New Rolling Meadows emergency fund to help residents in crisis
Rolling Meadows has formally launched a new city financial assistance program -- funded by public donations -- for residents in emergencies and crisis situations.
Called the Hope Fund, it's an outgrowth of a GoFundMe page launched by Mayor Joe Gallo nearly a year ago when a condominium complex fire displaced 17 families.
Donations to the website brought in about $12,000 that was distributed to the fire victims.
City officials have set a goal of raising $10,000 for the new fund, which is available at gofundme.com/f/rmpd-hope-fund.
Though most of the donations are anticipated online, organizers are kicking off a big fundraising push for in-person donations at community events, including the police department's annual holiday food drive this weekend.
It's scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday outside Jewel-Osco at 3000 Kirchoff Road.
"I'm hoping that this fund does grow and we can help more people as we move forward because there definitely is a need for this," said Police Chief John Nowacki, whose police social services division is overseeing the program.
Rolling Meadows residents with a verifiable economic or personal crisis -- such as abuse survivors or fire and flood victims -- are eligible to receive up to $1,500 within an 18-month period for housing, utilities, health care or transportation, according to the program guidelines.
For example, that can mean a month's rent or mortgage payment, up to $1,500, or electric, gas, sewer, trash and water bills over the course of three months, up to the $1,500 maximum.
Eligible medical costs include prescription drugs, bills, supplies or services, up to $1,500 per household within a 12-month period, under the program guidelines.
An application with documentation is required. The police department's social workers will determine eligibility, and the city's finance department will disburse the money.
Natalia Nieves, the department's social services outreach specialist, helped craft the eligibility parameters. She said she's hoped for such a program during the eight years she's been in the job, where she can often be in a tough position trying to find resources to help people in crisis.
"I did want very specific guidelines so that the program is not the first resource that people go to, but it's really the last, and more by invitation by virtue of working with myself or my partner in truly desperate crisis situations where there's nothing else," Nieves told the city council in September, when the program was formally adopted.