‘Help Holyoke’ to assist businesses, employees
When a tornado, fire or blizzard hits to ravage a community, it’s devastating. However, in such incidents, immediate help, such as Red Cross, is available for physical disasters.
When a pandemic the likes of the coronavirus hits, there are no immediate resources for economic help.
We’ve found ourselves in uncharted territory as closures and social distancing mandates escalate.
Every single person and business is affected in some way. From the get-go, numerous individuals and businesses have shown extreme generosity in creative ways to assist those who have been hit the hardest from a financial standpoint.
That’s what a community does, and Holyoke is a strong one.
How can someone help?
A structured “Help Holyoke” fund has been set up this week as a way to provide some financial relief to businesses that have been mandated to close. As part of the fund program, individual employees from these businesses will benefit as well.
Targeted strictly as a gift program, “Help Holyoke” has been organized so there are no tax ramifications for either the giver or the receiver. It’s simply a gift.
Gift checks can be made to “Help Holyoke.” They can be mailed to First Pioneer National Bank, P.O. Box 27, Holyoke, CO 80734, placed in the bank’s night drop, or given at the drive-through service at 150 S. Interocean Ave. in Holyoke.
The intent is to provide a way for residents who haven’t been hit as hard or whose businesses haven’t suffered as severely to contribute to those less fortunate.
Those still receiving paychecks might want to think about the hardships placed on fellow community members who have suddenly found themselves out of work.
Anticipating a cash payment from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, one might consider whether a portion might be gifted to the residents who have lost their jobs or had their income slashed as a result of mandated closures.
How will this work?
A structured distribution plan is in place.
A list of highly impacted local businesses has been made, including those that have been mandated to close — restaurants, bars, hair and nail salons, gyms and theaters.
If this funding program grows enough to warrant it, there’s a possibility it could expand to include secondary businesses that have suffered loss.
To get the program off the ground, high-impact businesses have been contacted and identified in terms of their number of full-time and part-time employees.
Half of the donated funds will be paid to the employers on a percentage basis. These percentages will be based on number of employees.
The second half of the donated funds will be distributed as personal checks to the employees themselves. Each full-time employee will receive the same amount, and part-time employees will each receive half that amount.
If a business owner or an employee feels he/she hasn’t been impacted as greatly as others, their gift can be regifted to someone they feel is more deserving of the money.
To make this impactful, the baseline goal of the “Help Holyoke” project is $200,000. The ultimate goal is as high as it can soar to assist community members and businesses in need.
Who is behind this project?
“Help Holyoke” is the brainchild of Tom Bennett, president of First Pioneer National Bank in Holyoke. He quickly put together a committee including Holyoke Chamber of Commerce director Holly Ferguson, Phillips County Economic Development executive director Trisha Herman and Holyoke Enterprise publisher Brenda Brandt.
Using the guidelines established, payments will be made to employers and employees through the “Help Holyoke” fund.
It is hoped that these funds can be distributed sometime in May.
Idea extends to Haxtun
Through Herman’s involvement with PCED, she has been tasked by Phillips County Emergency Manager Bob Heldenbrand to put together an Emergency Support Function group.
She presented the “Help Holyoke” concept to a group in Haxtun, and they will be coordinating a similar gifting process through Points West Community Bank.
While the structure may be a little different, the purpose is exactly the same — helping our communities.
The core committee for the Haxtun project will be Eastern Colorado Community Fund director John Chapdelaine, Herman, Points West Community Bank vice president Ross Edwards, and Haxtun Chamber of Commerce director Jenn Oberle.
For more information on the Haxtun project, contact Oberle at 970-467-0194.
“Help Holyoke” will be promoted through the local newspapers, radio station and social media messages to help make community members aware.
Additionally, in Holyoke, the advisers for FCCLA, FBLA and FFA chapters have agreed to have chapter members volunteer their time for a calling campaign in the community.
For further information on “Help Holyoke,” contact Ferguson at 970-854-3517, Bennett at 970-520-4027 or Brandt at 970-466-3150.