The Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation donated the funding to organizations that are providing a frontline response, including food access, financial relief and support for residents and workers.
The community groups received either $5,000 or $10,000 grants to support their work. In addition to frontline support, the organizations work on issues including workforce development, job training, education and support for immigrants.
“We are overwhelmed by the need in our community,” said Pooja Joshi O’Hanlon, executive director of the foundation, “and will continue to monitor for other areas of need that emerge both within our current funding priority areas such as jobs, education, immigrant populations, and beyond.”
Organizations that received funding for their COVID-19 programs include Zone 126, Hour Children, Queens Public Library, The Floating Hospital, Urban Upbound, Make the Road, ACE Programs for the Homeless, Socrates Sculpture Park, Museum of the Moving Image and NYC Kids RISE, among others.
Founded in 1996, the foundation was created by Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi, who grew up in western Queens and remained active in the community throughout their lives. Thomas served as the worldwide head of production for Pepsi-Cola, and helped launch the product in Canada, Cuba, Germany, Mexico and the Philippines.
The foundation’s area of focus is a concentration of poverty that includes the 20,000 residents who live within the three public housing developments in western Queens.
“It was incredible how quickly we were able to make the grants,” said board chair Jose Rivero. “The need far surpasses our resources, and we will continue to explore what else we can do for the community.”