A Boulder charity, founded in response to the Spanish Flu, steps up again during Covid

Century-old Boulder charity EFAA has upped its support of local families during Covid-19

By Paul Hagey May 1 2020

Editor’s note: To maintain privacy, Scott is a pseudonym for the EFAA participant BLDRfly spoke to for this story.

Scott, a recent graduate of Naropa University, who lives with an immuno-compromised parent in Boulder, lost his warehouse job in early March due to Covid-19.

This added additional stress to he and his parent, and they turned to Boulder’s family resource center, Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), to help. They have received food and financial assistance from the nonprofit already, but the steady assistance during even tougher times has added peace of mind. EFAA contributes funds toward their rent and utilities by paying the landlord and utility directly (it doesn’t hand cash or write checks to program participants).

In addition, Scott values the respectful, human way EFAA supports his family. “It’s nice just being able to talk with someone,” he says. EFAA tailors its support with the help of case managers who work with the families who come to it for support.

When economic emergencies strike, food and shelter become paramount, and EFAA has focused on supporting Boulder families with these critical needs for over a century.

Founded in 1918 to support Boulderites thrust in need when the Spanish Flu ravaged the area, EFAA now helps Boulder families ravaged by Covid-19. When the Spanish Flu struck, public gatherings were likewise prohibited and communities had to fend for themselves — the federal government did not play a role there. EFAA centers its help within Boulder, with some spread into Boulder County before sister family resource centers in east county take over.

[List of Boulder charities]

It supports families through its North Boulder Food Bank (at 1575 Yarmouth Avenue), that typically runs as a grocery store where families can find staples at no cost. With Covid restrictions, the center prepares 48-pound boxes of essentials — milk, frozen meat, produce, pasta, nonperishable items, diapers and toiletries — designed to support families for a week. The organization also supports families with financial assistance, primarily in help through rent.

EFAA’s food bank hours are (check the website here for updates):

  • Monday: 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Friday 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“We’re designed for this moment,” says EFAA executive director Julie Van Domelen.

Julie Van Domelen

In a typical month, EFAA’s case managers have 150 appointments and support families with $100,000 in assistance. In the last four weeks, 364 appointments have resulted in $314,000 in direct financial support to families, the bulk going to rent, Julie says.

Three-quarters of the beneficiaries include families with children and fall within the LatinX community.

EFAA also provides short-term housing to families in need and runs programs for children. Read more about its programs.

The food bank has seen a 25 percent increase during Covid-19, with approximately 75 families each day coming by to get food. EFAA gets half of its food from a wholesale provider, Community Food Share, and the other half comes from local grocery stores and food drives at schools and churches. In March, EFAA supported families with 80,000 pounds of food, a third more than a typical month.

[Read: two Boulder couples donate $2,400 stimulus checks to charity]

Individual donations have helped EFAA ramp up its support. Over half (51 percent) of its total 2019 revenue and support of $6.4 million comes from individual donations, like North Boulder residents Jon Rush and Alice Renour donated $500 to EFAA when they decided to give their $2,400 federal stimulus checks to charity.

Julie says EFAA has been able to ramp up its support thanks to an increase of donations from Boulder donors, including a family who made a $200,000 challenge donation. In the three months through July, Julie estimates that EFAA will provide approximately $1 million in financial assistance to families in need, about the same amount it supplied in all of 2019.

Those interested in donating to EFAA can find out how here.

Header image: EFAA Boulder headquarters. Photo: EFAA.org

Paul Hagey

Paul Hagey is BLDRfly’s founder and editor. When not wrangling video, audio and words in the name of story, he’s riding his mountain bike, trail running and hanging with his awesome wife Jen and their young daughter. paul@bldrfly.com