One Chelsea Fund begins to wrap up operations after critical help during surge

The One Chelsea Fund was one of the hallmark helping hands of the COVID-19 pandemic surge as the community got hit fast and hard with sickness and job loss – with nowhere to turn in many cases.

The saving grace for many to keep afloat was the One Chelsea Fund that was sponsored by the United Way and administered by GreenRoots, TND and the Chelsea Collaborative. Thousands of applicants were able to get $250 checks with no strings attached after the application process to help keep their families in stock with the essentials during one of the worst times in Chelsea’s modern history (which is saying a lot!).

“All of the donations went dollar to dollar to Chelsea residents at the beginning of COVID-19,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots. “None of the three organizations took any fees to administer it. The donations really came in and we were able to raise $1.3 million for Chelsea families. We had thousands of applications from the community.”

The organizations worked out the kinks on the fly, applied analytics to the process and made the application easier to fill out. It was an extensive amount of work behind the scenes, and GreenRoots actually brought on former ECO Youth member Adela Gonzalez to administer the program there with other volunteers.

“Long story short, GreenRoots distributed 1,700 checks and each of the other organizations distributed about 2,000 checks also,” she said. “Donations came from all over the place. When we finally saw the donor list, the donations had come in from all over the country. It was thousands upon thousands of people. It wasn’t like one big company donating a ton. It was $25, $5, or $50. Most of the funds came from small, individual donors.”

The application process closed on June 30, and those that were remaining on the list were funded. On Sept. 4, they opened the Fund again for Phase 2 to concentrate on housing.

Now, Bongiovanni said, the three organizations are preparing to close down the One Chelsea Fund and transition it to another emergency organization that will work on emergency housing needs as many expect a huge uptick in evictions in Chelsea.

The remaining proceeds in the Fund will be transferred to the organization – which will be officially announced shortly – to continue the work.

And so will come the close of an interesting chapter of human services history in the city.

“It worked great and a lot of people were helped,” said Bongiovanni.

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