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When the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico (CFSNM)decided to close our office one Friday afternoon in March and work from home, we weren’t sure what to expect. Like so many in our community, there was a looming sense of the unknown regarding COVID-19 at the time. We discussed a plan to push us through weeks of remote work, and we said our goodbyes. By Monday, it was evident that “working from home” also meant our team would take on a new challenge during an unprecedented time of state mandates and social distancing: crisis response.
In recent months, the CFSNM’s mission to serve, connect and support our community has held a new meaning, as our foundation housed five emergency funds in response to the COVID-19 health pandemic. While some of the funds granted in a traditional manner to nonprofit organizations in our region, the CFSNM was able to support individuals and small businesses as well, through emergency funds Together Las Cruces, Governor Richardson, Olmos, Trejo, Lopez Emergency Fund for the Southern Colonias of Doña Ana County, and Thank You Las Cruces Restaurants. Together Las Cruces was launched in late March to support qualifying Doña Ana county residents who were laid off or furloughed or experienced a significant loss of income as a result of state social-distancing orders. Through the generosity of local philanthropists, the City of Las Cruces, and the WK Kellogg Foundation, more than $425,000 was raised for the fund, allowing more than 1,500 applicants to receive a hardship grant. As restaurants were able to open for carry out options, Thank You Las Cruces Restaurants supported locally owned restaurants to provide more than 1,000 meals for families in need, healthcare workers and Las Cruces residents.
“As an organization, we feel grateful that the community trusted us to support families, businesses and nonprofits in our region during a time of crisis,” said Terra V. Winter, president and CEO of the CFSNM. “We are moved by the generosity of our friends and neighbors who wish to help those impacted, and we understand that even though social-distancing orders are changing and businesses are reopening, there is still a continued need for support in southern New Mexico. Our work is only just beginning.”
The CFSNM plans to continue its emergency response funding through the Southern Colonias Fund, All Together NM and the Nonprofit Emergency Fund. All Together NM is a state-wide relief fund launched by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations to help New Mexico respond to and eventually recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applications are pen for organizations requesting assistance through All Together NM. Additionally, together with the United Way of Southwest New Mexico, the CFSNM launched its Nonprofit Emergency Fund in March to assist nonprofits in time of great need due to a community need, natural disaster and/or response to overwhelming loss of operational revenues. During the first grant cycle, more than $102,000 was granted to 29 organizations from across the region. The CFSNM hopes to continue growing the Nonprofit Emergency Fund, and open applications again in the fall for regional organizations that need continued support.
“We will continue to work within our communities and be a resource for organizations when they need it most,” Winter said. “Nonprofit organizations play an imperative role in the communities they serve, and many rely heavily on support from donors and volunteers to sustain their daily operations. During this time, we encourage all who are able to keep supporting the organizations that are doing important work to improve lives in southern New Mexico.”
To learn more or donate to the CFSNM nonprofit emergency fund or Southern Colonias Fund, visit www.cfsnm.org. For information or to apply for assistance through All Together NM, visit www.alltogethernm.org.