MIKE CONNOR

Mike Connor, executive director of the River Fund, Inc., said the agency is seeking area residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and may be eligible for help.

 

LAUGHLIN — River Fund, Inc. is a local nonprofit agency providing direct emergency and crisis services for individuals and families in Bullhead City, Fort Mohave, Golden Shores, Golden Valley, Laughlin, Mohave Valley, Needles and Topock.

As an alternative, donors have the option to designate their contributions directly to a local non-profit organization of their choice. The River Fund also provides grant funding opportunities to other nonprofits in the region, thereby expanding the nature and scope of available services to those in need. Designated contributions and River Fund Grants are not necessarily limited to those service areas specific to individual and family crisis services. 

The River Fund, Inc. received its nonprofit 501(c)(3) status on July 23, 2010. Through October 2019, River Fund had impacted more than 75,000 lives with direct emergency crisis and hardship assistance totaling more than $2.3 million in nine years.

The primary underlying need for assistance can be attributed to calls for energy assistance. Other basic needs such as rent money, food, temporary shelter, medical and pharmaceutical needs, vehicle repairs and similar issues result in a large number of requests as well. Major issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, cancer, memory loss and veterans assistance are now growing concerns and are top priorities at River Fund. 

“Contributions to River Fund, Inc. enable us to provide many services and assistance to our local residents in their time of need,” according to Executive Director Mike Connor. A board of directors consisting of 15 volunteers from the business communities on both sides of the Colorado River, four staff members and one volunteer bookkeeper provide the leadership and operational services and “River Givers” are the heroes who make it all possible.

“River Givers” include everyone who chooses to participate as a donor, either through payroll deduction at their place of employment or those who choose to make a one-time or annual contribution. 

Whatever problems folks in the Tri-state might run into, chances are that the River Fund can help — and usually does.

The indefatigable leader for many years of that fund and organization, Connor still is hard at it seeking out those most in need and helping them out by way of several different funds and funding sources that flow through the River Fund Inc.

Connor said the River Fund currently is seeking out individuals who, due to the COVID-19 crisis, have fallen behind on their rent and/or utilities.

One of the moves that Gov. Steve Sisolak made was to decree that landlords could not evict renters who fell behind on their rents due to a COVID-related layoff, firing or otherwise interruption in their incomes because of the pandemic.

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, which is supposed to be the backstop catch-all for those who find themselves, through no fault of their own, out of work. That is the state’s unemployment office. As more and more laid-off casino workers — and employees in other industries — were let go due to COVID, they naturally turned to DETR for the assistance. The only problem was that DETR was woefully inadequate to handle even the most basic level of claimants and had been since the Great Recession of 2008. DETR has become an ineffective and overwhelmed department.

Sisolak also put in place a restriction on utility companies that they could not turn off anyone’s utilities because of payment lapses associated with job loss or work reduction and income loss due to COVID-19.

For those who could not get money coming in from the failed DETR, rent and utility bills simply began piling up. While Sisolak’s restrictions on landlords and utility companies helped, everyone knew that sooner or later, the debts would come due. The back rent and overdue utility bills kept getting larger. 

Currently that is the focus of the River Fund, according to Connor, who is in charge of federal funds being distributed through Mohave County for folks from the entire region who are facing those two types of debt — back rent and back utilities bills. Connor explained that in league with the BHHS Legacy Foundation, the federal government and River Fund, Inc., officials are seeking people who are in that situation to help them out as much as possible to lessen the blow and size of their debt. While River Fund helps out with a myriad of problems, this one is fast becoming front and center as both Sisolak and Arizona Gov. Ducey prepare to rescind those restrictions on landlords and utility companies. 

Connor explained that for people in such a situation, the fear is very real of facing bills that have piled up for months, and he and the River Fund want to help. Connor said people need to contact one of the two River Fund offices — either Bullhead City for Arizona residents or Laughlin for Nevada residents. The River Fund will then set up an appointment to evaluate what help may be available.

If someone is also suffering from a debilitating disease such as cancer, Connor pointed out that the River Fund raises money for that, too. If your car that gets you to work is broken down and threatens the ability to earn a living, Connor said the River Fund can in some instances help.

Connor urges people with financial issues related to COVID-19 to contact the River Fund. To reach the Bullhead City River fund offices, call 928-704-0039, and set up an appointment time and day with them. For folks in or from Laughlin, call 702-298-0611.

River Fund, Inc., is a Nevada 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in June 2010 and accepts contributions and donations which may be deductible pursuant to the provisions of Internal Revenue Code.

In addition, River Fund, Inc., also is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity that is a Qualifying Charitable Organization for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit program. Donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by applicable Federal and Arizona law. For more information consult a tax adviser.

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