Our Community Comes Together

RESPONDING TO CRISIS: Donate now to either our COVID-19 Response Fund or Fire Response Fund.

COVID-19 Response Fund

Sharing Stories

Acts of Generosity, Acts of Courage

Our community has given more than $7.9 million in COVID-19 relief to trusted nonprofit partners locally, regionally, and nationally including access to health services; access to food, housing assistance and connection to public benefits; support for seniors, people with compromised immune systems and serious illnesses, low-wage workers, undocumented families, and childcare for essential workers.

Stories of Hope and Action

"I am very impressed by how quickly the Community Foundation is disbursing funds and all you are doing to support our community during this crisis. We will get the funds you provided into the hands of our students immediately. This rapid response to our students' needs will go a long way in helping to reduce stress during this pandemic and keep students on their path to a better future through their studies at Cabrillo. Thank you!"

- Eileen Hill, Executive Director - Cabrillo College Foundation

"I am speechless with appreciation to the Foundation and the donors. This grant helps me pay my rent and shelter for all of my kids who are home from college and in high school. Our bills have exploded threefold with additional meals, supplies, and other necessities. I cannot thank you enough. Bless you for organizing this resource so quickly. This news is a miracle." - Anonymous, Cabrillo College student

"We serve mostly Oaxacan indigenous families who labor in the fields of Watsonville, many of whom are recent immigrants and extremely vulnerable. Despite their ongoing work as essential workers, they will not benefit from any of the government programs. Thanks to the grant from the Foundation’s COVID 19 Response Fund, we were able to help 20 hardworking families pay their rent in April. To see the relief and joy on their faces was a blessing. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

- Dr. Ann Lòpez, Executive Director - Center for Farmworker Families

"At the Community Action Board, we are usually able to connect about 150 day workers to jobs each day. Over the past week, we’ve only been able to place 4 - 5 workers to a job and those numbers will only decrease. The $15K gift through a donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation went directly to support those dayworkers, 100% of whom are undocumented and do not qualify for state or federal relief."

- Maria Elena De La Garza, Executive Director - Community Action Board

"We were able to support 35 families with over (135 household members) with $5,000K of the Community Foundation’s rapid response funding. This amount will help them for a month and provide a significant amount of support for them. As we head into April 1, we know rent is due and many more families are becoming unemployed. The need is great."

- Ray Cancino, CEO -Community Bridges

“Thank you, Community Foundation, for helping us purchase phones to help youth experiencing homelessness and transition age foster youth. This will help them meet their social, emotional, and mental health needs enabling access to case managers, counselors, friends, and family; helping them look for jobs; apply for unemployment; and continue with their college education. These youth so often feel overlooked and forgotten. This particular, very practical gift of support means a lot.”

- Meg Clark - Transitional Age Youth Program Manager, Encompass Community Services

"Thanks to funding for emergency assistance from the Community Foundation, we were able to help several undocumented families ineligible for stimulus money, cover expenses. One family had worked very hard to become self-sufficient but was on the verge of homelessness due to severe reduction in employment as a result of COVID-19. Thanks to the Foundation grant, two hard working parents and their four children remained housed during this difficult time."

"Anna is a single mom of 4 children. She's undocumented and recently her whole world turned upside down. Her husband left her and she and her children were staying at a shelter, her kids were getting established in their routine while Anna worked and searched for housing during her time off. Then the pandemic struck, Anna and her children tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to be taken to a motel. Anna's employment hours were reduced and she couldn't afford to pay her monthly cell phone bill. Without her phone she had no hope of securing permanent housing because she wasn't able to follow up with landlords. Through the generosity of the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County Anna was able to get her cell phone paid and purchase groceries for her family. The family has gotten a clean bill of health and are working with thier FIT case manager to connect to permanent housing."

- Melisa Vierra, Executive Director, Families in Transition

"During this crisis, we’ve had to figure out how to shift to remote counseling services for 10,000 youth and their families who were already living in poverty. This $20,000 grant means we can get the technology in place to serve families via telehealth so that we can continue to counsel them through these anxious times. We know there are many beautiful hearts in our community to thank for this generosity and support. PVPSA is humbled and honored to carry their spirit in our work. It is truly medicine for our souls!"

- Erica Padilla-Chavez, CEO - Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance

"We could not do what needs to be done in our community without the support of partners like Community Foundation Santa Cruz. Right now, needs are exponentially increasing and so are the expenses. The Foundation’s $30K grant will help us expand shelters for the unhoused and provide food to families in need in need. I am deeply moved to see the love and care you have shown by giving back to those in so much need. I am grateful for the trust you have placed in the Salvation Army to use these funds for the maximum benefit of our community."

- Captain Marcos Marquez, Santa Cruz County Coordinator and Corps Officer - Salvation Army Santa Cruz

"At Barrios Unidos we gather together for a blessing of gratitude for the food we receive and music to lift spirits. We are grateful for the support of Costco (10 years), Trader Joe’s (5 ½ years), Gail’s Bakery (5 ½ years) and most recently, Second Food Harvest Food Bank and Community Foundation Santa Cruz County. They assist us in providing our community with nutritious food to see them through another day, another week. 'Muchas gracias por toda la abrir!' (Thank you all very much for opening), one Mom says. She has four children to feed. No one goes hungry today. No mask can hide her deep gratitude – you see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice. 'Thank you!' echoes in Spanish and English throughout the line. COVID-19 is humbling. Without question, Santa Cruz has risen to the occasion providing a hand UP never a hand -out."

- Carol Saffen, Human Resource and Development Manager /MAA Health Coordinator - Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos

"Immigrant and low-income families have a different world view. The horizon, how far one can see, is about as far as tomorrow night. During this current crisis, the view is less than a day. 'Can we see the next meal? Can we stay another day? Can we pay the next bill?' And then add, 'Will we get sick?' It's important for people with security to hear this, to listen, to understand. Compassion, generosity, and action...these have to be the response. Thank you to the Community Foundation for helping lead the way." - Fe, Nereida, Curt and Carolyn - Senderos

"On March 19th I answered a call from a tearful single mom whose teenage children were no longer at school and sheltering at home. She was self-employed with a business that came to a screeching halt with the COVID-19 crisis. She had absolutely no propane in her tank and no money to get it filled, so they were living without any heat or hot water and probably no kitchen cooking appliances. She had never asked for help from anyone before and couldn’t believe she was in this sudden circumstance of not being able to take care of her family’s unexpected need. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation, Valley Churches United was able to help immediately and even got the propane company to deliver that same day to relieve the anxiety she was feeling. When we talked again at the end of the day, she was tearful again, but it was not from fear but from gratitude!"

- Lynn Robinson, Executive Director - Valley Churches United Missions

Stories of Big Hearts

“I was fortunate to be able to donate my CARES stimulus check and gladly selected the Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. The Foundation is a highly respected organization that is ready to extend their services at this time of great need. I am confident that my donation will be put to good use locally and I encourage others to give what they can to help those who really need it.”

- Donor, Santa Cruz

"I donated to the COVID-19 Response Fund with the Community Foundation because I have confidence in their experience, gained knowledge, and longstanding partnerships with our local nonprofits. I know that my gift will be quickly distributed to organizations that will make the most efficient use of the funding and help those most in need during this crisis. Thank you to the foundation for their responsible nurturing of philanthropic activity in our community."

– D.D., Soquel - Donor

"So many of us in Santa Cruz County are fortunate to be able to live through this COVID nightmare in relative peace and quiet, with some enjoyment of Santa Cruz spring. We have square footage in our homes, and food being delivered, and yet those basics seem an absolute luxury to too many whose lives have been left abruptly upended. With jobs gone, or on hold, affordable housing more squeezed than ever and hunger growing, we need to step forward, as we can. We've been impressed both by the quick response and effective organization of the Foundation in addressing the crisis. We're glad we can support those efforts, as we all yearn for a return to normal."

- Ken and Kathy Doctor - Donors

“COVID-19 affects so many people in so many ways that it's overwhelming. I trust the Community Foundation to get my donation to wherever it is needed most. As a teacher in Watsonville, I know that many of our families were struggling before the pandemic. The Community Foundation supports organizations that help the most vulnerable regardless of their immigration status.”

- Judy H. - Donor

"I am proud to live in a community that rallies to support its residents. I applaud the distributions the Community Foundation has made to nonprofits who support struggling workers, people without homes, families battling illnesses, and those providing essential services. Though I am sheltering in place, you have given me a way to help my neighbors."

-Janis O'Driscoll - Donor

"There has never been a time in our lives when we've seen so much need in our community and in our world. We are grateful to still have our income right now, so it felt like an easy decision to donate our entire stimulus check (and then some) to help our community. We have the lion's share to the Community Foundation because they're local, support our most vulnerable populations, and help with the essential needs of food, shelter, and health care. We are grateful and proud that the Foundation exists in our community. Thank you!" - Patricia and Don P.

“I have so much concern for our community during this pandemic. How will unhoused people survive? How will newly unemployed people pay for food and rent? Once businesses do open again, how will people be able to restart their lives? Fortunately, I am financially stable right now wanted to donate my CARES stimulus check to help. I chose the Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund because I knew they would do careful research and support organizations who will disperse the funds most immediately and to those in most in need.”Ann Schwartz, Donor

Learn more about COVID-19 Response Fund Grants

Philanthropy in Action