CONGREGATION CONNECTIONS RESOURCES
Updated May 28, 2020
Congregation Connections links social services and faith groups, working to strengthen communities throughout Kent County by supporting ministry and outreach teams. We collaborate with over 200 congregations across 17 denominations, offering training and casework services. To learn more visit our website.
United Way 211: if anyone is need of services call 211 first. They are a central hub, tracking what programs and organizations have available during this time. You can also visit the United Way’s webpage for more information on COVID-19 updates, including how to get help and how to give help. You can view 211 flyers here: version 1 and version 2.
The Essential Needs Task Force of Kent County has been tracking needs and program updates across the county. We recommend your church subscribing to these updates that are filled with helpful information and local resources. You can subscribe to their email updates here.
Access Food Pantry Network: Visit our Pantry Network page and find a list of services and resources being offered through Pantry Resource Centers in Kent County. Details are available in English and Spanish.
Kent County Community Action TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) distributions: See flyer for dates and locations for food distributions across the county.
Temporary Food Assistance (Bridge Card): Temporary food assistance is available for eligible low-income families and individuals. Use MI Bridges to apply for assistance, check your eligibility status, and manage your account online. Also, similarly to March and April, households receiving SNAP benefits in Michigan that are not currently receiving the maximum amount allowed per household size, will receive an additional amount to raise benefits to the maximum for May. May additional benefits will be loaded on Bridge Cards between May 26th – May 31st. Here is a flyer with information.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program: Provides temporary funding to address emergency food needs and avert financial hardship for families affected by the pandemic. The food assistance benefits will go to Michigan families with students ages 5-18 who are enrolled in the Michigan Department of Education program for students eligible for free or reduced price school meals. This includes families currently receiving food assistance program benefits as well as those not. The food assistance benefits will go to Michigan families with students ages 5-18 who are enrolled in the Michigan Department of Education program for students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and will reach approximately 895,000 students. This includes families currently receiving Food Assistance Program benefits as well as those not currently enrolled in the program. Eligible families not currently receiving food assistance benefits will receive in the mail a pre-loaded Electronic Benefits Transaction (EBT) card – known as a Bridge Card – issued under the name of the oldest student in the household. The amount of EBT benefits will be no less than the total amount of free or reduced-cost school lunch benefits that the family would have received during the time that school is closed. The benefits will include $193.80 per eligible student to cover the months of March and April and an additional $182.40 per student to cover May and June combined. To read more visit MDHHS or view this flyer.
Grab and Go Meal Sites: for a full list of Kent County meal sites see the United Way’s list.
Revive & Thrive Meal Delivery: Revive and Thrive & Kitchen Sage have teamed up to respond to the need to provide free, home delivered meals for the medically vulnerable residents in the Greater Grand Rapids area who are most at risk during the current pandemic. They are able to provide 12 weeks of service (at least 6 meals/week plus dessert) to the following people in the Greater Grand Rapids area who are residents of Kent County:
-People with acute or chronic health challenges that are high risk for COVID-19 who are low income and do have a caregiver or family member to provide consistent health meals. We do provide meals to a family member or caregiver in the home.
-People who have been diagnosed with cancer and who lack financial and family support to provide meals.
Please note at this time we are unable to accept people with serious food allergies or special dietary needs. For more information. please visit www.reviveandthriveproject.org. Contact Wendy@reviveandthriveproject.org or call 616-581-4103.
Delivered Food Baskets: Operation Fred – The Peter Meijer for Congress campaign is shifting energy from political activities to serving others by delivering care packages to individuals who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 (and cannot leave their homes) in Western Michigan. Packages will include canned goods, dry goods and hygiene products.
Farmers Market: many of farmers markets are beginning to open for the season, please share and support these farmers as they continue to serve the community with fresh produce + food products while also continuing to support our local farms and local food system!
- Fulton Street Farmers Market: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 8am-2pm
- Rockford Farmers Market: Saturday, 8am-1pm
- Metro Health Farmers Market: Thursdays, 9am-2pm
- Cesar Chavez Farmers Market will be open on Friday, June 5, 3:30-7:00pm.
Double Up Food Bucks: can be used at participating farmers markets to double the amount of Michigan grown produce purchased using an EBT card. Please share these flyers (English version and Spanish version)!
Fresh Markets & Farm Stands Open:
- North Kent Connect: available in their parking lot from 10am to noon every Tuesday. Learn more here!
- The Other Way Ministries: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 to 4, and the 1st and 3rd Saturday from 10 to 2. Learn more here.
- The Green Apple: Market open when the Pantry is open, Wednesday & Thursday 9am to 3pm. The Green Apple Website.
Local Plant Sales:
- New City Farm Plant Sale: May 30, 9am-12pm, learn more here.
- HOPE Gardens Plant Sale: they are not taking orders for heirloom plants, learn more here.
- Urban Roots/Well House Plant Sale: Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30, 10:00am-1:00pm, learn more here.
For great information on how to access federal stimulus checks, visit the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions page.
- Stimulus Payment Fact Sheet
- Stimulus Payment Fact Sheet – Arabic
- Stimulus Payment Fact Sheet – Spanish
- Stimulus FAQs – Spanish
Kent County Relief Fund: We are partnering with local nonprofits and the Kent County Relief Fund to provide $500 in emergency cash relief to eligible individuals in Kent County, Michigan, who have experienced job loss or reduced hours of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. If you are suffering financial hardship because of COVID-19, you could be eligible for immediate cash relief. Visit kentcountyrelieffund.com to learn more.
YWCA & Safe Haven: Safe Haven and the YWCA are available to help survivors of domestic violence during this time. For emergency shelter, CDC health guidelines are in place to protect residents and staff. Help is also available to help survivors of domestic violence during this time. Help is also available for victims who are high-risk, immunocompromised, or have tested positive. Other services (safety planning, counseling, support groups, legal assistance & more) are available by video and phone. Please help spread the word and share this flyer widely.
HOUSING AND UTILITIES
- From Consumer’s Energy: We are ensuring our most vulnerable customers have the services they need during this state of emergency by suspending shutoffs for non-pay for low-income and senior customers beginning March 16, 2020 through June 1, 2020 (timeframes could be adjusted depending on the spread and severity of the virus). Senior citizens and qualified low-income customers already enrolled in our Winter Protection Program have already had their end dates extended through June 1, 2020, without any additional actions required on their part. We encourage all customers who need help paying their energy bill to call us at 1-800-477-5050 to discuss their options.
- From DTE: In the face of this public health crisis, we are on high alert to help those customers whose lives are being disrupted. We have suspended non-payment shutoffs for customers meeting income criteria, effective until June 1, 2020. This timing could be extended depending on the impact the virus has on our communities. Shutoff protection for customers enrolled in our Senior Winter Protection Program has been extended through June 1, 2020 without additional actions required on their part. Customers of record who are 62 and older are automatically included in the Winter Protection Program. Understanding this is an extraordinary time, our customer representatives are available to help. Contact us at 1-800-477-4747. Here is a flyer with detailed information.
Evictions suspended statewide through June 11th: Governor Whitmer signed an Executive Order that temporarily suspends evictions through the State of Michigan through June 11, 2020. You can read more about it here. Legal Aid of West Michigan has also produced this really helpful summary! If you hear reports of tenants being locked out or evicted in violation of these orders, please have them call Legal Aid. While staff are not physically in the office, they are taking phone calls and can get tenants quickly connected to legal assistance. More information available here.
Foreclosure Assistance: The MiMortage Relief Partnership announced on April 23. Under this partnership, participating financial institutions have agreed that they will continue to work with their impacted residential mortgage loan borrowers. Visit this website for what types of relief they are providing and a list of financial institutions participating.
The Rapid to Implemented a New Summer Service Schedule May 26: All routes (except Route 19- Michigan Crosstown) are back in service on weekdays from 6:00am until 10:00pm., and the normal weekend schedule will be in effect. Visit their website for details: https://www.ridetherapid.org/
Suspension of all Medicaid Closures: As a result of the federal emergency health declaration, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is suspending program coverage closures for all Medicaid programs beginning March 18, 2020 and through the month of April 2020 or until the first of the month following the termination of the Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency Order, whichever is later. Medicaid coverage will only be closed if the individual moves out of state, requests their benefits close, or they become deceased. You can find the bulletin with this update here.
Kent County Resources: View this flyer for information.
Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990- this 24/7 service is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and provides crisis counseling for people going through both natural and human-caused disasters. It’s free, multi-lingual and confidential. You can also text TalkWithUs to 66746.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: If you are feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Salvation Army Emotional Support Hotline: Salvation Army has established a hotline call-in center to provide emotional and spiritual support. The hotline can be reached at 616-742-9199 and is open from 9am to 9pm seven days a week.
Stay Home, Stay Mindful Website: Governor Whitmer and Headspace launch this new website to offer free mental health resources. The website offers meditation and mindfulness content curated for Michiganders at no cost. Check it out here: https://www.headspace.com/mi
BE AWARE OF SCAMS & CYBERCRIME
Be aware of scams: There are reports of scams related to COVID-19 taking place across the state. Scams including asking for medicaid/medicare information, online scams selling bogus products and providing false information on tests and treatments, and a door to door scam where people are posing as the Red Cross offering testing. We have also heard of scams related to stimulus checks, with people falsely requesting banking or Paypal information. Click the links to learn more about those scams and how to report, and be mindful overall and share with those vulnerable in your community. More scams are surfacing every week, so be on the look out!
FraudSupport Program: Did you know that 2-1-1 in West Michigan partnered with the Cybercrime Support Network? Using the National Cybercrime Victim Resource Database, 211 makes sure that victims of cybercrime have the resources they need while guiding them through the process of reporting, recovering, and reinforcing their security. Please share this flyer with your neighbors.
BUSINESS AND UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE
Unemployment Benefits Expanded: The State Unemployment Office will extend benefits to workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of family members who are ill. First responders in the public health community who became ill or quarantined due to exposure are also eligible. Self-employed workers and independent contractors who don’t have access to unemployment insurance will now have access to benefits. Click here to fill out the application online or call 1-866-500-0017.
- Job Aids and Videos for Clients and Community Partners: You (and your clients) can find helpful job aids and how-to videos on our MI Bridges Community Partners Tools & Resources page. They include registering a new client account, applying for benefits, managing my case, and helping to find resources.
- Nonprofit Resources for Remote Work During the COVID-19 Outbreak: Here is some helpful information regarding working remotely. https://bit.ly/2QoArd5
Women’s Resource Center is open to helping anyone who need support as they look for work and try to connect with services. They are doing coaching, resume and interview prep over the phone or Zoom calls to keep people moving forward. Community members should call their offices (616) 458-5443 and leave a message.
Internet Access for low-income families who qualify:
- 2 months of free internet from Comcast
- 2 months of free internet from AT&T
- Spectrum Charter Internet Assist
CDC Resources for Community and Faith-Based Leaders: Check out the CDC’s detailed website offering guidance and resources for community and faith based leaders. For overall information from the CDC, visit here.
State/Local COVID-19 Updates: for additional reliable information on the spread of COVID-19 we recommend following:
- The Kent County Health Department
- Michigan Safe Start Map: this new, online dashboard visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan, providing residents with important information about the pandemic status where they live and work. The COVID-19 data displayed on the dashboard represents publicly available case, death and test data analyzed to determine overall level of risk and key trends. Graphs, numbers and trends provide a snapshot of how much virus is in a community, and whether it is increasing or decreasing. To view the map and dashboard, visit MiStartMap.info.
- City of Grand Rapids Coronavirus Updates and City Activity and Events updates.
If you have additional resources that we should be aware of, email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.Saf