LaMedichi has distributed more than $1.2 million to over 1,200 families (more than 5,000 people) through the Manaus Emergency Fund in three counties (Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield) since the beginning of COVID-19.
LaMedichi is responding to meet the needs of thousands of immigrant families by distributing emergency cash assistance. The program for rapid deployment of emergency financial aid to those without access to traditional public funding was created by Barbara Freeman, Ph. D., with fundraising support by local consultant, Robin Thompson.
Undocumented workers play an important role in Colorado’s tourism and construction economy. Those who lost their jobs or had their hours reduced during this pandemic are unable to collect unemployment benefits.
LaMedichi (a program of MANAUS) stepped up to provide aid early in the pandemic. Before the Coronavirus, the LaMedichi Savings-Credit Club worked with clients to provide a vehicle for the most vulnerable populations to save money, receive financial literacy education and receive low interest loans. However, when the ski industry shut down in mid-March and stay-at-home orders affected nearly every business, Freeman saw a growing need for immediate funding.
“We were able to launch the Manaus Emergency Fund very quickly,” Freeman said.
Robin Thompson added, “Nonprofits like LaMedichi that can pivot to serve an urgent community need, while staying within their stated mission, are the most effective and efficient ways to provide targeted aid.”
Grants are given in $1,000 increments by LaMedichi. These grants come in two payments: $950 in immediate cash assistance and a $50 deposit into each recipient’s personal LaMedichi savings account. Educational support on financial literacy, goal setting, budgeting, and emergency savings is included.
At first, the most pressing need was helping families pay their rent. Now, medical expenses related to COVID-19 have emerged as an equal burden for many families and individuals.
“We are dealing with the most vulnerable of the vulnerable,” said Freeman.
(Published in the Vail Daily on Sunday, August 9, 2020)