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PCF Jumps to Relieve Nonprofits Serving Most Vulnerable Amid Coronavirus

In times of crisis, the Pasadena Community Foundation is ready to move.
PCF, which is dedicated to managing charitable assets and earmarking money to nonprofit organizations of all kinds, didn’t expect a deadly pandemic like coronavirus to become the crisis in question, but the Foundation was at the ready recently to distribute emergency grant funds. It has focused on relieving organizations serving seniors and distributing food and supplies to low-income individuals and families which will help fight the growing food insecurity amid economic and social distancing fallout from COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, California has had a lot of other kinds of disasters over the years, fires, mass shootings, earthquakes — we always thought the next one would be an earthquake. So we’ve learned from other community associations over the years, and we had Emergency Disaster Planning in place already,” said PCF President/CEO Jennifer DeVoll, noting that PCF is ready to leverage all of its grant-making resources to support Pasadena’s nonprofits in the coming weeks and months. “We are mobilizing our resources and relationships. We are balancing the immediate needs with the knowledge that this crisis will have a long tail.”
PCF said it is now proceeding with a three-phase, rapid grant-making strategy after launching its COVID-19 Response Fund on March 17, just days ahead of the “Safer at Home” order throughout L.A. County that would drastically alter life for Pasadenans.
Within a week, PCF conducted 20 interviews with city, school and community leaders, and nonprofit executives and consulted with community foundation peers to quickly assess the greatest needs and create a plan of action to confront the magnitude of the pandemic, DeVoll said.
The nonprofit this week distributed emergency grant funds to organizations serving seniors and distributing food and supplies to low-income individuals and families, including the Armenian Relief Society, Families in Transition, Foothill Unity, Friends in Deed, Meals on Wheels, Pasadena Senior Center, Salvation Army, Senior Care Network, and Union Station Homeless Services.
“As we spoke with community and nonprofit leaders, many themes emerged, but chief among them were immediate food insecurity and concerns for low-income seniors who are now homebound,” said Kate Clavijo, PCF senior program officer. “We expect needs to evolve in the coming weeks, and we will continue to gather feedback to guide our decision-making as we enter the short-term phase of our response in April.”
The PCF COVID-19 Response Fund was seeded with an initial commitment of $100,000, and has grown with gifts from community members and collected resources to about $350,000. In order to further extend its grant-making capacity at this critical time, the foundation has also released restrictions on about $200,000 in existing grants to allow the recipient organizations to use current grant funds for their most urgent needs.
“PCF now anticipates that the majority of our 2020 grantmaking will be directed towards easing the financial burdens of the COVID-19 crisis for local nonprofits,” DeVoll said. “The COVID-19 Response Fund has grown threefold in the past week due to the enduring generosity of PCF’s donors and fund holders.
“It is one more example of our community’s extraordinary commitment to philanthropy, and to each other,” she added.
For those nonprofits on the receiving end of the PCF emergency grants, the money came in the nick of time, according to Patti Feldmeth, president of Pasadena Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels’ local food delivery service for those homebound jumped by 40% in the last two weeks at the nonprofit due to COVID-19, she noted. Adjustments in the food delivery process were enacted to insure the safety of its clients and its volunteers, creating more hardship, and many of the nonprofit’s regular volunteers are retirees over the age of 65 and are advised to stay at home.
“This grant money will allow us, without consideration of cost, to help the most vulnerable homebound seniors in Pasadena — these dear folks tell us each day how grateful they are that we care and they are not forgotten,” Feldmeth said.
Meanwhile, wonderful new people have stepped up to help deliver and fill the gaps left by the nonprofit’s usual volunteer crew, Feldmeth said.
“Our volunteers are putting themselves at risk to make sure the seniors we serve are safe and continue to receive their meals. It’s encouraging to live in a community where so many are selflessly stepping up to help in any way they can, be it delivering meals, donating to provide more meals, or just calling to make sure that we are safe,” she said.
PCF also gave a grant to the Pasadena Salvation Army, which recently announced plans to expand its food bank to serve local families and homeless individuals. The nonprofit also saw a spike in the number of families seeking food assistance due to the effects of COVID-19, said Salvation Army Captain Terry Masango.
“We’ve done our best to keep the basic food needs of Pasadena families met, however food donations have not kept the pace with the demand for food,” Masango said. “The good news is that, thanks to the generosity of organizations such as PCF, we are going to purchase enough food to distribute regularly to those in need.”
In the meantime, PCF will begin enacting its longer term plan to repurpose its grants budget to a COVID-19 response, developing guidelines for the deployment of an additional $500,000.
“The role of a community foundation is to serve the changing needs of its community,” DeVoll said. “We are nimble and able to react quickly. And we have.”
To learn more about the Pasadena Community Foundation and its COVID-19 Response Fund, visit

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