American Veterans First (AVF), based in Riverbank, was among a select few non-profit organizations to be approved for the COVID-19 Relief Grant issued by the City of Riverbank. AVF was approached by the city via email for the grant in November and was approved in late December for a $20,000 grant.
“We were excited and honored to receive the initial email asking if we would be interested in applying and then when we got it, we went straight to work with it,” said AVF president Duke Cooper.
Upon approval for the grant, AVF hosted a board meeting to see how they could help people in the community. The city-issued grant was created to assist Riverbank residents who were or are still being affected by the coronavirus.
“Since the pandemic we (AVF) have issued over 5,000 meals, over $1,500 in gift cards, medical supplies and other needs to help out our community. This grant is a great gesture and we want to continue to help out our community any way we can,” Cooper noted.
AVF is using this grant to assist folks with their utility bills, food, medication and other needs that COVID-19 has prevented them from paying or acquiring.
“You’d be surprised how many folks in our community cannot pay their PG&E bills or mortgage because their jobs were taken from them over COVID-19. It’s not fair, and for many it is not their fault,” added Cooper.
The grant does not pay for property tax or income tax.
To qualify for the relief program, you must have proof of your bills and record of your loss of income due to the virus.
“We are cautious and thorough about it. We kindly ask that people in need please bring in as much proof as possible, and that we fill out the correct forms on our end as well,” explained Cooper.
AVF has partnered with St, Frances of Rome church, which also qualified for the grant. Cooper said when they learned that the church had received a grant as well, AVF officials reached out and the organizations came to an agreement that if they put the money together it would help more people in the community and that is the ultimate goal.
In the short time since getting the grant AVF has helped several people in need.
“So far we have helped people with their PG&E bills, medical supplies and mortgage and we are just getting started,” Cooper said.
Since opening up their doors in Riverbank; AVF has been active in contributing to the community and surrounding areas. From toy donations, to food drives, AVF has been a driving force for good in and around Riverbank and never hesitant in lending a helping hand.
If you are in need of financial assistance due to the pandemic, you are asked to contact AVF directly at (209) 863-8480.