FORT WAYNE — AWS Foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana for emergency operating support due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The award was one of 11 such grants given to area organizations providing disability services.

“This grant is an amazing blessing for us,” said Donna Elbrecht, Easterseals Arc CEO and president. “We are committed to serving people with disabilities throughout this crisis, and it is heartening to know that AWS Foundation understands that commitment and the financial challenges brought on by COVID-19.”

By the end of the month, RISE Inc., which serves disabled workers in Steuben and DeKalb counties, will have merged with Easterseals Arc. The Angola facility will remain but will be renamed Easterseals RISE.

Easterseals Arc suspended day programs in mid-March while continuing to provide in-home supports around the clock to hundreds of individuals.

“In a time when many businesses closed due to COVID-19, the staff of Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana continued to work. Not only did they provide services, they had to do it taking on increased costs of PPE and with limitations on what they could do. AWS Foundation was moved by their continued services and wanted to help with some of their added costs,” said AWS Foundation CEO Patti Hays.

Easterseals Arc’s expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic include:

• medical equipment such as thermometers and pulse oximeters to monitor staff and clients for symptoms

• personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, surgical masks, goggles, face shields, gloves and isolation gowns

• disinfecting and cleaning supplies and services

• hand sanitizers and soap

• fabric to make washable face masks

• technology such as webcams and headsets to increase capacity for delivering remote services

“The expenses we’ve had so far are significant, but we know this isn’t over, and the total cost will continue to climb,” Elbrecht said. “We are incredibly grateful to AWS Foundation for their generosity and support for not only Easterseals Arc, but the entire community. We’re all stronger when we support each other.”

Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana offers broad range of services to disabled individuals including employment services, day programs, residential services, recreation, respite and support in the community and at home.

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