The Restore Hope Fund
United Way of Greater Chattanooga has designed and launched a new Restore Hope Fund to support our neighbors experiencing wage loss or other adverse circumstances as a result of the local COVID-19 crisis. When you donate to this fund, your dollars directly impact your neighbors in need. Here’s how it works:
United Way of Greater Chattanooga has partnered with a number of community-based nonprofits that are providing immediate, on-the-ground assistance. These organizations have a successful history of supporting our community and are equipped to rise to the challenges of this pandemic.
Individuals approach these organizations for assistance with things like rent, utility payments, and other areas of financial strain. The Restore Hope Fund partners listen to the needs of these individuals and both connect them with available resources and meet direct needs on a case-by-case basis.
In short, every dollar donated to the Restore Hope Fund is going right back to serve households in our community in the form of individual crisis assistance. We’re all feeling the strain of these circumstances, and the Restore Hope Fund is a tangible way to directly lend a helping hand to your neighbor.
Stories of Hope
Restore Hope donors are making a direct impact on the lives of their neighbors from all over Greater Chattanooga. As Restore Hope funding requests are processed through our nonprofit agency partners, we are gathering the individual stories and sharing them here on a regular basis. Keep reading to hear how Chattanoogans are supporting each other through this crisis.
Even as our city begins to carefully restart its engines, the COVID financial crisis continues. This week, The Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga worked with a local man who lives alone and supports himself working as a veterinarian. In addition to his position at the Vet, he works a second job to supplement his income. But when COVID-19 hit our city and the economy began to shut down, he temporarily lost both of those jobs. Faced with the sudden disappearance of his income, he was worried about paying his rent and making his car payment on time. The Jewish Federation connected him with the Restore Hope Fund, and because of generous donors, both of those bills have been paid -- keeping him afloat until he can return to work.
As we’ve mentioned before, a high percentage of individuals seeking financial COVID-19 relief from the Restore Hope Fund are single-parent females. One of our partners recently heard from a mother who supports her two children at home -- one of whom is deaf and receives special education. When COVID-19 reached Chattanooga and she experienced a loss of income, she could no longer pay her current internet bill, let alone the past-due bill she’d had to avoid. The household’s access to the internet was cut off, meaning her children could no longer continue their education virtually. Lucilky, Hixson Middle School referred her to Northside Neighborhood House. Because of our community’s support of the Restore Hope Fund, both bills have been paid and the family’s internet access has been restored. Her two children are once again able to get the continued educational care they need during this time of isolation.
Week Four - Amalia’s Story, by Matt Pulford
Amalia lost her job due to COVID-19.
More than 20-years at the same place, climbing the ladder, all gone in less than a month.
“This pandemic has affected my family and me,” she said plainly. “The hotel was my only source of income. I was furloughed and lost insurance.”
Amalia takes care of her grandchild. And while many others were stocking up on toilet paper, she was busy stretching her last paycheck to keep a roof over her grandson’s head and the light’s on.
She didn’t know where to go. She didn’t know what to do.
Thankfully, someone from the Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga recommended she look into the Restore Hope Fund.
“This lady at the Club shared about the program, and she said it was for people who had been on the job a long time but hit hard times,” Amalia said. “They know the struggle. They came through and helped us out, and I really appreciate what they did for my family.”
Amalia asked the BGC to connect her with the Restore Hope Fund, and soon after, Amalia was able to pay rent and her utilities on time and in advance.
“More people need to reach out for help,” Amalia said. “A lot of people don’t really know about [all the resources out there]. I didn’t really. But there is help.”
As you may have noticed, the Restore Hope Fund has received numerous requests from single parents, and this week was no exception. One of our nonprofit partners, The Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga, recently heard from a single mother taking care of a child at home. When COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, she lost her job as a driver for the public school system until schools reopen in the fall. Thanks to Restore Hope donors, The Boys and Girls Club was able to cover her rent and utilities bill -- helping her to maintain a safe and healthy home for her child until she can begin working again.
Another one of our Restore Hope partners worked with a woman who owns her own furniture business, which she operates out of her home. Because of the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, she experienced an extreme loss of business - no one is focused on refurbishing or purchasing furniture under the current circumstances. With a decrease in her income, she worried she wouldn’t be able to meet the needs of the four others in her household, let alone keep her independent business operational. She reached out to Rockbridge Community Church for help, and because of the Restore Hope Fund, she received money to cover a variety of utility payments - including her internet bill, which is essential in helping her sustain the business she worked so hard to build.
Restore Hope funding requests continued to pour in this week as the COVID-19 crisis continued, compounded by the storm damage in our area. This week, The Bethlehem Center worked with another single-parent - a mother of three children, all of them living at home. As a non-essential employee of Hamilton County Schools, she was temporarily laid off until public schools repon (which will not happen during the remainder of this school year). Because of the growing number of donations made to the Restore Hope Fund, The Bethlehem Center was able to assist this family with their rent payment, helping them bridge the gap between this moment of crisis and the day schools reopen their doors.
Another one of our Restore Hope agency partners, The Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga, met several requests for help this week. One of them came from a local father who has two young children and a spouse at home. He had been laid off from his job in the auto industry earlier in March due to COVID-19 and was struggling to meet his family’s needs in April. Restore Hope donors were able to help this family pay their rent and sewer bills, giving them time to avoid an acute crisis situation until the father can resume working.
This week, the Bethlehem Center heard from a woman who lives alone and supports herself, working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Due to the local COVID-19 crisis, she lost not only one, but both of her jobs in the hospitality industry. Like so many others, she was worried she would not be able to cover her rent. She reached out to The Bethlehem Center, a Restore Hope Partner, and because of Restore Hope donors, They were able to provide her with financial assistance for her rent payment, as well as connect her with other crucial resources. This assistance is critical in helping her to maintain stability while she and our community fight to get back on track.
The Bethlehem Center also received a request from a single-parent mother of two children. She often feels the strain of trying to make ends meet - her normal routine includes working two separate jobs to support her family. When the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to Chattanooga, she lost one of those two jobs. With her income cut in half, she worried that she would not be able to meet her household’s basic needs. Once again, The Bethlehem Center was able to assist the family in paying their rent and electric bill from donations to the Restore Hope Fund. Because of Restore Hope donors, the family now has the flexibility they need to weather the current crisis without having to face stressful decisions between paying bills or putting food on the table.
The last story we’d like to share this week comes from another single mother. She and her family were victims of a household fire just days before the COVID-19 crisis hit Greater Chattanooga. Unfortunately, the fire took the family’s home, as well as one of the children’s lives, devastating the family and leaving them without shelter. They were able to find temporary housing, but were still hurting financially. The mother’s intent was to open a personal business in the spa & salon industry, but when non-essential businesses were closed, this became impossible. Her only employed child lost their job at this time as well. Reeling from tragedy, the family reached out to a Restore Hope partner - The Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga - for help. Through the Fund, the family was able to receive financial assistance for their water and electric bills - providing much-need breathing room and stability as they grieve and process this trauma. United Way of Greater Chattanooga is honored that Restore Hope donors are playing a small, but vital part in their journey toward healing.
While we are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of community and individual support we have witnessed so far, we do anticipate that these crisis-driven needs will increase in the coming weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. We know that everyone is feeling financial strain right now. Still, we humbly ask for your help. There are a couple things you can do to help us restore hope for our community:
Spread the word. We want to share hope and make as many of these stories possible as we can - so the more Greater Chattanoogans know about the Restore Hope Fund, the better.
Donate. Every dollar contributed makes a direct and tangible difference in a human life. You can donate online or by texting RestoreHope to 40403.