Nashua Community Development Block Grant
The Community Development Block Grant program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.
FY 2021-Opportunity Networks received a $33,000 grant from Nashua’s Community Development Block Grant. The funding was used to renovate the bathroom on the B side of the office and putting a new tankless on demand water heater on the C/D side of the Perimeter office. This included completely
gutting the bathroom and installing a lift, new changing table, all new fixtures and adding storage. We also installed a call/help button in the bathroom. This work was completed in April of 2021
FY-2022 This grant was changed from its original ask to better suit our current needs. We will now receive $28,600 in funding to renovate the bathroom on the A side of the office and replace the water heater on the A/B side. This will also include the installation of a stackable washer / dryer in that bathroom, all
new fixtures, adding storage and a call/help button. Work will be completed sometime in the spring of 2022.
United Way of Greater Nashua supports Opportunity Networks with grant funds and supplies
United Way of Greater Nashua awarded Opportunity Networks $1000 in funding from their COVID-19 Community Response Fund. These funds will go a long way to keeping our staff and individuals safe and healthy during this pandemic. In addition, they have donated masks, hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and disinfecting wipes that are very much appreciated by all #NashuaUnitedStrong
Nonprofit Emergency Relief Funds - NERF
In early August of 2020, Governor Chris Sununu approved $39,792,601 in grants to 496 New Hampshire nonprofit organizations through the Nonprofit Emergency Relief Fund (NERF).
The NERF was established through the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) on May 15 with an allocation of $60 million. The funds are part of the $1.25 billion New Hampshire Coronavirus Relief Fund established through the federal CARES Act. The state contracted with the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority to administer the grant program in collaboration with GOFERR.
These grants enabled nonprofit organizations with a wide variety of missions to continue to serve tens of thousands of New Hampshire residents who have been impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. Grants will help address lost revenues allowing nonprofits to retain key staff, and/or cover the direct expenses of delivering services to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, so critical organizations are able to serve New Hampshire through and after the crisis.
NERF funding allowed us to update and upgrade IT systems to be more compatible with our new server and address connectivity issues. We also used NERF funding to compliment COVID relief funding that we received from the City of Nashua to make working from offsite available to more staff and programing available to all those who were receiving services in their home with the purchase of laptops and iPads.
With the NERF funding we were also able to set up socially distant workstations for both clients and staff in our offices. The Technology purchases and IT upgrades have allowed all who need services to receive them regardless of their ability to attend in person ensuring that no one’s care, or wellbeing is compromised due to lack of access to services. It has allowed our staff to be more mobile and flexible to meet the needs of those we serve during these largely uncertain and ever changing levels of community transmission.
When the Stay-at-Home order was issued in March 2020, three things happened. 1. Home providers were burdened with an extra 30 hours per week where they must provide direct care without additional compensation. 2. Day program revenue dropped to near zero because individuals weren’t attending. And 3. Perhaps most importantly, the individualized skill-building initiatives of the day program were interrupted, and lack of participation caused people to regress in social, employment, and life skills. As the Stay-at-Home order was in place for some time, and it became apparent that even after the stay-at-home order was lifted much of this vulnerable population would not be able to return to in person programing due to community transmission concerns the state issued a Waiver allowing Community Participation Services to be done in the home. It also allowed for services to be done remotely to accommodate virtual programming. With this waiver in place, we then worked with home care providers to create a schedule of skill-building activities that would be at least partially comparable to what they were working on during normal day program hours. We built the virtual programs and worked with providers to develop schedules of activities and to collect the required documentation. This allowed us to provide compensation to providers as supplemental staff for their additional hours of work during the day. The residential vendor companies pay the providers an hourly wage and send us an invoice for that amount which we have used NERF funding to pay for.
One of the most significant undertakings that our organization took on during this pandemic was holding vaccination clinics to include a recent booster clinic for all clients, staff and in some cases care givers/providers. We have also purchased a supply of testing kits to both clients and staff if anyone is exhibiting signs or has concerns about exposure to COVID -19. We have also mandated mask wearing and temperature taking upon entering all offices. On top of these measures we invested heavily in cleaning and sanitation. We contracted with a cleaning company to deep clean offices and furniture as well as the wheelchair accessible vans we use to transport clients from home, to our offices and their jobs if they are wheelchair bound. We also paid to have all staff vehicles cleaned as staff uses their personal vehicles to transport clients who do not necessitate the use of the wheelchair accessible vans. We felt investing in as hygienic transportation modes as possible would assist in keeping exposure down as social distancing was not always possible.
There continues to be several key topics before legislation in Concord which focus on support for individuals with developmental disabilities and may be of interest to you. The rollout of Managed Care continues to be a hot topic as it relates to the potential impacts it may have. There is also current a bill (HB 387) to address Direct Support Professional wages.
Remember, everyone’s voice is important so please speak to your local representatives for more information about ways you can participate in the process.
You can also find additional legislatives updates at www.gatewayscs.org