On March 15, Corrine Foreman’s business — Corrine’s Car Service — came to a screeching halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nobody had anywhere to go, and nobody had any money,” said the 59-year-old Buena Vista resident. She looked into delivering food or medicine, but her expensive insurance wouldn’t cover that — and even if it had, with restaurants and pharmacies delivering to residents, there was no demand.
Soon Foreman found herself short of cash to pay rent on her home.
“It was crazy,” she said. “Just a couple months before, I was trying to figure out the best way to donate to help people in need … and when a regular customer was in a financial pinch, I’d drive them for free. Now I was the needy one. It was embarassing.”
Then Foreman heard about the Chaffee County Community Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund. “They gave me the $500 I needed for my rent,” she said. “Since then, I’ve mostly just stayed home. … My house has never been cleaner.”
Foreman later applied for unemployment through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which made self-employed people like her eligible. Between those expected benefit payments and her coming $1200 stimulus check, she thinks she’ll make it through without needing to go back to the ERF.
Indeed, CCCF data show that after mid-April the numbers of people applying for emergency grants on a weekly basis declined. “We think that’s due to the fact that like Corrine, many people who’d lost their incomes as a result of the pandemic are now expecting unemployment benefits,” said CCCF Executive Director Joseph Teipel.
“If people find they still need extra cash to pay basic bills, we’d encourage them to apply – even if they’ve already received some assistance,” said Teipel. “A household can qualify for up to $2,000 this year.” As of May 4, the CCCF ERF had awarded $101,772 to 163 families and individuals who’d lost their income as the result of the pandemic.
Of course, like everyone in the county, Foreman is hoping fervently that the phased re-opening will allow her to renew the business she loves and relies on. “It’s a super fun job and provides a service to community residents and visitors,” she said. “Law enforcement likes my business because I take people home [from the bars] so they’re not drinking and driving.”
A multi-generation Buena Vista resident, Foreman’s great-grandparents settled in the Arkansas Valley in the late 1880s, according to a Chaffee County Times article about her father, Jim Foreman. Her family ties and long history here allow her to be a tour guide to her out-of-town visitors. “An absolute pleasure to talk with and she was so knowledgeable about the town,” says one of the many testimonials from visitors on her website.
“I love and support my community,” said Foreman. “And I love showing the place off to tourists. I’m thankful that my community helped me, and I look forward to being able to give back when my business starts up again.”
Hight is a writer and strategic communications consultant and Chaffee County Community Foundation volunteer writer.