On July 22, 2020

Woodstock raises half a million dollars to help neighbors in need

The Woodstock Area Relief Fund (WARF) has raised half a million dollars from almost 500 donors. Donations have ranged from $1 to $50,000 — almost 40% of the donors are second-home owners.

Relief grants totaling more than $310,000 have already been provided to 496 local residents—adults and children from Barnard, Bridgewater, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Reading, and Woodstock. That assistance is used primarily to help with rent, mortgage, food, and utilities expenses.

“The feedback we’ve received from recipients has been overwhelming,” wrote Jon Spector, a WARF organizer.

One recipient said, “Thank you so much. I started off this pandemic being super grateful that I was going to be largely unaffected, but this has gone on way longer than I thought even the worst-case scenarios would be. I’m so, so grateful for all of your help—I’ve never had to ask for any kind of assistance before, and I’m deeply moved by the generosity of the community.”

Applicants discuss their needs with caseworkers, who connect them with other state and local aid in addition to directly providing requested funds. Many of the applicants have never needed to ask for help before, and the experienced caseworkers are able to help them navigate the system with dignity, respect, and confidentiality.

The fund also still has enough to continue to help those in need through August and possibly into September. While about 10% of applicants have gone back to full-time employment and others have returned to work but with reduced hours, some have no immediate prospect of returning to work, according to Spector.

It’s unclear what additional challenges lie ahead, but organizers anticipate a dramatic change in circumstance at the end of July when the federal weekly $600 supplement expires. Parents may also experience hardship in August as they either prepare children to return to school or navigate other childcare needs.

“Thank you, Woodstock and friends for your donations. And thanks to all the volunteers who stepped in to help with fundraising, operations, communications, and case work. It has been a remarkable experience for all the volunteers to be involved in such an important effort,” Spector concluded.

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