Collin Breaux and Shawn Raymundo, Dana Point Times

As coronavirus concerns sweep South Orange County and the world, various agencies and businesses have stepped up to offer assistance.

Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) announced in a press release they will “continue but adapt” their daily food, shelter and personal supportive services to South Orange County families and individuals in need.

“We are dedicated to responsibly serving our community,” FAM CEO Elizabeth Andrade said in a press release. The agency is “balancing the tension between our mission to serve our community and the reality of the threat to our organization.”

FAM has experienced an increase in requests for rental and utility assistance needs and started to hear concerns from clients, as employers have reduced hours or closed for the next two weeks.

FAM’s thousands of clients include seniors and the health-compromised, food-insecure and unsheltered populations vulnerable to coronavirus.

The nonprofit maintains its San Clemente-based resource center, emergency family shelter, transitional shelter, permanent supportive housing, resale shop, as well as three satellite support centers in San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and Laguna Niguel.

CUSD Food Service Worker Jenny Willett hands out free curbside school lunches as cars line up at Hidden Hills Elementary. Photo: Courtesy of CUSD/Steven Georges/Cornerstone Communications

FAM has instituted the following procedures to minimize personal contact, including adapting regular office hours at the San Clemente office, now 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Monday through Friday, as long as possible; asking clients to call their main line at 949.492.8477 to pre- order for drive-up food services; and temporarily suspending food supply distribution to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Several upcoming FAM events have been postponed or canceled, including Second Saturday food distribution and the annual Easter Brunch and Egg Hunt.

In the coming weeks as protocols and policies change, Andrade said the agency “will continue to communicate with clients, volunteers, staff and partners regarding our updates to programs and precautionary steps.”

Visit the agency’s website at family-assistance.org for more information.

And to help small businesses throughout California that have suffered “substantial economic injury” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Small Business Administration on Monday announced that it will be offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital.

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist California small businesses with federal disaster loans,” SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza said in a press release. “We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Carranza explained that the loans could be used to help pay fixed debts, payroll and accounts payable, among other bills the businesses are unable to pay right now. And eligibility, according to the SBA, is based on financial impact.

“Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Carranza said in the release.

Local residents in San Clemente are looking to aid the elderly, as several members of the San Clemente Life Facebook page have said they’re willing to gather any food and medicine the community’s senior citizens may need during this isolation period.

Valari Armstrong, a San Clemente resident, told Dana Point Times this week that those elderly citizens who are currently quarantined should feel free to reach out to her so she can coordinate with others in the Facebook group to pick up supplies.

“Both my parents passed away, and I would want someone to help them if they were still alive and I weren’t available,” she said, later adding: “I’m healthy, I’m working from home, so I can certainly take time to go grocery shopping, pick, up medicine and leave it on their front porch.”

Armstrong can be reached by email at valari.armstrong@yahoo.com.

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