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As of: 5:18 PM, 10/26/21

Giving Together Story

Non-profit Support During COVID-19

This Tuesday, May 5, is #GivingTuesdayNow – a global day of unity to provide support for communities and nonprofits as a response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. In Michigan, we want to express our deepest gratitude to the nonprofits caring for our communities, our family, friends and neighbors during these difficult times.

In March and April, the Consumers Energy Foundation announced more than $1 million in support for nonprofits around the state including the Food Bank Council of Michigan, the Michigan Association of United Ways, and community foundations across lower Michigan.

We’re proud to come together with Michigan nonprofits to share our commitment to address the challenges the coronavirus presents and deliver the support needed to our residents and small businesses. These nonprofits are providing some of the most critical and urgent needs of Michigan’s people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19, and they rely on donations to fund their efforts.

Here is a look behind the scenes at three nonprofits who received funds from the Consumers Energy Foundation: Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Capital Area United Way, and Manistee County Community Foundation.

Food for Thought

Since 1981, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan has grown to serve more than 331,000 people annually, distributing approximately 30 million pounds of food per year across 22 Michigan counties.

Over the past six weeks, the food bank has seen an increase in demand and has already distributed 4.8 million pounds – that’s 2.67 million more pounds of food over the same period last year.

Typically, the food bank procures food from surpluses in the grocery industry and food donations. However, during this unprecedented time, food donations from retail partners has decreased as a result of their increased demand. With food donations in decline, more product is now purchased, and they have to use additional dollars to procure food from locations all over the country.

“We have also had to do this without our typical volunteer support,” said Kara Ross, President and CEO of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. “We rely on approximately 7,000 volunteers per year to help sort and process food, but we have had to suspend volunteer operations to keep everyone safe and are relying on our staff and support from the Michigan National Guard.”

The food bank has shifted its food distributions to drive-through style operations and has increased the number of distributions in each county it serves – all with less helping hands.

"Our ability to shift our operations and adapt and serve the needs of the community during emergencies simply wouldn't be possible without support from partners like the Consumers Energy Foundation," Ross said. "This support gets food quickly and directly to the people in Michigan who need it most."

In anticipation of the growing need for food, the Consumers Energy Foundation donated $250,000 to the Food Bank Council of Michigan to distribute to its regional food bank network – including the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Funds from donors help the food bank provide more food into the community by offsetting costs for food, shipping, storage, and transportation. For every dollar donated, Food Bank of Easter Michigan provides approximately six meals. To help with the fight against hunger, visit www.fbem.org/donate.

United We Stand

For over 100 years, Capital Area United Way has been a catalyst for change that mobilizes a caring community to improve people’s lives – fighting for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties.

Like communities across the nation, the greater Lansing area has seen an increase in households requesting assistance for the most basic needs – housing, utilities, child care, etc.

“For ALICE [Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed] households and those in poverty, life was already a financial struggle even before the pandemic hit,” said Teresa Kmetz, President & CEO of Capital Area United Way. “Now, more than ever, ALICE needs our help.”

ALICE needs help to keep the heat on, the water flowing, and the rent paid. ALICE needs help paying for child care so they can go to work at their essential job. Capital Area United Way has resources available right now for people who are struggling financially because of the COVID-19 crisis. Its Emergency Relief Fund can help with up to $1,200 for basic needs such as rent/mortgage, utilities, and child care for those who have experienced a loss of income due to the pandemic.

In March, the Consumers Energy Foundation donated $250,000 to the Michigan Association of United Ways to distribute to United Ways with emergency response activities across the state. However, times are challenging, and the need is great.

“Consumers Energy Foundation continues to display unparalleled generosity and commitment to their communities in the state of Michigan,” Kmetz said. “Because of the generosity of the Consumers Energy Foundation, people in need of financial assistance due to the COVID-19 crisis can call 2-1-1 to initiate a rapid response to meet their basic financial obligations.”

Together, with your support through the Emergency Relief Fund, we can continue to give these households what they need most right now – hope and help. For more information and to donate, visit www.micauw.org/emergency-fund.

Building a Foundation of Support

Manistee County has been deeply impacted as a result of COVID-19. The County’s most vulnerable residents are facing new challenges in accessing critical services, and others are seeking assistance with meeting basic needs for the first time.

The Manistee County Community Foundation has activated a Community Response Fund through a cooperative effort between the Foundation, United Way of Manistee County, and the Manistee County Human Services Collaborative Body to provide a collective vehicle for charitable giving and support collaborative grantmaking and programming in response to COVID-19.

“Manistee County Community Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Manistee County – today, and in the future,” said Laura Heintzelman, president and CEO of the Manistee County Community Foundation. “The Community Response Fund is a testament to that commitment.”

The Community Response Fund was activated to respond swiftly to assist area nonprofit organizations, schools, and governments on the front lines serving those most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The CRF helps to fill gaps not being met by existing nonprofit, local, state and federal programs to assist the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected members of the Manistee community.

For example, many households – including workers and students – lack reliable access to the internet that is required of them to succeed. As the pandemic continues, social and emotional health is also a growing concern.

To support efforts like these, Consumers Energy Foundation distributed $10,000 grants totaling $360,000 since April to 36 community foundations supporting in 59 Michigan counties with emergency relief.

“On behalf of the Foundation, our CRF partners, and our entire Manistee County community, we offer our deep gratitude to the Consumers Energy Foundation for this critical support for our residents during this time of unprecedented need,” Heintzelman said. “Contributions will be used to meet immediate needs today and future needs resulting from COVID-19.”

For more information on how to help, www.manisteeefoundation.org/give.