Community rallying in support of St. Francis Center clients

Community rallying in support of St. Francis Center clients

in Community/Featured/Headline

At a time of need, the Redwood City community continues to create hope through collaboration. Aiming to offer peace of mind for vulnerable community members during the COVID-19 crisis, the St. Francis Center pledged no evictions for the 180 low-income apartments it operates in the North Fair Oaks community, and is committed to maintaining its safety-net services such as food, clothing and immigration counseling. But the pandemic is dealing financial uncertainty to nonprofits, as well.

“You can feel the fear in the community,” said Sister Christina Heltsley, the nonprofit’s executive director. “These families live paycheck to paycheck… savings is a privileged notion here.”

There have been rays of hope. The St. Francis Center recently received a $100,000 donation in emergency funding from Jay Paul, a longtime supporter, who also set aside 22 units for rent-free housing in Redwood City during this time of challenge. The nonprofit also received a $150,000 donation from Ned and Carol Spieker.

Heltsley said these and other generous donations will ease the nonprofit’s fears in the coming month. But the financial future is uncertain for the St. Francis Center and other nonprofits serving the most vulnerable populations, she said. While local governments have passed moratoriums on evictions for residents made jobless by the shelter-in-place order, the fear of being unable to pay rent remains at the top of their minds, said Heltsley. Some families served at the St. Francis Center will not qualify for government aid programs, Heltsley said.

“These are our beloved nannies, housekeepers, gardeners,” she said, urging those with the resources to continue paying them during this period.

“If you have the resources, please remember your favorite charities during this time,” Heltsley added.

Adding support is San Mateo County, which sank $3 million into the San Mateo Strong Fund aiming in part to support the nonprofits serving the most vulnerable county residents. At its meeting Monday, Redwood City council added $300,000 to that large-scale fundraising effort, and also $393,000 for emergency rental assistance. The Fund continues seeking larger-scale donations aimed at supporting individuals, families, and small businesses in addition to nonprofits.