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COVID-19 Financial Aid Fund

| Holly Johnson |

JFCS of the Suncoast announces $250,000 COVID-19 financial aid fund to help people in need pay their bills

A recent $250,000 donation from the Flanzer Philanthropic Trust to JFCS of the Suncoast has created a special COVID-19 Emergency Needs Fund designed to help Sarasota and Manatee County residents in need of helping to pay their bills.

The fund is available to individuals and families who can document a COVID-19 need and meet qualification criteria. The fund is designed to provide emergency financial support for essential human needs. These include shelter, food, utilities, prescription medicine, and car payments. Qualified fund recipients will not receive cash; JFCS will pay the vendor or landlord directly and offer gift cards for food.

“The health considerations, hardships, and economic distress associated with COVID-19 have begun to impact Sarasota-Manatee counties and throughout Florida,” said Heidi Brown, JFCS CEO. “Over the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases in our area have begun to spike and so have requests for assistance. The stories are heartbreaking. At JFCS we feel a responsibility to help those in dire need and will do all we can to help. We are beyond grateful to the Flanzer Trust for their support that allows us to launch this Fund immediately,” Brown stated.

“We also appreciate our role as a community partner, and will work closely with community and private foundations, United Way, and others to support their initiatives,” Brown added.

Philanthropy is funding 100 percent of this program. JFCS will prioritize current JFCS clients and those who qualify as clients in Sarasota and Manatee counties for assistance. JFCS hopes the generosity of donors will allow more expansive community support. They are accepting applications for support immediately.

Plea for support

“We are pleased to support JFCS’ efforts to provide direct assistance to those experiencing COVID-19 hardship through no fault of their own,” said Eric Kaplan and Dr.Dean Hautamaki, Flanzer Trust co-trustees. “Throughout their lifetimes, Lou and Gloria Flanzer cared deeply about JFCS’ mission and important role in our community. We are honored to carry on their commitment. We hope that our gift encourages others in the community to quickly join JFCS as they seek to make an impact during this unprecedented time,” they added.

As the Suncoast’s leading non-denominational human services and mental health agency, JFCS of the Suncoast provides over 25 programs and services in six counties to help those in need. This includes veterans, seniors, families, children, and those experiencing or near homelessness become self-sufficient, recover, and thrive.

How to apply to COVID-19 Financial Aid Fund

To apply for hardship funds, individuals should call (941) 366-2224 and ask to speak with an Intake Specialist. For more information about the Fund, JFCS’s programs, services, outcomes and impact, or how to make a donation or contribution, contact Karen Zelden, JFCS chief development officer, at (941) 366-2224 x142 or For more information about JFCS and the services it provides, visit their website here.

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