Putting grant money to use

Lakewood’s COVID-19 Nonprofit Impact Grant program assists 24 nonprofits

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/24/20

Tyler Stratton says he is rebuilding his life at JUUST Living, a nonprofit sober living facility in Lakewood for healing and recovery from addictions. Stratton recently lost his technology company …

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Putting grant money to use

Lakewood’s COVID-19 Nonprofit Impact Grant program assists 24 nonprofits

Posted

Tyler Stratton says he is rebuilding his life at JUUST Living, a nonprofit sober living facility in Lakewood for healing and recovery from addictions.

Stratton recently lost his technology company and turned to JUUST Living for help last month when he moved into the facility. And while he is living there, he is making the most of his opportunity by doing online college courses as he strives for a degree in health informatics.

“I call (JUUST Living) an international recovery community,” said Stratton. “We are putting in a business center. We have a garden. Dogs are allowed here. There is an outdoor space for congregating and having food or a get together. It’s a neat space, and it’s something you don’t find anywhere.”

Nonprofits like JUUST Living were targeted through Lakewood’s COVID-19 Nonprofit Impact Grant program, a $375,000 fund meant for nonprofit organizations who are working to respond to COVID-19 related impacts affecting Lakewood residents. The program was funded through the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security act, intended to help state, county and local governments recover from the pandemic. Lakewood City Council approved the program on May 11, and thanks to funds from it, 24 large and small nonprofits received financial assistance — including JUUST Living, received a $5,000 grant.

JUUST Living is barley over a year old, and Executive Director Ruth Rinehar said it was suffering financial repercussions due to the pandemic. The nonprofit is using its grant money to stabilize the organization, supply its facility, pay for recovery coaching and to help its residents pay their $600 monthly fee to stay at JUUST Living.

“COVID-19 has been devastating for people in recovery because of the isolation factor, the fear and the disrupt in income from jobs lost, furloughs and fewer hours,” said Rinehart. One of JUUST Living’s residents was sick in March, and the other residents were forced to quarantine while that individual waited for her COVID-19 test results.

Family Tree, a Jefferson County based nonprofit that works with people affected by child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness, used its $4,500 grant from Lakewood to support residents who need immediate assistance with transportation or groceries through its Homelessness Program — designed to help those who are suffering from homelessness or who are at-risk of being homeless.

Katherine Lawson, chief development officer for Family Tree, said its helpline is receiving an above average call volume to its Homelessness Program compared to what call rates were like before the pandemic.

“Every dollar counts. We want to be able to provide as much assistance as we can to keep people stable or to help in their stability,” said Lawson.

Westgate Elementary in Lakewood, which serves children in grades preschool through fifth, was the lone school to receive funds from the COVID-19 Nonprofit Impact Grant program. The school has a food and clothing pantry that serves around 4,200 students throughout Jefferson County and received a $1,000 grant through the city that was used to support it.

Heather Jurgaitis, the director of Westgate’s pantry, estimates that the school is serving twice as many residents as it did before the pandemic. Jurgaitis said in the food pantry industry, you get what you get in terms of food donations from food banks. But when food pantries get a cash donation, they can purchase specific types of food like ramen noodles that can be easily cooked by children whose parents may be working during the day.

Virginia Lindemann, Westgate’s principal, said some of the families the school serves have lost their jobs and are having to make a decision to pay rent or buy food.

“We’re a net. We can’t meet all people’s needs — but we have resources we’re able to offer them,” she said.

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