WELLFLEET — Dan Silverman’s years of responding to local emergencies with Wellfleet’s Fire and Rescue Dept. gave him a unique perspective on the town’s population, which barely tops 3,000.
“You’re conscious of a portion of the town that other people aren’t really aware of,” Silverman said. And of a huge discrepancy between people on the lower end, financially, and those at the upper end, he added.
“Wellfleet has the public perception that it’s an affluent community,” Silverman said. “And a good percentage of the home owners are. But that just makes it that much harder for those who aren’t affluent to live here and pay their bills.”
His concern for those who are quietly struggling prompted him to accept Paula Erickson’s invitation to serve on the board of the Fleet Fund, a new nonprofit organization Erickson helped found late last spring.
The Fleet Fund provides short-term emergency financial assistance for expenses like an unexpected car repair, the rent, or a prescription or medical bill.
Requests come from a variety of organizations who regularly see where the need is: social service agencies, churches, and schools, among others.
“It could be from a nurse at the school,” said Erickson, who is president of the organization’s board.
While there are “wonderful help organizations” for the Outer Cape, Erickson said, “Sometimes things fall outside the workings of what the organization can do, like a car repair,” she said. “The Fleet Fund fills that gap.”
The fund was modeled on the Dexter Keezer Community Fund, which has helped Truro residents deal with financial emergencies for more than two decades. Erickson said that, through her role in Outer Cape Health Service’s Community Resource Navigator Program, she has seen that fund make a difference to people. She hopes the Fleet Fund can do the same in Wellfleet.
Until the fund receives its own nonprofit designation under the federal tax code, the 246 Community Kitchen is serving as its fiscal agent. The group is accepting donations online at thefleetfund.org or by checks made to “The 246 Community Kitchen,” with “The Fleet Fund” in the memo line, and mailed to the Fleet Fund, P.O. Box 995, Wellfleet 02667.
The group started fund-raising in August and was bolstered early on by some sizable donations.
“We are grateful to a number of community members who helped put us on the map,” Erickson said.
The fledgling fund has already begun to fulfill its mission. “We have satisfied our first request,” Erickson said this week. The money went to fill an oil tank.