SMPDC processed 700 federal relief applications in 2020; Eastern Trail was one of them

SACO — With another round of Paycheck Protection Program grants and loans on tap, some York County nonprofits and businesses say it and various other federal COVID-19 relief programs have been a lifeline.

For local organizations like the Eastern Trail, the money received has been a big help. With fundraisers on the back burner in 2020, the nonprofit Eastern Trail experienced more than $100,000 in losses due to COVID-19, estimates Executive Director Jon Kachmar.

Kachmar said the Eastern Trail received $48,500 in federal funds.

“The funding we received was a ‘lifeline’ that will help us get back up and running,” he said. “We ended up in a good place with help from them at a time when outdoor recreation is more important than ever.”

In 2018, Kachmar said 250,000 people used the Eastern Trail. With data sources indicating the use of outdoor spaces and trails is three times more than usual, Kachmar estimated the 21-mile trail system had 750,000 users in 2020.

Bob Hamblen of the Eastern Trail Alliance that oversees trail operations, said without the grant the organization received, belt tightening would have been necessary.

“We are a volunteer-driven organization, and rather light on staff,” said Hamblen. Besides Kachmar, there is a part-time office manager, and the organization contracts about 10 hours a week for IT services. “Maintaining an office in the North Dam Mill and ensuring that obligations are met is about all we can or want to handle on an annual basis,” said Hamblen.

Absent the federal funding, Hamblen said he expects a cutback in hours would have been considered.

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You can read a related story on-line here (WGMA Channel 13 news)