IMPERIAL VALLEY – The Imperial Valley Wellness Foundation (IVWF) plus partnered organizations are encouraging local non-profits and businesses of all sizes to take advantage of their services, including stocking up on Personal Protection Equipment recently donated by Governor Newsom’s California Office of Emergency Services office.

Through a partnership with the Imperial Valley Regional Alliance, the IVWF has agreed to coordinate the distribution of State donated PPE which includes 75,000 personal bottles of sanitizer for non-profits along with 900 single gallons as well as 250,000 PPE masks and 500,000 face shields, according to a press release.

This serves as IVWF’s mission of advancing health and wellness for those most in need, including priority recipients such as front-line non-profits which are distributing food and basic supplies throughout local communities, according to the release.

“I think organizations that have PPE are doing a good job dispersing it but we're going to see an increase of cases because we're starting the harvest season (and) we're going to see more and more people coming to work this time of year,” said Tim Kelley, IVWF Board Trustee and President/CEO of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC).

Kelley said the goal is to get the masks out as fast as possible, with about 35,000 of the 250,000 already delivered or picked up by Sunday, December 27.

“The (agricultural) community is increasing so we've got to be prepared for the increase of infections and people that need PPE, which is kind of the opposite for the rest of the country,” Kelley said.

He said another vulnerable population is the non-profits themselves, stating “we’ve learned from our nonprofit partners that they are struggling to retain their volunteers due to fear of contracting COVID-19,” the release said.

Kelley said the focus in early distribution has been in farming– including field workers and their families –, the next step is to help local non-profits. They have direct contact helping clientele fill out the one-page questionnaire for the free PPE and to use their other services, such as connecting them to future grants and other funding opportunities.

“We've got a lot of resources free of charge where we can assist them,” Kelley said. “We're out there on a regular basis but we're trying to create another way that they can communicate with us. (The questionnaire) helps us to get in contact with people so that we can provide additional assistance.”

“We've got 250,000 masks, so it's until supplies last. I contacted the Governor's office last week and they said the next time there's a donation they're going to contact me,” Kelley said.

“If people have a need (for PPE) they just fill out the application and we'll figure out a way to get the masks to them, whether they pick it up or we deliver it,” he said.

Organizations are encouraged to submit their request for PPE as soon as possible while supplies are available by sending an email to Kelley at tim@ivedc.com requesting the one-page questionnaire.

Businesses can also inquire about PPE and other services through the IVEDC at 760-353-8332 or the Imperial Valley Small Business Development Center at 760-312-9800.

The Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation is located at 2415 Imperial Business Park Drive, Suite A, in Imperial. PPE can also be delivered directly to non-profits or businesses, according to the release.

“Our goal is to get these masks out as fast as possible,” Kelley said.

The IVWF has also been able to raise and distribute over $850,000 to Imperial Valley non-profits who are on the frontlines with COVID-19 the past year, he said.

Reporter

Roman has worked for multiple local news and non-profit orgs including IV Press and VW Mag, IVROP, St. JP2 Radio and is also with The Southern Cross. An El Centro native, he graduated from Marywood U in Scranton, Pennsylvania. rflores@thedesertreview.com

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