09:20 AM

Partnering to Meet a Crisis

For the first time since its inception in October 2005, last spring the Jackson EMC Foundation distributed emergency grants, awarding funds to organizations serving those hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within weeks of shelter-in-place mandates,people lost jobs, families lost housing and children lost the normalcy of school days. At the same time, area nonprofit organizations worked to meet the surge in need for their services.

To help them help others, the Jackson EMC Foundation awarded emergency grants to 32 agencies that rapidly responded to the crisis by feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and providing medicine for the sick. One recipient group summed it up: “We were so excited and grateful for the grant. It meant we didn’t have to turn anyone away.”

In its 15 years, the Jackson EMC Foundation has awarded a total of $15,708,412 in grants. This year, the Foundation awarded $969,319 in regular grants and another $270,757 in emergency grants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Salvation Army / Athens: $10,000 for housing, shelter and food.

What might have been a terrible experience for Shylexius and her baby was instead a joyful memory, thanks to the Salvation Army. Shylexius was in her third trimester of pregnancy when her family became homeless and moved into a Salvation Army shelter in Athens just as the pandemic was starting.They lived there for four months. On May 21, baby Brooklynn was born at Piedmont Athens Regional and four days later mother and child returned“home” to the shelter. “I’m more than grateful,” Shylexius said.


North Gwinnett Cooperative / Buford$20,000 for food and medication.

In March and April, North Gwinnett Cooperative distributed more food than in all of 2019, according to Executive Director Kim Phillips. “We saw a lot of anxiety and fear,” she recalls. A nonprofit that provides basic necessities, North Gwinnett Co-op delivered food and medication to the doorsteps of their clients so older residents didn’t have to leave their homes.


Jackson County School System / Jefferson$2,800 for WiFi.

When schools closed in March, education suddenly shifted from in-classroom to online learning, a move that threatened to leave behind students without internet access. Jackson EMC Foundation emergency grants enabled four school systems—Commerce, Jefferson, Jackson County and Madison County—to provide internet service via hot spot Wi-Fi systems placed in school buses that were parked in neighborhoods where students needed it the most.


Lumpkin County Family Connection / Dahlonega: $5,000 for food.

Lumpkin County Family Connection typically feeds 40 families a week,but that number shot up to 120 families a week after after the pandemic began, said Executive Director Brigette Barker. “When schools closed,we started to panic because the number of requests tripled,” she said.“We were telling people ‘We’ll feed you,’ but we didn’t know how we were going to do that.” The Jackson EMC Foundation provided the way, according to Barker.

For more, see the Jackson EMC Foundation Annual Report at jacksonemc.com/foundation.