Many people who have suffered economically over the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic are not, unfortunately, a priority when it comes to receiving assistance and relief. With that in mind, Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Madison’s south side has launched a “COVID-19 Relief Stimulus” fund to support those that have been affected by COVID-19 due to being furloughed or having their hours and pay reduced.
“I have been hearing from my [church] members quite a bit and people have been telling me, ‘There has been a reduction in my job hours’ or ‘I’m only working three or four days a week now because I’m furloughed.’ I started hearing that a lot in my congregation … people who weren’t necessarily qualifying for grants that are out there but still very much in need,” Rev. Marcus Allen, senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, tells Madison365. “We just wanted to do something that can help them.
“Often when funds become available, they go to people who are behind on their rent or can’t pay their bills,” he continues. “Those who have been furloughed or experienced a pay reduction … they don’t often qualify, even if they are just making it from month to month. So we really wanted to help those people.”
Mt. Zion Church is giving people relief with a $500 stipend or what they are calling a “stimulus package” for those who have been furloughed or have seen a job-hour reduction.
“We’re looking to give the stipend to 50 people – we have about $25,000,” Allen says. “People who might be interested can click on the document and fill out the form and provide proof from their employer that they have been furloughed or have experienced pay reduction. That’s all we ask for. And then the funds go directly to the person.”
To apply for the fund, click here.
The people applying for the stimulus fund do not have to be from Mt. Zion Church and can be from anywhere in Dane County.
“We’ve taken in a lot of funds through United Way, Boys and Girls Club, and we’ve also worked with the Psalm 46 Fund…. Money was generally going to help people pay bills, but then I kept hearing about incidents of people at the church who were furloughed but didn’t qualify for funding opportunities,” Allen says. “That’s when I said, ‘hey, let’s do something for those who fall in this category. They’re paying their bills; they just need a little help.’”
Allen realizes that a challenge to getting this money to people who need it could be people’s pride.
“Especially people who fall in this category. They always feel like somebody needs it more than them and they don’t want to take the money. So they won’t apply for this … but this fund is exactly for them,” Allen says. “We just want to give a little help to those who need it.”
Allen first put it out on Monday through a video announcement on Monday and they already have been able to help more more than 10 people.
“This is the least we can try to do to help somebody else. We know this is trying times for many and we just want to help where we can,” he says.