Staff member Isoain Rodriguez, Jr. of archdiocesan Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) distributes food at the agency’s Nativity B.V.M. Senior Center, April 6. CHCS, along with archdiocesan Catholic Social Services and St. John’s Hospice, was among 44 regional nonprofits to receive thefirst round of grants from the PHL COVID-19 Fund, which assists frontline efforts to serve vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Scornaienchi)

Several archdiocesan outreach ministries have received grants from a major fund supporting frontline responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS), Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) and St. John’s Hospice are among 44 area nonprofits named April 8 in the first round of allocations from the PHL COVID-19 Fund.

The agencies received respective awards of $25,000, $40,000 and $50,000.

The PHL COVID-19 Fund represents a collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Foundation and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

More than $12 million has been pledged to the initiative so far, with grants to be made weekly to community-based organizations assisting with food and basic needs, protection of vulnerable groups, and medical care and information.

The April 8 grants were welcomed by archdiocesan agency directors, who have seen exponential increases in demand for social services due to the pandemic.

The monies will significantly bolster “core social safety net programs” according to James Amato, archdiocesan secretary for Catholic Human Services.

“We will use these funds to provide support for the basic needs of seniors throughout the Philadelphia region,” said CHCS executive director Heather Huot, whose office provides affordable housing, senior centers and in-home elder care throughout the five-county region.

Huot said that those needs include assistance with food, rental and mortgage payments, and utility bills.

From March 16 to April 1 alone, CHCS delivered close to 1,720 meals through its activity centers, residences and in-home visits.

“Our goal will be to mitigate the financial impact that the coronavirus is having on this vulnerable population,” Huot said.

In addition to older adults, people experiencing homelessness and poverty “are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Martin Farrell, director of development and community relations at St. John’s Hospice.

Located in downtown Philadelphia, the longtime outreach that is operated by Catholic Social Services offers residential services for more than 250 men transitioning from homelessness to independent living.

The facility also provides case management, on-site nursing, daily showers and a mail room for more than 1,300 men.

During the coronavirus crisis, demand for food assistance has tripled at the site, triggered by the closure of a nearby shelter and area business shutdowns aimed at containing the disease’s spread.

“All of our guests experience food insecurity, and many of them are seniors and people with serious underlying health conditions,” said Farrell. “These funds will allow us to continue to serve every person who comes to our door.”