Lyme and Old Lyme set up coronavirus relief fund to help residents in need
The towns of Lyme and Old Lyme are teaming up to support residents, both through rallying together a robust volunteer base but also through a relief fund that’s already raised more than $30,000 to help pay for bills, fuel or groceries for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We put this fund together because we knew there were going to be people in need throughout both towns as people are laid off from their jobs and as they struggle to pay rent or buy groceries,” said Mary Seidner, director of Lyme Youth Services Bureau.
LYSB, which supports families and youth in Lyme and Old Lyme, is managing the Coronavirus Relief Fund in partnership with the social services departments of both towns. Anyone of any age directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is eligible to apply for financial help from the fund.
The idea for the fund began when Rick Stout and Tom Britt, both Old Lyme residents, of Benchmark Wealth Management announced the company would match all donations made to the Coronavirus Relief Fund on a one-to-one basis up to $10,000.
Already, after launching March 24, the fund has raised more than $30,000, “which is great news,” Seidner said. “It’s amazing how the community has come together during these times.”
But Seidner emphasized that LYSB hopes to keep adding to the fund as the need for help is “going to build as more weeks go by without people receiving paychecks.”
“Donations are still coming in,” she said. “Daily we are getting donations from residents and some businesses in Lyme and Old Lyme, but we hope it continues.”
Seidner said those who need help from the fund can call LYSB or fill out a form available on both the Lyme and Old Lyme town websites, townlyme.org and oldlyme-ct.gov, respectively. People can explain their needs on the forms, which are distributed to Seidner, Social Services Coordinator Jennifer Datum or Old Lyme First Selectman’s Assistant Michelle Noehren, who then organize the information accordingly.
“We will have a phone call with the person to assess their situation and whether they are really in need and what help they need from us,” Seidner said.
Seidner said anyone can fill out the form, not just those with financial needs. She said the towns also are setting up a volunteer corps to help fellow residents who may either be homebound due to the virus or over the age of 65 and who may need help walking their dog, going on a grocery run or picking up prescriptions.
“We had a senior the other day that just needed someone to help him bring out their trash can, because that was very overwhelming for them,” Seidner said. “So we were able to help them with that.”
In Old Lyme, 76 volunteers have signed up to help others, Noehren said, while in Lyme about 100 volunteers have stepped forward, Selectman John Kiker said. Both towns are still accepting volunteers.
“We have a corps of volunteers in Lyme ready to assist with food deliveries, prescriptions, etc. The volume of people volunteering is overwhelming,” Kiker said. “We are a small town, but people are coming forward. ... In these situations, it’s amazing to see that the worst of times actually brings out the best in people.”
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