Jackson House has been awarded a $10,000 emergency community support grant from First Arkansas Insurance through Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance, designed to help independent agents give back to their local community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Jackson House, a nonprofit organization and interfaith community crisis center that provides short-term emergency assistance for basic needs including food, clothing and shelter, was nominated by Nick Dodd of First Arkansas.
The grant will "exponentially increase their food supply for both their daily lunch program and to restock their pantry which includes baby food and formula for families and individuals in need," a news release said.
"My team and I have recognized the hard work and dedication performed by The Jackson House during this pandemic and we are incredibly thankful for Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance for stepping up to the plate and providing extra funds to help the community when we need it most," Dodd said in the release.
"The Jackson House has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and the $10,000 donation will help them continue to make a difference to the community they serve," he said.
The grant will also go toward maintenance on Jackson House, located at 705 Malvern Ave., which was built in 1880 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings.
The goal of the grants "is to help our independent agents make an immediate impact during this critical time in the local communities where we live and work," Alexis Holzer, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance Independent Agent Giving Program manager, said in the release.
Janie Smith, director of Jackson House, told The Sentinel-Record Friday they plan to use half or more of the grant money for food "as our food donations are down from both restaurants and regular folks and food will always be our top priority."
She said she has had to do "some retrofitting" to make their facility "COVID safe" so some of the money will go toward that project, as well.
"We have been operating with phone interviews for services, mainly groceries, but are working on the interview room as we speak," Smith said. "We will shift from walk-in services to working with appointments excepting emergencies."
She noted they also received a grant from the Arkansas Community Foundation to rework their website from "a self uploading link to a secure program for files and a self-use appointment scheduling program to help people make the appointments to fit their schedules."
Smith said they also received a small grant from the Arkansas Hunger Alliance to help expand their storage ability, noting, "I am rocking the grant thing! I've been working from home a lot."
She said they are currently serving 30- to 34,000 people, having added an additional 4,000 due to the COVID-19 crisis. "Our projections so far are that we expect 40% more food requests this year" and anticipate a "surge from families with school being out officially and the meal deliveries ceasing."
Smith said out of over 50 local pantries, Jackson House is the only one to remain open all weekdays. They are open 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and serve lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"We stood strong through this mess and we didn't cut back hours until exhaustion took over a couple of weeks ago, but that was when we slowed down after the stimulus (checks)," she said, noting, they remained open five days a week for all services.
Those wanting to donate or who need help can call Jackson House at 623-4048, or visit https://www.jacksonhouse.org/.
Local on 05/30/2020