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This Kensington church is giving away COVID-19 relief funds

Rev. Frank Mulvaney at the entrance of Visitation B.V.M Church on East Lehigh Avenue on March 19, 2022. (Photo by Solmaira Valerio)

Updated on April 20, 2022

Kensington residents economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can receive financial assistance through Visitation B.V.M. Church for a bit longer.  

The church, located at 2625 B St., has been raising and distributing money to directly pay residents’ bills and living expenses through its COVID-19 Relief Fund since April 2020. The fund was created in response to the initial wave of unemployment due to the pandemic.

“It was just panic,” said Rev. Frank Mulvaney, pastor at the church. “Everything was shutting down. People couldn’t go to work, go to school … so we started our fund.”

The Visitation B.V.M. Church raised $40,000 for the fund and distributed the money until it ran out in October 2021. An additional $10,000 was donated to Visitation that October, launching round two of the fund. 

The financial resource was originally for Visitation B.V.M. School students and the church’s parishioners. According to Mulvaney, the fund eventually expanded access to local residents with some form of affiliation with the church. However, residents without any connection to the school or church can access the fund at the discretion of the church. 

The Catholic church has used the funds to buy residents gift cards for ShopRite, IGA, Walmart, and Target to cover living expenses. Mulvaney said the church has been paying residents’ utility bills and rent, gifting a limited amount per person. The funds are paid straight to service providers.

“For example, we pay PECO directly,” Mulvaney said. “We pay the company, the landlord, the real estate company directly. We’re trying to avoid any chance of fraud or defrauding.”

As of now, a few thousand dollars remain in the fund, which will end after all the money is spent. The aid is distributed on a first come, first served basis. 

Residents interested in benefiting from the fund can contact the parish office at 215-634-1133 or visit the office at 2646 Kensington Ave. The office is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 9 a.m. and noon on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors should come into the office with a bill, invoice, or rental information.

If anyone is interested in supporting similar social services for Kensington residents, donations can be directed to the Community Center at Visitation.


Editors: Christopher Malo, Zari Tarazona / Designer: Siani Colón

Kensington Voice is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on economic mobility. Read more at brokeinphilly.org or follow on Twitter at @BrokeInPhilly.

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