A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $36,000 to date to help an estimated 100 small, independent Beacon Hill businesses struggling in the face of COVID-19 pay their electricity bills for the month of March.
“We haven’t distributed the checks yet, and we’re in the process of contacting businesses to see if they want to opt in or out,” said longtime neighborhood resident Diana Coldren, who spearheaded the effort with Ali Ringenburg, co-president of the Beacon Hill Business Association. “It’s maybe only going to be $300 per business, but even that amount is very meaningful to them.”
The goal now is to determine how many businesses will opt in or out for the program by Monday, May 25, and Coldren requests that businesses notify Ringenburg at [email protected] with their answers by that time.
“We’re also asking businesses to submit their most recent electric bill, as well as the recipient’s name,” Coldren said.
Afterwards, $500 will be put towards plantings on Charles Street while the remaining balance be equally divided amongst eligible businesses; only independent businesses paying rent in the neighborhood, having less than 35 employees and that were open before March 24 when Gov. Charlie Baker issued his stay-at-home order and who plan to reopen are eligible to receive funding.
The GoFundMe page for the campaign can still be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/ep67vh-supporting-beacon-hill-small-businesses, and will stay open for those who would still like to support the cause. Donors can also opt to send a check payable to the Beacon Hill Business Association to Cambridge Trust, Attn: Stacy, 65 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108.
“People can still contribute, and we’ll do another round of checks in June if we raise enough money,” Coldren said.
Coldren and Ringenburg also expect to learn in the coming weeks whether GoFundMe would match the money raised through their online campaign.
Meanwhile, Coldren said many owners of eligible businesses have already reached out to express their gratitude.
“They’re very appreciative and can’t believe the generosity,” she said. “They don’t have the bandwidth to set up GoFundMe pages on their own because they’re focused on maintaining and figuring out their businesses.”
Francisco Medrano, who owns Adela’s Hair Studio on Pinckney Street, is among those who will benefit from the fundraising campaign.
“It’s nice to know that people in then neighborhood really care about their small businesses,” Medrano said, “and there are a lot of [business owners] who could use not only the financial support but emotional support from knowing that people care.”