centre Helps will either apply for funding on your behalf or refer you to an organization that can best assess your needs and explore all available support before applying for Hamer funds.

Requests for rent, mortgage payments, food, utility bills, medication costs, and childcare are among the needs being addressed.

“We are very fortunate that Don Hamer entrusted United Way with this important fund and that we are now able to help our neighbors in Centre County who are most affected during this time.”

Wendy Vinhage, Executive Director of CCUW

The Truist Financial Corporation Foundation also provided a $10,000 grant to CCUW, which is part of the financial services company’s Truist Cares initiative to support basic needs, medical supplies, and financial hardship relief due to COVID-19. This funding will be included in the money available through the application process.

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