Though many communities in the country are beginning to open back up, we still face the economic ramifications of the pandemic as well as the threat of another wave, especially in rural areas that are notably marked with higher percentages of people working essential jobs, higher levels of chronic illness, and less access to hospital beds. The Fahe Network continues to monitor and respond to community needs in regard to COVID-19 and will do so for some time to come. Along with addressing financial needs and food insecurity, they are also addressing personal safety needs in the community and ensuring the coverage of essential information.
In Wayne WV, Fahe Member Coalfield Development is well known for their workforce development program that uses the 33-6-3 model which has crew members utilizing 33 hours a week doing on-the-job-training, 6 hours devoted to community college and business classes, and 3 hours a week committed to personal development coaching. Coalfields also operates several employment-based social enterprises designed to diversify the regional economy to be less dependent on coal. They have shifted the focus of several of their social enterprises to meet the new demands around COVID-19. Refresh Appalachia, Coalfield’s sustainable agriculture company is now offering fresh food mobile pickup to ensure the availability of healthy food. Saw’s Edge, their woodshop, is designing and prototyping emergency beds in case of overflow needs for local hospitals. SustainU, their sustainable t-shirt company, is sewing masks for healthcare workers and donating extra clothing to local hospitals.
With the new programs that went into effect because of the quarantine, there has been confusion, and unfortunately misinformation, around who is allowed to access funding and how it can be utilized. Some Fahe Members such as Clinch-Powell created detailed videos and informational packets to inform and educate people on important topics such as how the CARES Act stimulus funds can be utilized by renters, homeowners, and others. By taking the time to ensure this valuable information is reaching their communities, Clinch-Powell is helping to bring financial relief to their communities as well as helping to prevent and reduce the number of families who may suffer from loss of housing.
Fahe continues to work alongside our Members to ensure the health, safety, and future recovery of our communities. Along with developing an emergency fund at zero percent interest to support Members and a forbearance plan for borrowers to prevent delinquencies and foreclosures, we are also monitoring the need for better access to healthcare, broadband, and other issues we have always dealt with but which have become more pronounced in the light of COVID-19.
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