The City of Burlington was turned into a lake July 12 as flood waters traveled from Echo Lake to the Fox River to the southeast and covered city streets. The Burlington Community Fund recently issued $500,000 in grants to property owners who suffered flood damage in the city and in outlying areas.

Charitable arm of Veterans Terrace assists nearly 200 area residents

Grant checks ranging from $200 to $10,000 arrived last week in mailboxes of 194 area residents who were affected by the July flood courtesy of the Burlington Community Fund, according to members of the organization.

“Grants varied from $200 for those with smaller financial losses up to $10,000 for families that had significant structural damage or lost their home,” fund President Joel Weis said.

The Community Fund, which is the charitable arm of the organization that operates Veterans Terrace, raised approximately $500,000 from it’s own treasury, other area foundations – including the Racine Community Foundation – in addition to contributions from churches, service groups, businesses and individuals, according to Bobbie Wagner, treasurer of Burlington Community Fund.

“There were many emotions while working through this process,” Wagner said.  “Reading and hearing about the losses and complications resulting from the flood was truly heartbreaking.

“Each application was unique in its own way,” she added.  “At the same time, it was so wonderful to see others step up to the need and without solicitation support the Flood Relief Fund.”

The members of the Community Fund Board scrambled to establish parameters for grant applications in the weeks immediately following the flood and hosted a flood grant application event at Veterans Terrace on Aug. 5.

The grants went to homeowners and renters who applied for grants prior to the Aug. 8 deadline. The organization received more than 200 applications, according to Weis.

“Unfortunately, as a non-profit, we were not able to offer any assistance to any of the businesses or the owners of income producing properties,” he added.  “It’s not that we didn’t want to help them – our non-profit charter does not allow for it.”

The Community Fund board partnered with an independent accounting firm to help process the information in the applications then spent days further reviewing the information before determining the grant amounts, Weis said.

The goal, he said, was to help people who suffered losses to necessary household items such as furnaces, water heaters, appliances, bedding and clothing.

“I am very proud of how our board members were able to respond in a quick manor, and greatly appreciative of our outside financial consultants that assisted with compiling the data, and most importantly the generosity of the donors that cooperated with the Burlington Community Fund and the Veterans Terrace,” Weis said.

The efforts of the Community Fund came at the same time the organization was dealing with extensive flooding and damage to the lower level of Veterans Terrace, 589 Milwaukee Ave.

“It was simply amazing to have some really great volunteers come to help us at Veterans Terrace with our own flood problems, saving the building from severe, unrecoverable damage,” Wagner said.  “Our heartfelt thanks goes out to all donors and volunteers.”

Weis said he hopes the process helps the community better understand the role the Burlington Community Fund, which has been in existence seven years, plays.

“My hope is that the assistance is put to good use, and that the community as a whole begins to understand that the Veterans Terrace is really the business engine of the Burlington Community Fund – and the Burlington Community Fund gives back to Burlington,” he said.