COVID-19 prompts a call to help those most affected

Mayor: 'Our community has a tremendous heart for giving'

Saleswoman helping customer.

A lot of people need help during the coronavirus pandemic, and there are a lot of ways to help them out.

On Tuesday, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken announced the establishment of the One Sioux Falls Fund to help local residents impacted by COVID-19 in the Sioux Falls area.

Set up in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, it was a call to focus on the public health of the community and target housing needs and food security of those unable to work at this time.

The fund aims to link those willing and able to help with people and circumstances where that willingness will do the most good.

As an example, on Wednesday, Henry Carlson Construction of Sioux Falls donated 300 N95 masks for Sanford doctors and nurses. The company had them and Sanford could definitely use them. During a time like this, it’s how things are supposed to work.

“That was huge,” said Mike Begeman, Sanford Health vice president of community relations. “We take care of each other in this community. It’s evident in the many people who are volunteering.”

Listening and acting

Henry Carlson Construction shop foreman Greg Mohr was watching television and listened to Vice President Pence talk about how construction companies with an abundance of N95 respirator masks might consider donating them to a local health care facility.

Mohr dutifully checked out his company’s supply and discovered three cases of masks in storage. He contacted owner Chip Carlson and got the OK, then told company chairman Dave Derry.

“It was a no-brainer,” Derry said. “We called our contacts at Sanford and had them delivered. We’re just trying to do our part.”

Another example is Dining 4 Kids. On Thursday, people were encouraged to order meals from selection of restaurants that would, in turn, donate a portion of their food and drink sales to Sanford Children’s Cure Kids Cancer.

They are acts of kindness that depend on being sensitive to community needs. It is a quality — like masks, child care and food — that will be needed in the weeks and months ahead.

“I have faith that South Dakota’s members of Congress will do what’s needed to help those in need in the wake of COVID-19,” TenHaken said. “Still, there will likely be gaps in the system and I don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks in Sioux Falls.”

Mayor: A sense of community

TenHaken’s initial plea for a sense of community was quickly heeded by local businesses. It began with the mayor asking the Sioux Falls City Council to appropriate $250,000 of general fund dollars to the One Sioux Falls Fund. The Council will consider that request at a special City Council meeting on March 31.

Donors have pushed the fund to over $1 million since the mayor’s announcement.

“It has been humbling to see business leaders come forward to contribute to this effort,” TenHaken said. “Our community has a tremendous heart for giving, and we need the community banded together now more ever.”

In this case, the mayor was not just referring to businesses and monetary donations. In the coming days, for instance, Sanford Health will be addressing plans for individuals from the community to be part of coordinated efforts to provide child care for health care providers.

Doing your part

“Our people with their boots on the ground caring for patients need to keep doing what they’re doing,” Begeman said. “The rest of us who aren’t working on the clinical side need to do our part, too. Most important is to continue to pass along correct and consistent messaging and make sure people understand that they need to continue to do the right things.”

Ultimately, those looking for ways to assist the health care community can start by doing what they can to avoid getting the virus. That is, doing their part to flatten the curve by abiding by hand hygiene and social distancing guidelines that will slow the spread.

In addition to the potential for aiding in child care for providers, supplying and assisting in the delivery of food within the area promises to be another community need.

“We don’t want to over-extend our hospitals,” Begeman said. “Sanford and Avera are working closely together on this. We are a community and we are stepping up in light of a very serious health concern.”

If you want to help:

  • One Sioux Falls Fund — The goal of the fund is to help residents in the Sioux Falls area avoid evictions and financial hardships if they are unable to work due to COVID-19 and if they are unable to qualify for federal or state assistance. Nonprofits, the county and the city will coordinate to distribute the funds to make sure assistance is distributed properly.
  • Corona Help Sioux Falls Fund — A coalition of churches working to bring supplies and food to those affected by COVID-19 has established a fund at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

If you need help:

  • Helpline Center — In Sioux Falls, 211 provides a 24/7 hotline connected to a trained team that is able to provide up to date information. If you need assistance finding food, or basic essential needs, call 211 to speak to someone who can help.

Learn more

Posted In Community, Coronavirus, Foundation

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