While the harsh winter of 2011 has been challenging for everyone, it is proving exceptionally tough for some. With requests to the UMass Medical School Emergency Assistance Fund (EAF) for financial assistance peaking in the winter months—last year 40 percent of requests were submitted during January, February and March—the fund is seeking new and renewal donations from employees who wish to help colleagues in need.
The EAF was created two years ago to help benefited UMMS employees who are experiencing temporary, sudden and non-recurring financial hard times resulting from emergencies. Grants of up to $1,000 in a 12-month period are available to employees who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses, and have exhausted other available options. These are not loans and don’t require repayment, but are treated as regular income, and are subject to ordinary income tax withholding.
Faced with a range of financial crises, including funeral costs, car repairs and utility bills they could otherwise not afford, 53 employees who applied for EAF grants in 2010 all received assistance thanks to the generosity of the UMMS community. As Chancellor Michael Collins and Provost and Dean Terry Flotte wrote in an appeal sent to all Medical School employees to consider a donation to the fund, the EAF plays a vital role in our community, especially now when the need is greatest.
Similar to the Sick Leave Bank, the Emergency Assistance Fund is made possible by the generous support of UMMS employees. Employees may voluntarily contribute up to four hours of earned vacation time per year, which is converted to a net cash value and contributed to the fund. Employees may also make direct cash donations to the fund.
To donate, simply complete the Emergency Assistance Fund Donation form. To learn more about the fund, click here, or contact the Employee Assistance Program, which serves as a liaison between employees and the Emergency Assistance Committee and manages the application process to ensure confidentiality, at ext. 6-1327.