On the National Day of Prayer, Fresno Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer expressed thanks Thursday to his Creator after announcing that $1 million was raised for 20 local charities through the Give Help Now campaign.
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Dyer, who led the effort, said he hopes the funds from the month-long drive will help a community on edge because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We need more help, more hope, and more healing,” Dyer said.
Dyer, who takes office on Jan. 5, 2021, also serves as vice-chair of Mayor Lee Brand’s Fresno Recovery Advisor Committee.
“People either rise up and support one another or people rise up and blame one another,” Dyer said. “It’s time for us as a community to not blame anyone but to support and encourage each other in this time of crisis. And that’s what we’re doing today.”
How Marjaree Mason Center Will Use Donations
Nicole Linder, executive director of the Majaree Mason Center, said the $228,139 it received will help continue services for victims of domestic abuse.
Other top recipients included the Central California Food Bank ($217,224), Fresno Rescue Mission ($212,970), Poverello House ($203,439), and the Valley Dream Center ($66,000).
“Our crisis intervention services, a 24/7 hotline, and emergency shelter are only 25% funded by government grants,” Linder said. “During COVID-19, those have escalated for us and people are needing to stay longer. Philanthropy was critical in order for us to be able to maintain, sustain, and increase the demand for those services.”
Demand has reached “summer-type numbers,” Linder said, meaning a sharp increase although she did not have specific numbers.
Calls to the center have been “erratic” as well, with some weeks higher than others. Local law enforcement said they’ve experienced the same trends.
“To be honest, during those peak periods of quiet, we actually get a little bit more nervous because we know that people are experiencing violence in the home. They’re just not able to report it,” Linder said.
The money will also help house those who are escaping abuse. Linder said they are 47 families over capacity but are able to find alternative arrangements, thanks in part to financial donations.
The county has also used some of its state COVID-19 money to provide hotel rooms.
Watch: Marjaree Mason’s Mission
20 Organizations Benefit
The effort started with a $500,000 matching commitment from five anonymous community donors.
In total, the fund raised $1,074,294, with about 1,000 donors contributing the remainder.
Donors were allowed to designate a specific charity for their contributions.
“I’m very confident that we’re going to come back as an economy in Fresno. I’m very confident that people are going to continue to be generous within our community,” Dyer said. “And before long, I truly believe that we will be thriving far beyond what we ever did before this pandemic struck our world.”