COVID-19 changed everything for Seniors in Service, which engages volunteers ages 55 and older to provide services like tutoring for at-risk children, companionship to homebound elders, and mentoring for disabled adults in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties in Florida. The coronavirus crisis has sharply increased demand for services, while also hurting the organization’s ability to raise money and stay afloat.
The number of seniors stuck at home during the pandemic skyrocketed and at the same time there was a huge increase in the number of people who wanted to volunteer to help. After their major fundraiser in May had to be cancelled, the 17 staff members were in danger of losing their jobs, which would have prevented Seniors in Service from coordinating services and training volunteers, according to CEO Robin Ingles.
A Seniors in Service volunteer connects with area Tampa Bay seniors through the TelePal program.
Enter the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Hancock Whitney. According to Ingles, working with Hancock Whitney in Tampa Bay during the crisis was seamless. Commercial Banker Debbie Sheridan in Tampa worked quickly with the organization to ensure that all of the documents were accurately completed to receive the loan.
Seniors in Service received a $162,000 loan that allowed the nonprofit to both keep its current staff and grow its team to meet the demand. The nonprofit, which coordinates more than 700 volunteers, recently added four employees who will focus on the TelePals program, providing homebound seniors with a connection to the outside world via phone calls. TelePal volunteers check in on safety and wellness issues while also providing companionship during a chaotic time that is impacting low-income seniors more than any other group.
Hancock Whitney made PPP loans a top priority, using an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to prioritize and process PPP loans both for existing clients and new clients. Bank associates across various functions jumped into the process. In the Tampa Bay area, Hancock Whitney made approximately 800 loans for just under $200 million, with the average loan about $200,000. Additionally, the entire bank ranked high nationally for its PPP performance--18th in the country in a ranking of PPP lenders in the first quarter, according to the S&P Global Market Intelligence report.
Receiving a PPP loan will benefit countless members of the community associated with Seniors in Service. Being able to continue the social connection between volunteers and seniors will preserve mental and physical health during COVID-19 and beyond.