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Rochester community bands together during pandemic

The Rochester community is known for giving back and this week there is more proof of that.

As of Tuesday, when the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc. and the Rochester Area Community Foundation began coordinating support for those in need through a Community Crisis Fund, nearly $2 million had been raised, including $1 million from the ESL Charitable Foundation.

“In this time of great uncertainty and great need, our community is doing what it does best—coming together and working together to ensure the needs of families across our community are being met,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello at a news conference yesterday. “I am proud to lead a community with this much compassion and willingness to help and with incredible organizations and foundations that are stepping up in the face of this challenge.”

Last week, local foundations came together to pool and disburse an initial $260,000 to help Foodlink Inc. address the immediate food insecurity that resulted from school closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The distribution comprises funding from Rochester Area Community Foundation, the United Way, Wegmans Food Markets Inc., ESL Charitable Foundation, the Greater Rochester Health Foundation and the Farash Foundation.

“The giving nature of Greater Rochester’s people truly shines in moments such as these,” said ESL Federal Credit Union President and CEO Faheem Masood. “At ESL, we were exploring ways in which we could help the community during these unfamiliar times, and the creation of the Community Crisis Fund became the ideal opportunity to ensure our donation would best be distributed among those who need it most.”

In the last several days, additional support from MVP Health and the United Way has been committed to the fund. The grants enable regular fund distributions on a rolling basis and help make it possible to move resources quickly and adapt to evolving needs, officials said.

Separately, other businesses and organizations are pitching in to help. TES Staffing beginning March 20 will provide free lunches to community members in need. The organization will have roughly 100 meals in to-go containers being cooked on the spot and available for pick up at its University Avenue offices.

Each meal will consist of a hot dog on a bun and a bag of chips or a cookie. TES Staffing plans to provide the lunches each Friday for a month, but also is looking for businesses and individuals to donate or help in the endeavor, with the goal of turning it into a daily event.

“The closure of businesses and the abrupt decline in the local economy has slowed down our business activities tremendously and has shaken this community and its workers, with no notice,” said TES Staffing President Brian Harding. “As a local staffing agency that relies on this community’s businesses, but also our community members, we feel it is our responsibility to use this time to support the community and its members in need.”

DiBella’s Subs also is planning to help the community through an initiative that will cut prices in half for first responders, health care workers and active military; donate 50 percent of all regular sales including catering orders to community food banks; and waive delivery fees for all orders of $15 or more placed through DiBellas.com.

“Our primary goals are to do all that we can right now for our communities, for our employees, and those who need us the most who are working hard to keep us all safe,” said DiBella’s President Peter Fox in a statement. “We have to band together and take care of each other. We may not have profitable sales with these initiatives, but it will help us to continue to do as much as we can to employ our team so they can come to work every day and also have the satisfaction of helping others.”

vspicer@bridgetowermedia.com / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

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