Florida First Coast Relief Fund awards $390,000 to help Hurricane Matthew victims


By United Way of NE. Fla.


Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund has awarded more than $390,716 as of mid-December to help community organizations assist victims of Hurricane Matthew in Northeast Florida. The awards have been used to provide shelter and food for more than 6,000 families, to provide debris removal for elderly residents, to help victims meet basic rent and utility expenses, and to provide case management and connect victims with other sources of support. Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund was established in early October after Hurricane Matthew grazed the coast of Northeast Florida leaving extensive property damage in its wake.


United Way of Northeast Florida, United Way of St. Johns County, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, and the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville joined together to create the fund, which was seeded with an initial gift of $250,000 from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. Additional gifts from individuals, corporations and funders have brought total contributions to $545,208, compiled a month and a half ago.  


“Every dollar that has been donated to this fund is having a real and significant difference here in the First Coast Community,” said Melissa Nelson, president and CEO of United Way of St. Johns County. “Efforts to rebuild, not just homes but lives, continue daily, even though the storm seems long past. We cannot thank the donors enough for their generosity.”


Distributions from the Relief Fund are overseen by a committee comprised of representatives of the City of Jacksonville, United Way of Northeast Florida, United Way of St. Johns County, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville. The fund makes grants only to organizations helping individuals impacted by Hurricane Matthew in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties, providing resources to meet needs not met by government programs.


Organizations receiving funding to date are American Red Cross, Northeast Florida Chapter,  Barnabas, Nassau County, Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, Catholic Charities, St. Augustine office,  City Rescue Mission, ElderSource in partnership with Councils on Aging in Nassau, St. Johns, Duval and Clay counties, Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County, Feeding Northeast Florida, First Congregation Sons of Israel, Salvation Army, Northeast Florida Area Command, St. Francis House, St. Johns Housing Partnership.


                 Contributions are still being accepted. 100-percent of all gifts will go to the relief effort. Any unspent funds will be used to seed a permanent disaster relief fund for Northeast Florida. To contribute, visit bit.ly/flfirstcoastrelief.