While the recently passed stimulus bill includes programs to help small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, there are also funds designated for houses of worship and non-profits.
Councilman Fernando Cabrera is urging all eligible houses of worship and non-profit organizations to apply immediately for this money.
Cabrera explained that while synagogues, churches, mosques and non-profits aren’t open, they have bills, payroll, group health insurance benefits, sick leave, medical and insurance premiums and mortgage or rent payments all to pay. This program will help cover these costs.
Churches are typically sustained on donations given on a weekly basis, but with no services, where is the money coming from, he questioned.
“This is an urgent call to houses of worship and non-profits with payroll of less than 500 employees,” Cabrera said. “The time is now to get applications in and obtain this critical funding which will allow churches and non-profits to keep their employees paid and continue doing the important work they do in this challenging and stressful time.”
The councilman explained there is $350 billion available to almost six million eligible small businesses, but under the Paycheck Protection Program there are close to two million eligible non-profits and hundreds of thousands of churches.
Information, instructions and applications are available on the U.S. Small Business Administration website, sba.gov or call 800-659-2955 to reach the SBA hotline.
“Houses of worship and non-profit organizations are filling service gaps daily for people in need of help during the coronavirus pandemic, as our public agencies are overflowing and beyond capacity,” the councilman said. “These organizations need this money and our communities need these organizations to stay in business. We must do all we can to continue operating during this time.”
The councilman, who has been a senior pastor of New Life Outreach International, 2757 Morris Ave., for many years, discussed how his church will observe Easter during the crisis. He said his church will remain closed and so will all of the houses of worship in the city.
While Cabrera has never shuttered his church or conducted holiday services from home, he understands he must adapt.
“As a Christian and a pastor our relationship with God can extend beyond the four walls of a church and we’re still connected,” he explained.
Since closing a couple weeks ago, there have been virtual services using Zoom and he has been able to reach more of his congregation.
The councilman noted the toughest part of doing virtual services was his elderly congregants. Being they aren’t tech savvy, he had some people show them how to use Gmail and Faecbook.
While conducting Good Friday, Palm Sunday and Easter services from home maybe a challenge, right now there are no other options. People’s lives are more important, he stressed.
“Churches need to ask themselves and leaders what is the most loving thing to do and the wisest thing to do,” he said.