Monday, October 3, 2022

Williamsburg Community Foundation releases first round of emergency grants to aid residents affected by the coronavirus

Williamsburg House of Mercy using a drive-thru service to give away food donations. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Williamsburg House of Mercy)
Williamsburg House of Mercy using a drive-thru service to give away food donations. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Williamsburg House of Mercy)

Six local nonprofits will receive emergency funding from the Williamsburg Community Foundation to provide direct relief to those impacted by the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19.

The $24,360 will be distributed to:

  • 3e Restoration, Avalon Center
  • Avalon Center
  • Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula
  • Grove Christian Outreach Center
  • Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels
  • Williamsburg House of Mercy

Each will receive a grant to assist residents who have lost income due to the pandemic and who are in need of help with basic needs such as food, shelter or transportation, according to a news release from the foundation.

  • Williamsburg House of Mercy reported serving 1,789 individuals in just 9 days; some days they have 20 times as many families as they normally would. “We intend to use these grant funds to purchase more food, diapers, feminine hygiene items, toiletries, and food distribution supplies (paper and plastic bags, etc.), to keep our drive-thru food pantry and Community Kitchen running for as long as necessary in this emergency mode,” said House of Mercy spokeswoman Nicole Lancour. “We are also committed to journeying with these families after quarantine is lifted and they face food insecurity, financial crisis, and struggle to regain stability.”
  • Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels has responded to the call to provide meals to 100 children per week who live in motels, since these families may lack transportation to pick up school lunches from the school system. Grant funds will be used to continue providing nutritious meals to these children, including meals to cover the weekend.
  • Virginia Peninsula Foodbank will use its emergency grant to provide 375 boxes of food at a Williamsburg area drive-through food distribution, as well as over 200 backpacks of food for low-income families with children.
  • 3e Restoration will be able to provide safe shelter and services to homeless individuals who are unable to move to permanent housing due to the virus.
  • Grove Christian Outreach has also seen an increase in clients requesting food; at the end of last month, they helped 46 families who had never come in for food before. Grove will use their grant to cover the cost of the increased demand for food.
  • Avalon Center has seen a marked increase in calls to their domestic violence hotline as people already living in volatile or abusive relationships struggle with loss of financial stability along with shelter-in-place restrictions. Avalon will also continue to serve the families who live at their shelter, including many children who are out of school.

Community Emergency Response Fund for COVID-19

Last month, Williamsburg City Council members Benny Zhang and Doug Pons, kickstarted the Community Emergency Response Fund – it now has more than $100,000 thanks to more than 75 local donors.

Williamsburg Community Foundation is working closely with local nonprofit and government leaders to ensure that these funds are efficiently deployed as grants to those groups who can provide direct services and financial assistance to those most affected, including food, shelter and transportation, according to the foundation.

The foundation plans to distribute the next round of grants in mid-May, and applicants will be invited to apply using a streamlined process to ensure the funds will be used to help local residents as soon as possible.

For those interested in applying for other types of grants, not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next grant deadline will be June 17. Details can be found here, or call the office with questions at 757-259-1660 or email

To make a contribution to the Community Emergency Response Fund, give online or send a gift to Williamsburg Community Foundation, 1323 Jamestown Road, Suite 103, Williamsburg, VA 23185.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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