WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Foundation remains committed to its goal of providing financial support to nonprofit organizations, many of which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The foundation, which offers grants to nonprofits based in Westfield and surrounding areas, has been contacted by several organizations in need of economic assistance.
“We’ve had, in the last three months I would say, organizations who are being affected negatively by the pandemic,” said Gerard “Jay” Boyle, the foundation’s new executive director. “Some of them are having some real issues. So, we’ve been reaching out to them, and they’ve been reaching back out to us to get some funding.”
The foundation distributed $697,000 in 2020, Boyle said. The foundation’s board, comprised of 15 trustees, meets quarterly to review applications and allocate funds. The first board meeting of 2021 is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Boyle said most of those reaching out for help are organizations that provide direct services to people in the community. For example, the foundation received a petition from St. Joseph Social Service Center, a food bank based in Elizabeth.
“They serve many, many meals to needy people every day of the week, and they also provide other services,” including vocational services, Boyle said.
The foundation was also contacted by Union County College, which is seeking support for students facing financial hardship.
“There’s a lot of students who really can’t afford to be there because of the tuition,” Boyle said. “We have provided them with some funding in the past. They just requested some funding from us again.”
Boyle also shared the story of a karate instructor who teaches students with special needs. After hearing about the foundation, the instructor called Boyle, who encouraged him submit an application.
“He had a facility in Union that had to close because of the pandemic,” Boyle said. “He just couldn’t afford to keep it open. He’d like to reopen that, so I think his application will have something to do with that.”
Boyle, who previously served on the foundation’s board for six years, began as executive director on January 1. He succeeded Betsy Chance, who retired in December after 26 years in the post. Boyle said his predecessor has been helpful in showing him the ropes and remains involved in the foundation’s work.
Chance has provided him with a lot of guidance and information about what needs to get done, Boyle said.
“She has technically retired, but in reality, she’s been coming and helping me out for most of the time since I started,” he said.
Boyle encourages anyone interested in learning more about the foundation to reach out by phone or email. Contact information is listed on the foundation’s website.
“Either if they need some funds for their program, or just as importantly, if they have extra money that they would like to leave to us in their wills or donate through us, that would be terrific,” Boyle said. “If anybody wants to come in and talk, come learn about us or have me come and meet them, that would be great.”
The mission of the Westfield Foundation, formed in 1975, is to “provide funding support in the arts, health, aging, historic preservation, social services and civic projects,” according to the nonprofit's website.
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