Local Impact:
Winona Community Foundation’s
COVID-19 Relief Fund

Financial hardships have hit our neighbors right here in Winona since COVID-19 arrived last March. For many, this is the first time they have asked for help. To address a growing need for emergency funds and assistance, the Winona Community Foundation Board of Directors established the COVID-19 Relief Fund back in March. Since then, over $190,000 has been raised for the fund and $63,000 has been spent by program partners to make necessary changes to service delivery and to provide financial resources for individuals negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center (HVMHC) is one of several program partners using the Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund to help individuals. Program partners can provide up to $1,000 per individual for financial hardships endured because of COVID-19. Below are some of the people HVMHC has been able to help with these funds.

Job Loss, Reduced Hours, Job Opportunities Adrift

A local man lost his job in March due to COVID-19 and his journey toward recovery was shaken because of it. HVMHC staff were able identify this and offer to cover essential bills with the COVID-19 Relief Fund to lower his financial stress. In early August, he started a new job and his health his improving.

A family of six was on the verge of losing electricity after being two months behind due to hours being cut at their job because of COVID-19. The family was in tears when HVMHC used COVID-19 Relief Funds to cover the bill.

A mother of an infant was actively seeking employment but when COVID-19 hit, the job opportunities vanished. The COVID-19 Relief Fund provided her with enough money for food, diapers and formula until she was able to find part-time employment.

Partners can also purchase tools and supplies they need to continue services virtually or in a COVID-19 safe manner. For example, Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center purchased plexiglass shields, masks and phone minutes so their clients and staff can safely continue their therapy services and programs. They also purchased stress kits for children to manage health symptoms while they weren’t allowed to participate in face-to-face therapy. And the needs are sometimes as simple as water; during a medication clinic, HVMHC purchased water for clients that walked in the heat to attend due limited transportation options with changes in public transportation because of COVID-19.

Stacy Shones of HVMHC shares, “It has been an amazing partnership with the Winona Community Foundation!  The support we are able to give these individuals and families right now is helping them get through this pandemic. We are so thankful!”

The longer it takes for our community to emerge from this pandemic, the more individuals and families will experience financial hardship. It’s easy to see that this fund is having an immediate and direct impact right here in Winona. The Winona Community Foundation is not taking any fees from contributions to this fund. All dollars will go directly to serving individuals and families. After we emerge from the pandemic if any funds remain, they will be distributed to nonprofit organizations working to reestablish operations post pandemic.


If you feel compelled to help, now is the time. Contributions at any level are welcome and can be made online, by contacting the Winona Community Foundation office at 507.454.6511 or wcf@winonacf.org, or by mail, 111 Riverfront, Ste 2E, Winona, MN, 55987.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a financial hardship, encourage them to connect with any of the COVID-19 Relief Fund partner agencies for assistance.

  • Family & Children’s Center of Winona
  • Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center
  • Home & Community Options
  • Project FINE
  • Volunteer Services
  • Advocacy Center of Winona
  • Bluff Country Family Services
  • Catholic Charities of SE MN (prescription assistance only)
  • Hometown Resources in St. Charles
  • St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Wabasha
  • SEMCAC in Winona, Houston & Fillmore Counties