Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund Distributed $400K in Grants

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Laguna Beach resident Bob Mister was the inspiration for the local COVID-19 relief fund launched April 24. Courtesy of Stephanie Mister

The three-month campaign for the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund, launched by a group of business owners and community volunteers focused on creating instant financial relief for Laguna Beach residents, distributed its final grants in late July, a total of over $400,000 that was given to locals in need.

Opened in late April 24 in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach and the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, the fund, which received 1,000 applications, made emergency assistance mini-grants in the form of VISA gift cards of up to $1,000 available to 862 individuals for rent, food, medical bills and other basic needs. It emphasized those in the restaurant, hospitality, retail, arts and personal services industries.

One of those recipients, Jennifer Proppe Ray, a long-time Laguna Beach resident and mother of two, applied for a relief grant to help her family with groceries and rent after her home-based wedding flower business grinded to a halt due to COVID-19. Her once thriving business, which she ran with her husband, had experienced postponements through at least August. She immediately applied after hearing about the relief fund. “It was super convenient, and I was approved in a couple of days. Anything helps,” Ray said. “It’s been a roller coaster and this type of support from the community keeps you going.”

According to Bob Mister, the fund co-chair and Laguna Beach resident, the fund provided aid to 120 hotel workers, 570 restaurant workers, 63 artists and 28 day laborers, with the remaining 66 grants going to small business owners, independent contractors, dog walkers and nail and hair salon employees.

“We would like to thank everyone who contributed and worked to make this project a success,” said Mister. “While we realize that this small amount of money could not sustain those affected by job loss for long, we got such a positive response from those receiving grants from our Laguna community helping Laguna workers, that it made the effort worthwhile. Special thanks to The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, which took in most of the applications and gave out the grants to the recipients and once again, thanks to all who gave of their time and money to help those in need.”

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