(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) To heal from COVID-19's financial wounds, InterServ is asking for an $81,000 slice of St. Joseph's CARES Act funding.
During a Zoom work session Monday night, city staff announced their plan to spend $535,000 of CARES Act funding on local agencies and the families they serve. 10 area agencies have put their name in for the money and InterServ is in the top two agencies asking for the most funds, right behind Community Action Partnership.
“This is just another funding source that we can use to help impacted residences overcome an obstacle that’s no fault of their own,” said Clint Thompson, St. Joseph Director of Planning & Development.
For St. Joseph residents, InterServ is an agency that did it all-offered meals, tax help, youth programs, etc., but then COVID-19 hit.
“We had to rethink all of that. We went from an afterschool program to Camp COVID during spring break, to permanent Camp COVID to a summer program. Now, we’re running a one-room schoolhouse where we’ve had kids from kindergarten up through sophomores in high school,” said Randy Sharp, Interserv Director.
A big challenge for InterServ has been virtual learning. The agency helps kids with their online classes, but they want to do more. InterServ isn't looking for additional Chromebooks or computers, but the biggest tool- staff.
“Virtual school is a little difficult to navigate. There’s multiple websites, multiple platforms, you gotta scan in, sign in and you gotta do assignments. It’s not just something where you sit someone down in front of the computer and say, ‘Okay Junior, I’ll check back in with you in a couple hours and see how you’re doing,’” said Sharp.
That one-on-one help is going to cost $50,000. The agency said a 21st century grant is paying for kids from two schools for the virtual learning assistance, Hosea and Spring Garden. The large chunk of the CARES funds will pay for kids not covered by that grant.
The remaining $31,000 will go towards additional meal delivery- a program soaring during the pandemic.
“We have doctors and other medical places calling us saying, ‘Hey, we have a person that’s recovering from COVID. They could use meals for a month or so as they recover.’ We don’t have funding from our normal sources for that,” said Sharp.
InterServ is trying to serve as many people as they can, but it comes with a price and they're just hoping the federal funds will cover the check.
“It’s critically important to make sure that we can operate and get through the pandemic serving as many people as possible,” said Sharp.
CAP is the agency receiving the highest amount of federal funds from the city. St. Joseph has partnered with CAP to administer $369,490 for homeless prevention, rent and utility assistance.
The 10 agencies total requested amount from the city is $166,000- excluding CAP.