Puentes de Esperanza — Bridges of Hope has received a grant to assist immigrant families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of Hoyleton Youth & Family Services in Fairview Heights, Ill., Puentes is one of 13 organizations throughout Illinois benefitting from the grant from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).
“We are excited to be a recipient of the ‘Everybody in Emergency Funding,’” says Kristen Shinn, Puentes’ director. “Our hope is to assist low-income, limited English-proficient immigrants who are not eligible for the federal stimulus package, unemployment insurance, and/or public benefits.”
ICIRR is providing a total $250,000 in grant monies, thanks to support from the Illinois COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. Shinn says that, thanks to the grant, Puentes will be able to assist 20 families.
In addition to the ICIRR grant, Puentes received an additional grant through a United Way COVID-19 fund that Shinn hopes will serve an additional 30 families with housing and utility assistance needs.
“This is on a case-by-case basis, but our team’s priority is to focus on housing and utility assistance at this time,” Shinn says. “We are hoping to leverage our community partnerships and donations to also assist with the gaps in food and basic needs.”
Thanks to donations from community partners, Puentes is filling some of those gaps through food and essential item distributions. In mid-April, Puentes staff and volunteers distributed 64 bags of food and essential items through a curbside pickup, and provided another 40 bags during the first week of May.
“These items were donated, provided through some of our current funding, and through partnerships with community agencies,” Shinn adds. “I am grateful for the many community partnerships that help Puentes assist our immigrant neighbors.”