Dear Mr. Mayor, Town Recorder, and members of the Town Council,
As you know, Shepherdstown Shares has been responding to the Covid-19 related needs of Shepherdstown area residents and laid off employees for more than two months. Here is a look at the programs and projects we are working on now.
- Food Support - We spend just under $1000 every week to provide support to Shepherdstowners through two programs. One, we distribute electronic gift cards to Food Lion for laid off workers and families in town. Two, through our partnerships with Jay and Honor Thomas of the Lellybelle Cafe and Shepherd University's Tabler Farm, we stock a free pantry with food, toilet paper when we can find it, and feminine hygiene products. As restaurants will soon be opening, we are making arrangements to use another space for that pantry. Lellybelle is also offering free meals to those who are hungry.
- Work for Workers - We have an informal labor exchange introducing community members who have no-contact casual work done to laid off workers. As government support has reached workers that program has shrunk from many dozens of workers to just over a dozen, several of whom are doing this work nearly full-time as they wait to see if their old jobs will be available again.
- Angel Shoppers - People at heightened risk from Covid-19 should not go to grocery stores so we do it for them, free of charge.
- Information - We provide a forum for both local information and official reports, forms, and data. Our website will soon go live, making it even easier to find out about grants and loans for individuals and businesses, links to official sites, news reports, and links to sign up for our own programs.
- Clothing drive - We are conducting a clothing drive on behalf of struggling families in our area. We will be offering children's clothes, and also "dress for success" clothing to prepare people to look for new jobs.
- Book drive - There are many children in our community who have no books of their own. We are collecting children's books for all ages and interests. Some will go to the day report center to benefit the children of people in addiction recovery. Some will go to the Empowerment women's shelter. The bulk will be handed out by the Shepherdstown Lions Club when they distribute the monthly food packets made by Kidz Power Packz.
- Contact tracing - Working with Dr. Reidy, Shares has collected more than a dozen people to be trained for the Jefferson County Health Department's contact tracing task force. As and when more need arises, we will respond to Dr. Reidy's requests.
- Narcan Training - Shares arranged for the Health Dept. to conduct an online training session and provide free Narcan prescriptions to 17 people now prepared to save a life. We have interest from the public in holding another and will work with the Health Dept. to do that.
- Skills Inventory - Our businesses may be able to get more government grants and loans, and may be able to raise capital from traditional lenders. But they lack critical guidance. In order to support our business community, we are gathering two types of volunteers to offer confidential services to those who want them. One, CFAs and MBAs to analyze the business' financial position. Two, retired business leaders willing to act as mentors. We are aided in this recruiting work by the Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, and Masons, as well as by the University and SAIL.
- Covid Cleaning Crew - We have a group of volunteers who will be cleaning public spaces, especially on weekends. This crew will be available to clean tables and chairs after every use if we have an outdoor dining area on the lawn at McMurran Hall.
Most of our funding comes from generous individuals in the community, although we have received news of a substantial donation from the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, as well as smaller amounts from Our Shared Plate, and both the Shepherdstown Lions and Rotary. Chris Stroech has been kind enough to help us with forming a corporation and beginning our 501(c)(3) application. Until then, we are using the Lions Club as our fiscal agent so donations to us are tax deductible.
We are participating in the JC CVB's re-opening committee, working with WV EP Mask Effort (to which we gave all the volunteers and supplies of our own mask project), with the Shepherdstown Ministerial Association, and with the Business Organization of Shepherdstown. We are exchanging information and best practices with several other towns in the Mid-Atlantic and elsewhere.
If it wishes, the Corporation can help Shares by mentioning our work in public, putting everyone who asks about Covid-19 services in touch with us, and making sure we are aware of any grant opportunities you learn about. I'll be on the call tomorrow in case anyone has a question.
We look forward to continuing to work with the town.