Since its creation last March, the Green River Area COVID-19 Response Fund has distributed more than $850,000 in grants, with the bulk of it in Daviess County.

The fund was established to help people pay rent and utilities, provide assistance to food pantries and shelters, and to help vulnerable populations.

Owensboro City Commissioners were brought up to date on the fund’s work during the commission’s Tuesday night meeting by David Ross, president and CEO of the United Way of the Ohio Valley.

Ross said city and county governments’ investments into the fund quickly helped build it, and brought on financial support from individuals and agencies.

Ross told commissioners and Mayor Tom Watson, “with your leadership, we were able to put together this fund, and with the strength of the city and county on board, our fund grew faster than any other in the state of Kentucky.”

Just over $1.1 million was raised, with city government and Daviess Fiscal Court providing large infusions of cash in March and December. Of that total, $852,921 has been distributed, with about $806,000 of that used in Daviess County.

According to the United Way’s presentation, the largest portion of the funds spent have gone to agencies providing rent and utility assistance.

“We have helped thousands of people, thousands of families, stay in their homes,” said Doug Eberhart, the United Way’s executive vice president.

Just over $261,000 was allocated to agencies to combat food insecurity.

“We realized our food banks and food pantries were going to be overtaxed,” Eberhart said.

The United Way worked with food pantries and homeless shelters to meet basic food and shelter needs Eberhart said.

Agencies also assisted each other.

“We saw (organizations) sharing supplies,” Eberhart said. “If groups had an over-abundance of food, they were willing to share.”

According to the report, $136,000 went to help vulnerable populations and $80,790 went to shelters.

Eberhart said an example of where the fund assisted helping vulnerable populations was when demand on meal delivery services increased dramatically, and the fund was used to hire additional drivers.

“There’s not a nonprofit in the region that didn’t have some kind of benefit” from the fund, Eberhart said.

The fund paid out grants to 77 agencies and programs offering pandemic relief, and still has $247,490 remaining.

“This isn’t over, but we are going to be creative and do our best to help this community in any way we can,” Ross said.

Near the close of the meeting, Watson urged people to continue taking precautions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The community’s rate of new infections has been declining in recent weeks, and vaccines are becoming more widely available, Watson said.

“We are headed in the right direction, but I don’t want anyone to get too cocky yet,” said Watson, adding “you have to wear a mask.”

Watson said masks do help prevent the spread of disease.

“You can tell that by the rate of influenza we’ve had in this community. It’s almost nil,” he said.

In addition to taking precautions, Watson urged people to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

“If we get to that 75-85% herd immunity, we have an opportunity to get back to somewhat normalcy,” Watson said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303,, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303,, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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