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Bright Side Covid-19 Feature Stories

Hammonton Attributes Successful COVID-19 Response to Transform South Jersey Community Grant & Training

Hammonton, NJ – As the potential impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic became apparent in early March, the Town of Hammonton immediately established a Coronavirus Task Force designed to help the community cope with the effects of the virus. Community leaders were able to move quickly thanks to knowledge they had gained and relationships they had built through the Community Foundation of South Jersey’s (CFSJ) Transform South Jersey grant application process and subsequent grant award.

As a result, the Task Force has been successful in helping the community unite during this national health crisis and plan for the future.

Transform South Jersey is based on the Orton Family Foundation’s proven national Community Heart & Soul model which empowers residents to shape their future based on what matters most to them. Hammonton was one of five communities in the CFSJ’s eight-county service area selected to receive the prestigious $100,000 grant earlier this year. CFSJ works with local nonprofits to build capital, contribute assets, and create permanent endowments for long-term impact. By aligning donor interests and using the investment earnings on each of its endowed funds, CFSJ makes grants and builds leadership within the community to create thriving, equitable, and livable communities for all.

The Hammonton Coronavirus Task Force includes four separate committees that are focused on the health and safety of the community, relieving the economic impact of the Pandemic, supporting community goodwill and outreach and communication. “Going through the Heart & Soul process we learned a great deal including the need to identify new community leaders, to communicate rapidly and more directly, and to actively engage all facets of the community including government, service providers, and cultural groups,” said Cassie Iacovelli, MainStreet Hammonton Executive Director. “The Pandemic accelerated the idea that we needed residents to leave any preconceived perceptions behind and work together to help the community at large, which is exactly what we have done with this Task Force.”

“One of the many things we learned during the application process and are addressing with this Task Force is a need to more broadly engage the senior community in order to better understand and address their needs and concerns,” said Task Force Co-Chairperson Jim Donio, who is an active community volunteer and a Co-Founder of the Eagle Theatre. “Another is to be more inclusive by embracing the diversity in our community in order to bring everyone together, from businesses and faith leaders to community groups and residents.”

The Task Force has also kicked-off planning to establish a Hammonton Community Fund which would initially be targeted to help with Covid-19 economic relief efforts. “This has been an unprecedented economic shutdown with effects that no one could have predicted,” said Task Force member Rich Rehmann, President of ARH Associates, Inc. “The Task Force is fortunate to be in a position where we can leverage both the resources we have brought together within the community, along with the expertise of the CFSJ to bring hope to those facing challenges brought about by the immediate effects of the virus and longer-standing systemic issues that we face.”

“During this time of crisis and uncertainty, we are inspired by how our community partners are stepping up to meet the evolving needs and challenges associated with the impacts of Coronavirus throughout South Jersey,” said CFSJ Executive Director Andy Fraizer. “Community Foundation is committed to working with our partners to address both the immediate needs of our neighbors and to plan for the longer-term needs of our communities.”

“We strongly believe following the Heart & Soul model will not only improve the constant engagement required by all stakeholders and community members within the town, but it will also lead to a long-standing, positive impact throughout the Hammonton community,” Donio concluded.

Community Foundation of South Jersey

The Community Foundation of South Jersey (CFSJ) envisions an eight-county region thriving where all neighbors aspire, succeed, participate, and give. The vision is realized as CFSJ inspires generosity, manages and deploys permanent charitable assets, and exercises collaborative leadership to create a more equitable region.

CFSJ works with South Jersey philanthropists, local nonprofits, and neighbors to build capital, contribute assets, and create permanent endowments for impact in perpetuity. By aligning donor interests and using the investment earnings on each of its endowed funds, CFSJ makes grants and builds leadership within the community to create thriving, equitable, and livable communities for all.

Currently, CFSJ manages assets of $22 million in donor-advised funds. Along with its fund-holders, CFSJ has issued more than $9 million in nonprofit grants and scholarships. Learn more about CFSJ at CommunityFoundationSJ.org.

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