Harrisburg’s mayor held another in a series of Facebook Live events on Friday and, on tap, three topics of great community concern–local businesses, the school district and supporting medical personnel.
Much of Mayor Eric Papenfuse’s “Community Conversation” revolved around a new grant program, the result of a partnership between the city and Impact Harrisburg, a nonprofit for local economic development.
The Neighborhood Business Stabilization Fund will help mitigate damage caused to small businesses by the COVID-19 crisis, explained Nona Watson, director of economic development in the city.
“This project is intended to fill the gap in the offerings of financial assistance to small businesses,” added Sheila Dow Ford, executive director of Impact Harrisburg.
The $1 million fund will provide grants of up to $10,000 for accepted businesses on a first-come, first-served basis.
“This is a Harrisburg-centric grant we are talking about,” Dow Ford said. “It is a way to quickly provide resources to all businesses.”
In addition, Chris Celmer, acting superintendent of the Harrisburg school district, discussed resources the district is providing in light of Gov. Tom Wolf’s closure of all Pa. schools for the remainder of the academic year.
Celmer said that laptops are being distributed to students in grades nine through 12, and the district is working on applying for grants in order to extend the distribution to other grades, as well.
In addition to a partnership with WITF to broadcast educational material for students on television, the district will use the city’s channel WHBG20 to put out individual lessons. Celmer explained that Harrisburg teachers have been recording lessons to broadcast.
“We are really trying to tackle this situation in a number of different ways to ensure that 100 percent of our students will have some access to academic enrichment during this very unprecedented time,” he said.
Lastly, Christian Caicedo, UPMC Dauphin Region president, discussed a new initiative to support medical personnel in Harrisburg.
Caicedo encouraged the community to use the hashtag #HELPTHEHELPERS to show support for health care workers, as well as grocery clerks, garbage collectors and everyone performing essential tasks.
Window signs and social media frames with the hashtag can be downloaded at UPMCPinnacle.com/HELPTHEHELPERS.
150 free Wi-Fi hotspots can be found around the city; a map can be found here.
Families with school-aged children can apply for 60 days of free Wi-Fi here.
The Community Policing Division’s Family Food Box program will operate on Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m. only.
The Harrisburg School District’s breakfast and lunch program will operate on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. only. Meals for five days can be picked up.
The Harrisburg YMCA on Front Street is opening its showers to homeless individuals on April 13, 15 and 17 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Each week’s Community Conversation can be found on YouTube. They are held each Friday at noon through Facebook Live. For more information, visit the City of Harrisburg, Impact Harrisburg and the Harrisburg School District’s websites.