By Mike Rhodes, Editor-in-chief—
Muncie IN – Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour recently implemented two new programs that provided COVID related assistance to Muncie residents. Funds for the programs were provided through the federal CARES-ACT to assist with COVID-related hardships.
The two programs were: “The Mayor’s Masks for Muncie Project” and “The Tenant Assistance Program.”
Dustin Clark is the city’s director of special projects and is overseeing the mask project which provides FREE masks to businesses, individuals, organizations, and neighborhoods who have a need for them. “We started out providing masks for the city and then moved on to anyone who had interactions with the fire department, police department and animal shelter,” said Clark. “We moved on to anyone who had constant day-to-day interaction with the public. Then we moved on to non-profits and finally for-profit businesses. So far we have provided approximately 23,000 free masks to the public.”
One local organization that took advantage of the mayor’s free mask program was Home Instead, a home healthcare organization that requested and received 1,250 masks.
“Because our caregivers are on the frontline and have been since March of last year, it’s refreshing to know that local government has recognized small business and home care agencies and the good work the caregivers are doing by providing masks for them.”—Steve Leach, Franchise Office Manager, Home Instead
Angela Beck, banking center manager for Old National Bank also took advantage of the free mask giveaway. Upon receiving delivery of her masks, Beck said, “We are excited to be a small part of the solution to this pandemic by providing masks to our customers. Not only will they get one for their visit for the day, but now we’ll be able to give them more to take with them. This will allow customers to have clean masks for future use for themselves and to share with family.”
“The Mayor’s Masks for Muncie Project” adds to the city’s on-going efforts to inform citizens on steps they can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the City of Muncie. The mayor has consistently reminded citizens to wash their hands, practice social distancing, and wear masks during his city updates on a Facebook Live.
As of January 27, 2021, according to the Indiana State Health Department, COVID-19 Dashboard Map, Delaware County remains at the orange level (2-2.5 of 3), —a position the county has consistently held for the last several months. Through communication and information sharing, the city believes the response from the community slowed the spread of COVID-19. The city identified that a mask program could help in efforts to reduce the level of transmission.
“I want to make sure that businesses, individuals, organizations, neighborhoods, and non- profits have plenty of masks and are not spending their own resources when we have them available for this purpose,” said Ridenour. I see this as an opportunity for the city to get masks directly in the hands of others to help slow the spread.”
If you manage, own, or lead a business, non-profit, or other organization in Muncie that needs masks for your staff or patrons, please contact Dustin Clark, director of special projects via email. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another program that was a great benefit to a portion of the Muncie community was the “Tenant Assistance Program.” Zane Bishop, HOME administrator for the City of Muncie and Gretchen Cheesman, director of community development, established a program in partnership with Bridges Community Services to utilize funds administered for a rent and utility assistance program, funded by the City of Muncie’s HOME Investment Partnership Grant.
“We appreciate the help Bridge’s has given us in being able to offer this assistance to renters,” said Cheesman. “We recognize that many families experienced hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re thankful that we had the resources through our HUD/HOME grant to assist them this year.”
The grant, administered by the city, provides for $121,000 worth of financial assistance to renters facing COVID-related hardship to pay up utilities, and past-due rent.
“The rent and utility assistance program administered by Bridges through significant funding from the city, was to assist residents and keep them in their current residences, where they could be warm and safe,” said Mayor Ridenour. “I appreciate the efforts of the community development team and the staff at Bridges for all of their efforts to provide this vital assistance to those in need.”