First Presbyterian Church Raleigh changes rules for fund to help more families with utilities, rent
As hundreds of thousands in North Carolina have applied for utility and rent assistance , some are finding help in churches. Many churches have always served the community through missions and outreach tackling everything from food insecurity to childcare but the pandemic has forced some to make changes to meet demand. At First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, distribution rules for the more than 60-year-old Friendship Fund has seen a shift on who is seeking assistance since coronavirus led to economic hardships for millions. The fund began with the mission to keep people in their homes and keep their lights and water on. "It went from not just helping the working poor to helping the working middle class," said Kathy Johnson the Director of Community Outreach at First Presbyterian Church. "And, the population that I saw that it's been hit the hardest, are single parents especially single parents with kids in elementary school. We help with up to $400 in assistance. Before COVID, we helped once every 12 months, during COVID, I started helping once every six months because people were just struggling even with, you know, government help," Johnson added. First Presbyterian's Friendship Fund is funded 100 percent through tax-deductible gifts and in many cases is able to help those who qualify for assistance within days of applying.