Sussex County Relief Program provides gift to immigrant families affected by COVID-19
Arsht-Cannon Fund donates $250,000 to immigrant families affected by the pandemic
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The Arsht-Cannon Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation has donated $150,000 to the Sussex County Relief Program to help southern Delaware’s Latino immigrant families in the greatest need. This gift raises the fund’s investment in the relief program to $250,000 since July.
Nationally and locally, COVID-19 has taken a health and financial toll on immigrants, leaving them struggling to meet basic needs.
“During these tough times when so much in life is at stake, we want families to have the security of a warm home, clean water, healthy food, and internet access to connect with school, friends and community,” said ACF Executive Director Dr. Christine Cannon.
Sussex County Relief Program, a collaboration between the Georgetown-based First State Community Action Agency and La Esperanza, formed in April 2020 to support immigrant families in crisis. Since June, they have distributed funds to 300-plus families, with more than 1,200 family members.
The relief program focuses on paying rent, utilities, the internet and essentials such as food, helping families with basic needs that must be met before learning is possible.
“We realized that the economic stimulus and relief resources that were accessible to citizens would not be available to many immigrant families in desperate need,” said La Esperanza Executive Director Jennifer Fuqua.
Latino and other immigrant families have suffered from a higher COVID infection rate because of their exposure as essential workers, multigenerational living arrangements, higher number of risk factors, and multiple barriers to health information and care.
Fuqua said the financial impact of losing jobs without unemployment benefits, no paid sick time, and exclusion from government stimulus payments and health insurance are devastating families.
The fund also helps qualified families find the services and programs they need through the Navigation and Family Coaching Program that La Colectiva de Delaware developed with La Esperanza’s staff in 2018.
The Delaware COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund made an initial investment in the program of $50,000 and the Matthew Haley Fund provided $50,000, bringing the total to $350,000.
“Philanthropy allows us to respond to individual families’ needs. We have also implemented an intake process that assesses the self-sufficiency of individuals and families and connects them to a referral network based on their needs,” said First State Community Action Agency Executive Director Bernice Edwards.
Fuqua foresees a bleak winter for immigrants in southern Delaware.
“We’re proud that 100 percent of funds have gone directly to families,” Fuqua said.
The Arsht-Cannon Fund was established in 2004 through the gift of the estate of the Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht and S. Samuel Arsht to the Delaware Community Foundation. The endowed fund benefits Delaware’s Latino families by partnering and funding nonprofits that provide educational opportunities — improving the lives of all Delawareans.