By Catherine Twing, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Westborough, like virtually every community in the commonwealth, has an increased number of residents in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To respond to these diverse needs, Westborough put together a task force to determine the best way to help. After weeks of planning, this group has established the Westborough COVID-19 Community Fund.
The fund’s mission is to support residents in Westborough who are disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
Shelby Marshall, Westborough selectman and active member of the task force, explained that the fund is intended to address the needs of today, but also be flexible to address future, unknown needs.
“We have heard of food insecurity and folks who were struggling. We fully anticipate that those needs will continue to grow and change as the economy starts to open up but isn’t fully there,” she said. “The fund will be a way of coming together to help and address the immediate needs and also address needs we can’t even anticipate.”
The task force is comprised of representatives from the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager’s Office, the Westborough Food Pantry, the Westborough Fire Department/Emergency Management, Westborough Connects, Westborough Interfaith Clergy, the Rotary Club of Westborough, Westborough Cares, the Westborough Senior Center, In Your Shoes, St. Luke’s Church Outreach and the Forbes-Kirkside Foundation.
Organizations such as In Your Shoes Westborough and St. Luke’s Church Outreach are members of Westborough Cares, a collection of community service organizations which work together to coordinate resources for those in need. They will take stock of needs in town and then request support from the community fund to help fill those needs.
“We want to help anyone who is in need, help with utilities, gift cards for gas, gift cards for food,” said Terry Galvin, co-founder and president of In Your Shoes Westborough. “[Residents] fill out a grant application. Does it match the mission? If it does we pass it along.”
The application is then reviewed by members of the task force and funds are distributed to the community service organizations to provide the assistance.
Marshall explained the intent is for all requests to come through community organizations first, to ensure needs are being met, but not duplicated.
If someone in the community has a need, they are asked to contact one of the community service organizations or call the town’s community resource line at 508-871-5111. They will then be directed to the appropriate organization where they can apply for assistance.
To ensure donations are being properly managed, the fund is being hosted by the charitable arm of the Westborough Rotary Club.
“They were looking for an organization that could handle the finances for them, looking for an outside organization to handle that,” said Westborough Rotary Club President Elliott Rittenberg.”
The account is specifically for this fund and housed at Central One Federal Credit Union in Westborough.
“The work being done by the task force and the creation of this fund is indicative of the incredible community we have,” Marshall said. “We show that time and time again we come together to support each other.”
To donate, visit https://bit.ly/WBCovidFund. Donations can also be made by check payable to “Westborough Rotary Fund, Inc.” with “COVID-19” in the memo line and mailed to Westborough Rotary Fund, c/o Central One Federal Credit Union, 40 South St., Westborough, MA 01581.